Dr. Steven Sabat, PhD, is a psychology professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Sabat focuses on neuropsychology and dementia, specifically the remaining cognitive and social abilities of people with Alzheimer’s disease. He is also this year’s Dimensions of Dementia Keynote Speaker.
At the Community Forum on March 30, and the Professional Symposium on March 31, Dr. Sabat will explore the intact abilities of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the subjective experience of having the disease, and ways in which communication can be enhanced between people with the disease and caregivers. Read more from Dr. Sabat as you prepare for this year’s Dimensions of Dementia Conference:
1) What piqued your interest in research related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
I was ten years old when my beloved aunt Helen died. It was my first experience of the death of a loved one. My parents, grandparents, aunt, and I lived together and I saw her every day when I was a child. For three years, she struggled with the effects of brain damage that occurred initially, perhaps, due to a small stroke, but that degenerated increasingly so that she experienced intractable pain requiring heavy medication to manage. When she died, there was a hole in my heart and I discovered the truth in C.S. Lewis’s observation that “grief is the price we pay for love” even though I’d not yet heard of Lewis. In the immediate aftermath of her death, I said to myself that I need to do something with my life to help people like her.
2) What has been your favorite project to work on thus far in your career?
I cannot say that I have had any one favorite project, because there have been only two: teaching undergraduate students at Georgetown University and working with people with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners to help improve their lives to whatever degree is possible. Both of these have given me great joy and fulfillment.
3) Spoiler Alert: Can you reveal a little bit about what you will be talking about at our annual Dimensions of Dementia conference this year?
At the dinner event I want to talk about how “memory loss” is an inaccurate way of talking about what happens to people with Alzheimer’s. At the conference the next day, I’d like to explore how it is possible for care partners to mistake strengths for deficits in their loved ones diagnosed with AD and what we can do to avoid that.
Pictures from Dimensions of Dementia Conferences in years past.
4) What is your favorite part of your job?
I’ve never really had a job. I have always had a calling or a vocation so that I have always loved teaching young people – Georgetown undergraduate students. They have helped me to be a better person than I might otherwise have been. And I have always loved doing research trying to find the strengths in people with AD and to help their loved ones work more effectively to the benefit of everyone concerned. I guess you could say that I love trying to make the world a better place.
5) What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Doing things with my wife such as traveling or even just spending a day together doing whatever strikes our fancy (even running errands), visiting with my daughter who lives in New York City, watching baseball games (I love baseball). We are volunteer ushers at a local theater and that is fun to do together. Cooking and going to the movies are also fun. My wife loves popcorn at the movies and I enjoy experiencing that with her. And, of course, I love speaking at conferences such as the one sponsored by the Miami Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and working with the people whose great efforts make such conferences happen.
Click HERE to register for the 2016 Dimensions of Dementia Annual Conference and hear more from Dr. Sabat!