While most people tend to think that dementia care means having to accept what is lost, I can help you discover the world of what’s left. By sharing my knowledge about brain change, dementia and dementia care, we can explore creative ways of connecting with your loved one so you can increase your care skills and improve the quality of life for everyone involved–including yourself.

When I was in my 30’s my mother developed Alzheimer’s disease with which she survived for 13 years, during which time I learned more about the disease but understood less. After her death I volunteered in various hospices to work with dementia patients for several decades. Then six years ago, I discovered the Positive Approach to Care® , an organization begun by a woman named Teepa Snow who demonstrated practical, hands-on dementia-specific skills I had so badly needed but never seen in all the years I’d helped with my mother on her journey. So I left my career as a graduate professor of creative writing, started a business called Partnering In Care in New Mexico and became a Teepa Snow Certified Independent PAC® Trainer and Advanced Consultant in dementia care. Today, I offer public speaking about dementia care for those living with dementia and those who care for them as well as facilitating 3 different kinds of dementia care support for the Santa Fe community:


Beginning April 2023, as an advanced PAC® Consultant and PAC® Trainer I facilitate ongoing educational support classes for the families. Designed by Teepa Snow‘s Positive Approach to Care and hosted by Kingston Residence of Santa Fe, each experiential class includes 90 minutes of video clips by Teepa Snow, practice sessions and discussions with participants about creatively solving individual situations. The only requirement is a willingness to learn about dementia and a commitment to attend all five classes with an open heart.


As a PAC® Certified Independent Trainer, I offer experiential workshops designed by dementia expert Teepa Snow to help professional emergency medical service folks improve the skills they use to approach, connect, understand, and communicate with people living with brain change.


  • What is Normal vs. NOT-Normal Aging?
  • Understanding Dementia in the Brain
  • Understanding The Progression
  • Working with 5 Unmet Needs
  • Where to Look When Someone Gets Lost
  • The Proper Approach
  • The Role of the Amygdullae
  • Starting the Conversation
  • Practical Dementia Specific Skills
  • Securing Your Person’s Environment
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Know Your Agenda Without Showing Your Agenda
  • Job Specific Challenges with Dementia


  • What is Normal vs. NOT-Normal Aging?
  • Seeing Dementia From the Other Side
  • How to Get the Family on board
  • Using the 5 Senses
  • Understanding the GEMS ® States
  • Working with 5 Unmet Needs
  • When Dementia Stops By For The Holidays
  • Communicating Without Language
  • The Role of the Amygdullae
  • Starting the Conversation
  • Practical Dementia Specific Skills
  • Securing Your Person’s Environment
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Know your Agenda Without Showing Your Agenda


My goal as a PAC®Certified Advanced Consultant is to help you figure out what you need to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it at the right time. We’ll start with an initial free 30-minute phone conversation to learn a bit about each other and if we decide we can work together, I’ll help you create a written assessment of where you are on the journey: what’s working well for you, what’s not working so well, and what skills you might need to learn next. When needed, I can help you and your loved ones through difficult transitions.


“There is no group Laura can’t reach. She knows how to teach to a large crowd and to smaller groups in hands-on workshops as well as in private one-on-one encounters. She is a master at organizing, presenting complicated ideas, and creating compelling Power Points.” TD, Santa Fe

“I think about things and having you reinforce thoughts and ideas is very meaningful, plus giving me insight into other possibilities!…everything is not solved, of course, but I begin to think more positively. Thanks for your time, expertise patience and wonderful friendship.” JR, Santa Fe

“There is no group Laura can’t reach. She knows how to teach to a large crowd and to smaller groups in hands-on workshops as well as in private one-on-one encounters. “ FR, Oregon

