Gwendolyn de Geest, RN, BSN, MA, is an educator and speaker in dementia care. She has been a professor at Vancouver Community College since 1986, where she currently teaches Home Support and Resident Care Attendant students, both in the classroom, nursing home, and special care unit settings.
Born in 1949, Gwendolyn grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She was the spoiled daughter, born in between two brothers, and she quickly learned that she could cross a street by herself long before she was old enough to get married. She helped her family understand that the world wouldn't collapse if one went to bed with dirty feet. It was here in Edmonton that Gwendolyn earned her Nursing Diploma at The University of Alberta Hospital. During her training, she discovered that she was definitely a "high-touch and not a high-tech" type of nurse, as each and every time her nursing instructor entered the Operating Room, Gwendolyn would either drop or contaminate an instrument. An amazing journey followed, and it would be more than twenty-five years, before Gwendolyn returned to learning, determined to achieve a BSN from the University of British Columbia.
In 2001, Gwendolyn completed three years of study and research at the University of Victoria Centre on Aging. The title of this project was, "The Relation Between the Perceived Role of Family and the Behavior of the Person With Dementia." This paper is published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (May/June, 2003). This study evoked so many themes and needs, both for the person afflicted with dementia, and their caregivers.
As a result of witnessing the joys and sorrows of these carers, Gwendolyn was moved to write The Living Dementia Approach that you are reading now. This work touches the lives of these individuals in a most intimate manner, allowing both their dignity and humanness to remain intact.
Gwendolyn lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and two children. You can reach Gwendolyn at gmdegeest@CruiseRespite.com.