My name is Christi Crawford. I am Founder/CEO of Dementia360 Consulting. I am also a wife, mother of 6 kids combined in a blended family (all boys and 1 girl). I recently remarried in October 2021, and instantly became a grandmother to a precious baby girl when our families joined. I am also a dog mom of 2 girl dogs that are just as spoiled if not more, as all the kids and grandbaby!
I have worked in healthcare for 30+ years and have been a nurse for just over 11 of those. My initial experience with dementia began when I was only 17 working as a nurse’s aide in a facility in Kansas. Since that time, I have worked with hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals and families living with dementia or caring for their loved ones with dementia. I specialize in geriatric care and have worked in many settings caring for the geriatric population including hospital, nursing home, assisted living, memory care, home health, private duty, and hospice care.
Professionally, I have worked in leadership roles within senior care that include Director of Nursing, and as a Licensed Assisted Living Operator as well as worked privately for families as a Patient Advocate, Coach, and Consultant.
Volunteering is very important to me; therefore, I continue to volunteer with the local Alzheimer's Association as a Community Educator and Support Group Facilitator as well as be involved annually as part of the Alzheimer's Walk to END and currently as a committee member of The Longest Day fundraiser- Annual Night of Hope Gala.
I have helped many families on a dementia journey with their loved one as well as walked that dementia journey personally with my own family. I experienced first-hand with my own family what that journey encompasses with an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis and just how crippling that feels to the family and in particularly, my youngest son (as well as his father, uncle, and grandmother). My son saw this horrific disease take his grandfather from what he used to know to not knowing or recognizing him at all. My son had volunteered for years where I have worked but he had now personally become aware of this disease and the horror it takes on the individual living with the disease and the entire family as well as that it was not just a disease that struck the senior population. Additionally, I have also been a personal caregiver to my own family member living with dementia and know the strain of being a caregiver; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have personally experienced the physical aspects caregivers face when a family member has a dementia diagnosis as well as the emotions and the feeling of being spiritually bankrupt that comes with the dementia journey. I too understand what It feels like to not have any understanding, to feel lost, and to have lost what joy life had for us and the loss of any hope amid such a diagnosis.
Over the years, I have helped families that feel lost, not only in the healthcare system but also on their own dementia journey. These families have felt many of the same emotions and feelings as myself and my family members as well as so many other families. They feel lost when it comes to understanding dementia, hopeless, overwhelmed, and have no idea how to manage the ups and downs of their dementia journey, the behaviors that may come along, the emotions that come along with losing their loved one before they are physically gone and much more.
Unfortunately, many of those in healthcare including the management and staff in many facilities don't have the answers or the tools help the families and sometimes to help themselves to care for the loved ones of these families. Having been in these roles, I know and understand that their intentions are good but when push comes to shove, the time is not available, the tools are not readily available, and the finances are not offered to make the tools available to the management team and their staff. What happens? We go back to just doing enough to meet our state requirements. We do what is required, rather than what is truly needed to improve the quality of dementia care and enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia. Unfortunately, that is not enough! Doing “just enough” creates staff that are overwhelmed, residents not having their needs met, staff not able to understand what residents are communicating to them, stressed staff, staff burnout, stressed families, overmedication, over hospitalization, staff turnover, high costs to facilities and organizations because of turnover of residents and staff, and the vicious cycle goes on and on which ultimately leads to residents not having any quality of care (or minimal) and little quality of life.
I am passionate about creating a change around dementia that ultimately creates dementia-friendly communities that have a full understanding of dementia. I want to create understanding that allows for caregivers and families to learn tools to better understand what their loved one living with dementia is experiencing as well as communicating. I want to create opportunities that will equip and empower healthcare workers with the tools and training that is needed to improve the quality of care and to enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia. I want those on a personal dementia journey to have a sense of joy and hope throughout their journey.