BUSINESS August 21st, 2006

By Johnny Keogh

Health company uses alternate methods to treat memory loss

New therapy focuses on client’s personal history to restore memories

A local homecare company is exploring innovative ways to help people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss.

Since the beginning of March, Premier Homecare Services has been offering a new program called Memory Connections, a method focusing on cognitive retention therapy (CRT) to treat memory loss.

It focuses on one-on-one support in a person’s own home and tailors specifically to an individual’s needs.

Thought the treatment has had success in Calgary, something has left company CEO David Watson frustrated — he hasn’t had a single client.

“It’s one of these things because the concept is so new.” Watson said. “It’s almost like a credibility issue.”

Seniors in nursing homes typically receive group treatment, which could be problematic, he added.

“A lot of the people in the groups are not at the same level,” he said. Some may choose not to participate if they are embarrassed.

A 2003 study that appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry surveyed 115 seniors and concluded CRT improved a person’s quality of life.

The findings suggested CRT was “beneficial for many people with dementia and should be regarded more positively by staff, carers and service providers.” The study also concluded that “cognitive functions” were improved. These are things like thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition.

“We work specifically on the individual’s life story,” Watson explained.

If need be, they’ll find out things like the client’s hobbies, careers and travel stories by interviewing family members.

A program is then designed specifically for the individual and the material is used to restore the memories.

Watson cited a case in Calgary in which a person was taken to a war museum to regain memories of working as a mechanic.

“The other people in Calgary who have started the program haven’t had anyone cancel,” Watson said.
Memory Connections is flexible and can work with seniors taking medication.

“Quite often it’s for the people who are independent,” he said. There does come a point when a person’s memory loss is too severe to be helped, so the program applies to seniors who are functional.