The Heart Over the Head: A Revolutionary Approach to Dementia Care

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A nurse driving a wheelchair with a senior man in a hospital park.
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Over the decades, those who treat people with dementia have tried a number of methods of care to deal with symptoms, from physical exercise to drug therapy. Tena Alonzo, director of education and research at Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, Arizona is pioneering a more revolutionary approach

Beatitudes Campus looks and feels nothing like a nursing home. There are no restraints, no rigid schedules and chocolates and lollipops are plentiful. Alonzo says rather than managing her clients more like livestock prone to escape and to not being cooperative, she chooses to develop the emotional qualities she says people with dementia retain. These strong emotional abilities can be used to improve and maintain quality of life.

"We know that, even though folks [with dementia] struggle with [thinking],  their emotional brain remains in tact and often we can use how they feel to create quality of life comfort and a sense of peace," Alonzo explains. 

As part of our week-long series on caregiving, Alonzo shares how her emotional approach to dementia care is changing lives for patients.

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