I’m Jennifer Brush, and I’m on a mission to redesign dementia care. Whether I’m assisting a family in-home as they transition through a new diagnosis or leading a live training for a long-term care community, my work centers on one thing and one thing only—focusing on what individuals with dementia can do.
My work with dementia has taken me around the globe, in front of audiences in South America, Australia, Israel, Singapore, throughout Europe, to Washington, DC to advise about healthcare policy, into the board rooms of organizations who want to improve their dementia care, and into the living rooms of countless families with their own stories to share.
Long before I made redesigning dementia care my career, I was a speech language pathologist who saw the need and opportunity to make big changes in the way our older adults were treated. I was appalled by what I saw in the nursing homes where I worked: people who could be my grandmother or my grandfather sitting in wheelchairs, doing nothing all day, being trapped in wet diapers, calling out and being ignored. Where others saw problems to disregard, I saw people who deserved better.
I started to learn everything I could about dementia, spending numerous hours reading and studying with experts. My first big “ah hah” moment? By using the Spaced Retrieval memory intervention, I could help individuals with dementia learn and retain information. I co-authored a book on the subject, and soon the technique was being implemented in care communities across the nation. In the past 20 years, a large body of research has been completed on this intervention, and now I have co-authored a second book about this evidence-based memory strategy. You can learn all about it by watch this video.
I knew I had the ability to improve long-term care industry wide and on a global scale.
I was hired as a research assistant at IDEAS Institute doing innovative research in the area of environmental design for individuals with dementia. Endlessly passionate and dedicated to the work, I moved up to Project Manager and then Executive Director. I co-authored the Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit for Dementia Care and about 25 different peer-reviewed research articles, becoming known as an expert in environmental interventions to improve communication and eating/swallowing for people living with dementia.
In my 25-year-long career redesigning dementia care, I have written 5 books, won three awards, been invited to speak at national and international conferences, served as a co-chair on a national person-centered care task force, became an inaugural member of the Association Montessori International (AMI) Advisory Board for Montessori for Aging and Dementia, and became the only AMI Certified Educator in the U.S. teaching the Montessori dementia care workshops. Now I travel all over the United States and the world educating others about dementia care.