Approach to Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is a condition which few people expected or planned for and which no one wants. It’s a condition that sufferers and their families nevertheless must live with, usually for years. Few people are prepared or know how to make the best of this situation, and many feel overwhelmed by the task.

Counseling focuses on three approaches. First, it helps families understand the diagnosis and disease process so they know what to expect and can relate to the impaired person with empathy rather than frustration and bewilderment. Second, counseling addresses specific issues. Dr. Rochmes helps to understand each person's wants, prioritize needs, develop immediate, mid-term and long-term care plans, work through decisions, resolve family conflicts, and address the many challenges that arise in the course of caring for a loved one with progressive cognitive impairment. Third, counseling helps clients gain mastery over the negative experiences associated with the disease—frustration, loss, stress and overwhelm that burden the caregiver, loss, confusion, fear, and stigma that burden the impaired person.

“The diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. ‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘My life is over.’ I was totally depressed. But I woke up the next day feeling pretty much as I always had, and felt pretty much the same the day after that. It came to me that I wasn’t dying yet, I realized I had to figure out how to go on living with this thing.”

—Member of an early stage Alzheimer’s support group describing his diagnosis