the DAWN Method

Here at the Dementia & Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network (DAWN®), we’ve discovered something really special. We’ve found that although our clients lose their rational functions, they are able to live intuitively—enjoying emotions, beauty, and everything their senses bring to them—in the present. By recognizing this pattern, we’ve developed an approach that makes living and working with people who have dementia less stressful because when their emotional needs are met, they are happier. This means that people with dementia can stay home longer, with fewer behavior problems, and their families have less stress and expense.

The seven tools of the DAWN® Method help families and caregivers evaluate a loved one or client’s behavior and then respond quickly and successfully to the emotion driving it. When someone’s emotional needs are met consistently, s/he will be more comfortable and less prone to negative behaviors.

The first three DAWN® tools help people who have dementia develop a sense of security. The last four tools enhance a sense of happiness or wellbeing. When caregivers use the first three tools, their loved ones and clients begin to develop a sense of security and become more emotionally stable. The last four tools can be used to enhance wellbeing in minutes and have lasting results.

Here in Moscow, Idaho, where we have been using the DAWN® Method for six years, the change in our clients’ moods and behavior is remarkable. Instead of descending further into an inner world marked by fear and frustration, they become increasingly relaxed and remain engaged with the outer world in an intuitive way. The following diagram is how we picture the tools of the DAWN Method:

the DAWN Method 7 Tools

The first tool, mood management, is central. It is the beginning—the constant and renewable energy source that supports the other tools. Without a positive mood, our efforts in the other six areas would be short-lived. Once we, as caregivers, know how to establish and maintain a positive mood, we can begin creating an enduring sense of security in the two areas most vital to someone undergoing cognitive impairment: living with confusion and being cared for by others. Then, while we’re seeing our loved ones and clients’ sense of security growing, we enhance their lives with the four components of wellbeing. Once all seven of the DAWN tools are in use, the relationship between us—the caregivers—and our loved ones and clients becomes a thing of beauty.