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Empathy and Dementia with Lisa Twigg

Updated: Jun 30


Episode 38 - The Professional Empathy Podcast

Empathy and Dementia with Lisa Twigg

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In this episode of The Professional Empathy Podcast, Leanne interviews social worker Lisa Twigg about empathy and dementia. Lisa shares insights from her personal experience caring for her father, who had dementia, and discusses her book 'Eighty Years Without Dementia', which reflects on the lessons learned from this journey. They explore the broader definition of dementia, emphasising that it encompasses various diseases like Alzheimer's and impacts more than just memory. Lisa highlights the crucial role of empathy, inclusion, and kindness in caring for those with dementia, emphasising the need to maintain the personhood of the person with dementia. She also stresses the importance of caregivers seeking support and maintaining their own well-being to prevent burnout. Through her storytelling, Lisa aims to dispel stigma and fear and educate others about dementia. This is a beautiful conversation dedicated to the memory of Bob Twigg.

Learn more about Lisa's work at :

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Notable Quotes

  • "If you've met one person with dementia, you've met one person with dementia."

  • "Dementia is an umbrella term, with Alzheimer's being the most well-known condition.."

  • "People with dementia are still human beings with needs and feelings, deserving of kindness and empathy."

  • "Empathy, inclusion, and understanding are crucial in caring for individuals with dementia."

  • "Caregivers must seek support and maintain their own well-being to prevent burnout."

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Key Points Discussed:

Definition and Impact of Dementia:

  • Dementia as an umbrella term for various diseases, with Alzheimer's being the most recognised.

  • The impact of dementia on daily living activities, beyond just memory loss.

Personal Experience and Insights:

  • Lisa's personal journey caring for her father with dementia.

  • Reflections from her book "Eighty Years Without Dementia" and her upcoming book focusing on her father's end-of-life story.

Importance of Empathy and Inclusion:

  • Emphasising the need for empathy, kindness, and continued human connection for individuals with dementia.

  • Avoiding pity and maintaining respect for the personhood of those with dementia.

Caregiver Well-being:

  • The necessity for caregivers to seek support and maintain their own well-being to avoid burnout.

  • Balancing caregiving duties with personal hobbies and activities to sustain their own health.

Educational and Supportive Efforts:

  • Lisa Twigg's efforts to educate others and dispel stigma through her writing and public speaking.

  • Encouraging a better understanding of dementia and the experiences of caregivers.

Key Takeaways:

Empathy is Essential:

  • Genuine empathy and understanding are vital in providing care and support for individuals with dementia.

Human Connection:

  • Maintaining human connection and treating people with dementia with kindness and respect is crucial.

Caregiver Support:

  • Caregivers need to prioritise their own well-being and seek support to effectively care for their loved ones with dementia.

Educational Outreach:

  • Educating the public about dementia can help dispel myths, reduce stigma, and provide better support for affected families.

Personal Stories as Learning Tools:

  • Sharing personal stories, like Lisa Twigg's experiences, can provide valuable lessons and support for others facing similar challenges.

Learn more about Empathy First at

Thank you, Lisa, for your valuable contribution and for sharing your journey to help others navigate the challenges of dementia with compassion and empathy.


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Passionista, TEDx Speaker, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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