Care Team Connect: Approach


  • The Approach

Caregiver Training: The Approach

The Care Team Connect program is designed to promote strength-based dementia care. Teams are encouraged to focus on personally meaningful topics and plan activities that come naturally.  

For people that are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar dementia mental abilities - such as memory, language, and reasoning - fade. Despite the loss of cognitive abilities, people with dementia often retain the ability to engage with the world through emotions, music, and beauty.



Thinking Skills

The loss of “thinking skills” is different for every person that’s living with dementia. For some it happens gradually over time, while others experience unpredictable and dramatic losses. Either way, it is inevitable and can be very frustrating and scary.  

Thinking skills include:  

  • Remembering facts
  • Finding the right words
  • Following instructions
  • Understanding reason or logic

Thinking Skills

While “thinking skills” require conscious thought and effort, “feeling skills” happen naturally. People with dementia mostly retain the ability to:  

Feeling skills include:  

  • Feeling and sensing emotion
  • Enjoying music
  • Reminiscing
  • Enjoying nature and beauty

Thinking vs. Feeling Skills 

Understanding the difference between “thinking skills” and “feeling skills” can help caregivers make connections. By engaging people with topics and activities that come naturally, caregivers can make time spent together more enjoyable.  

Use the following examples to discuss how certain activities may or may not be enjoyable for someone with dementia.  

(It’s important to note that every person is unique, and there may be exceptions to the sample activities)

Listening to Music

For most people, when you hear your favorite song, you cannot help but to nod your head, tap your feet, or sing along. Music activates regions of the brain that can trigger movement and emotion. This is especially true for music with personal significance. There are countless studies that show how personally meaningful music can enhance mood and physical functioning for people with dementia. 

Doing a Crossword Puzzle 

Crossword puzzles require recalling specific facts and information. People that have a lot of experience completing crossword puzzles may be able to still enjoy them during the early stages, but over time, this type of activity will become increasingly difficult. 

Watching a New Movie or TV Show

Watching television shows or movies that require following dialogue or plot can be challenging for a person living with dementia. If the care recipient is not familiar with the characters or show, following along can be even more difficult.

Watching a Familiar Movie or TV Show

Familiar TV shows or movies can be comforting and enjoyable. Our favorite movies and shows - especially those that we have watched countless times - require less thought to follow along. The characters that we have come to know over the years can help us laugh and smile.

Remembering People in a Photo

Looking at photos can be enjoyable for people living with dementia. Seeing familiar people or places can evoke feelings and memories associated with the image.  

However, the care recipient may not be able to recall certain details about the photo. Asking the care recipient to recall information that he or she knows they should know, can make them feel embarrassed or frustrated. Instead of asking about the photo, tell them about it instead.

Listening to a Familiar Story

Even though people with dementia can find it hard to recall facts and information, they often enjoy reminiscing about events with personal significance. Cherished memories are connected to emotions. Even if care recipients are not able to recall these memories independently, they may still enjoy hearing them shared. 


Caregiver Training: The Approach

The Care Team Connect program is designed to promote strength-based dementia care. Teams are encouraged to focus on personally meaningful topics and plan activities that come naturally.  

For people that are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar dementia mental abilities - such as memory, language, and reasoning - fade. Despite the loss of cognitive abilities, people with dementia often retain the ability to engage with the world through emotions, music, and beauty.



Thinking Skills

The loss of “thinking skills” is different for every person that’s living with dementia. For some it happens gradually over time, while others experience unpredictable and dramatic losses. Either way, it is inevitable and can be very frustrating and scary.  

Thinking skills include:  

  • Remembering facts
  • Finding the right words
  • Following instructions
  • Understanding reason or logic

Feeling Skills

While “thinking skills” require conscious thought and effort, “feeling skills” happen naturally. People with dementia mostly retain the ability to:

Feeling skills include:  

  • Feeling and sensing emotion
  • Enjoying music
  • Reminiscing
  • Enjoying nature and beauty

Thinking vs. Feeling Skills 

Understanding the difference between “thinking skills” and “feeling skills” can help caregivers make connections. By engaging people with topics and activities that come naturally, caregivers can make time spent together more enjoyable.  

Use the following examples to discuss how certain activities may or may not be enjoyable for someone with dementia.  

(It’s important to note that every person is unique, and there may be exceptions to the sample activities)

Listening to Music

For most people, when you hear your favorite song, you cannot help but to nod your head, tap your feet, or sing along. Music activates regions of the brain that can trigger movement and emotion. This is especially true for music with personal significance. There are countless studies that show how personally meaningful music can enhance mood and physical functioning for people with dementia. 

Doing a Crossword Puzzle 

Crossword puzzles require recalling specific facts and information. People that have a lot of experience completing crossword puzzles may be able to still enjoy them during the early stages, but over time, this type of activity will become increasingly difficult. 

Watching a New Movie or TV Show

Watching television shows or movies that require following dialogue or plot can be challenging for a person living with dementia. If the care recipient is not familiar with the characters or show, following along can be even more difficult.

Watching a Familiar Movie or TV Show

Familiar TV shows or movies can be comforting and enjoyable. Our favorite movies and shows - especially those that we have watched countless times - require less thought to follow along. The characters that we have come to know over the years can help us laugh and smile.

Remembering People in a Photo

Looking at photos can be enjoyable for people living with dementia. Seeing familiar people or places can evoke feelings and memories associated with the image.  

However, the care recipient may not be able to recall certain details about the photo. Asking the care recipient to recall information that he or she knows they should know, can make them feel embarrassed or frustrated. Instead of asking about the photo, tell them about it instead.

Listening to a Familiar Story

Even though people with dementia can find it hard to recall facts and information, they often enjoy reminiscing about events with personal significance. Cherished memories are connected to emotions. Even if care recipients are not able to recall these memories independently, they may still enjoy hearing them shared. 


Care Team Connect: Caregiver Training


  • The Approach