Do You Understand Dementia And Can You Empathize With Dementia Patients And Their Families?


This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, 



What is Dementia? It is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms characterized by behavioral changes and the loss of cognitive and social functioning.

Common Symptoms:

  •  Memory loss
  •  Difficulty Planning and Solving Problems
  •  Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
  •  Difficulty Determining Time or Place
  •  Vision Loss
  •  Difficulty Finding Right Words
  •  Misplacing Items Often
  •  Difficulty Making Decisions



Dementia (Alzheimer causes the brain to decline in complicated ways. The changes in brain function happens when abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques (clusters of protein fragments) and tau tangles (twisted strands of another type of protein) causing neurons (a specialized cell that transmits nerve impulses) to stop functioning and die.

The death of neurons eventually leads to problems with bodily functions, such as swallowing and mobility. This puts the person with the disease at risk for poor nutrition, dehydration, blood clots, falls and infection, according to WebMD. From there, the disease contributes to conditions such as pneumonia and heart failure.





I would like to increase awareness for dementia among high school students so they are better prepared and are more empathetic to help or assist their loved ones with Dementia. My motivation for creating this catalyst project comes from my grandmother who has Dementia. I wanted to learn, understand, and be more empathetic.  I also wanted to help my family provide the best possible care and to maximize my grandmother’s quality of life.





My Experience with my grandmother’s Dementia



What you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s, Ted Talk by Lisa Genova

Next Steps:

  • Educate and Inform people about Dementia
  • Donate money for Dementia research and a cure
  • Volunteer time helping Dementia patients and their families.
  • Give love and support to your friends and family members with Dementia.



  1. Ballard C., Corbett A., Orrell M., Williams G., Moniz-Cook E., Romero R., Woods B., Garrod L., Testad I., Woodward-Carlton B., Wenborn J., Knapp M., Fossey J., “Impact of person-centered care training and person-centred activities on quality of life, agitation, and antipsychotic use in people with dementia living in nursing homes: A cluster-randomised controlled trial”, PLoS Medicine, 06 Feb 2018, 15(2):e1002500
  2. Ballard CG., Margallo-Lana M., Fossey J., Reichelt K, Myint P., Potkins D., O’Brien J., “ A 1-year follow-up study of behavioral and psychological symptoms in dementia among people in care environments.”, The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 01 Aug 2001, 62(8):631-636
  3. Alzheimer’s association website,
  4. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013
  5. Lisa Genova, “What you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s”,Youtube (TED talk), May 19, 2017,



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  1. April 27, 2018 by Juli.Fernandez

    I really enjoyed your topic, especially because I could tell it was so important to you. There definitely needs to be more awareness around the topic of awareness and how to empathize with people with dementia. My brother’s grandmother had Alzheimers, and it was really difficult for my family when she began to forget who we are. I really empathize with your experiences because of this.

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