“I felt heard, emotionally held and wisely advised.” SD, New Mexico

Training with Teepa Snow,
Fort Worth, TX, 2020

2022-23 EVENTS

  • Currently offering ongoing Consulting for staff at the memory care center at Kingston Healthcare Residence in Santa Fe .
  • Offering monthly public talks at Kingston Healthcare Residency for anyone interested in learning more about dementia awareness, knowledge and skills.
  • Three on-going support groups for families: a) bi-monthly with Dr. Kitty Fallon of the Gloaming; b) monthly meetings with the Brainiacs hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association; and c) a monthly support meeting for anyone interested in learning more about dementia and dementia care at Kingston Residence of Santa Fe.
  • Facilitating Dementia Care Classes designed by Teepa Snow at Kingston Residence, 2023
  • Trained memory care staff at Montecito Santa Fe in Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care®
  • Training at the Santa Fe County Senior Community Services in March 4, 2022
  • Training Santa Fe Emergency Medical Team, Santa Fe Police and Santa Fe Firemen as part of the Alternative Rescue Unit of Santa Fe in October, 2022
  • Training volunteer caregivers about dementia care at Coming Home
  • Speaking to Los Alamos Lab employees as part of their Well-Being Expo in September 2022
  • I talked about my personal journey with dementia care at The Celebration in Santa Fe, on March, 2022. Also spoke with them about dementia awareness in June of 2022
  • Lecture/discussion at Santa Fe Doorways, Q and A session in Feb., 2022 on dementia awareness and another lecture discussion on dementia communication in July, 2022.
  • The Brainiacs: an ongoing support group for dementia couples through The Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Facilitating The Gloaming twice monthly a support group for care partners with Dr. Kitty Fallon on zoom.
  • Lecture/discussion on dementia and the holidays for Memory Care Alliance in November, 2022
  • Re-certified as an Independent Trainer and Consultant in October and September 2022 with the Positive Approach to Care® organization
  • Certified as an Independent Advanced Trainer in October 2022.
  • Lecture on the effects of dementia on the five senses at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Association Conference on Dementia in March 2022.
  • Trained with co-facilitator Paula Levy at a Colorado financial institution
  • Facilitated with Paula Levy, 5 successful Never Alone Care Partner Support Series by zoom.
  • An active 2023 sponsor in the Walk to End Parkinson’s and in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

For Laura’s story of how she acquired her dementia awareness why she loves working with people who are living with dementia, go here.

–With thanks for this recording to THE CELEBRATION of Santa Fe,NM

To see an interview with Laura about her work in dementia care, go here.



After my mother died—after the phone calls and the newspaper announcements and the consolation cards and the burial arrangements; after the trips to the airport to pick up my four sisters and the long night of sorting and choosing and remembering and confessing and trips to the Goodwill until we had five suitcases waiting by the front door; and finally, after dropping off each sister with a noisy goodbye and a suitcase of memories at the airport to return to her own life—in the relief of the silent three hours it took me to drive home, I found myself in a surprisingly difficult place.

It was not, as I’d expected, a place of grief. Apparently the previous thirteen years of my mother’s dementia had soaked up most of that. Nor did I feel any nostalgia at leaving behind the house and the town and the people I’d grown up with. Having survived a four-hour funeral reception full of old friends, neighbors, and relatives who’d vanished like leaves in winter when our family had most needed their support, had cured me of nostalgia. I was glad to be done with that place for good.

silence in the woods

But after I’d returned to my home in the woods, what I noticed was a different feeling in the silence. Not the silence of my house or the silence out in the woods around my house–but the silence inside of me. It was like the kind of silence when the doors of an elevator seal shut. At first I was aware of it only when I was writing. Then it began to show up when I was driving, or walking the dogs down to the river behind my house. At night, it was like the thin sound of a mosquito, getting louder, then softer, then louder. Not threatening, just different. A distraction. A soft, humming silence that was coming from me, but somehow not belonging to me. Some nights in bed, book open on my lap, I’d wait for it to start. If it didn’t and I started reading, there it was again. I tried leaving music on while I slept. I tried shutting all the windows and then I tried leaving them open. I worried about my hearing. I didn’t have a furnace to blame, but I did try turning off the fridge once to see if the noise of silence stopped. Nothing seemed to work.

For anyone who reaches the end of the dementia journey, what I’m describing may not be unusual. It happens when an emotion you’ve packed away year after year while always planning to let it out in a great catastrophic flood someday, somewhere, when this is all over–doesn’t show up. I’d spent my thirties and half my forties choking back grief caused by a disease I knew nothing about, yet when the end finally came and I was finally free to express my feelings?  Nothing came. No explosive rage, no uncontrollable sobbing, cursing, nightmares, or histrionics. Nothing except a different sort of quiet in the background of everything I did—a quiet that, like my mother’s dementia, came surprisingly close enough at times to sounding like a roar.

old suitcase

About a month later I remembered the suitcase I’d taken from her house. I’d stored it in the back of a closet and hadn’t touched it since. So I hauled it out to the middle of the room and opened it and that’s when I first realized that several items I’d taken had more to do with who she‘d been as a person than who she’d been as my mother. A black-and-white photo of her as a toddler sitting in a toy wagon drawn by a dog. Another of her as a teenager posing on the porch steps of a white clapboard house I’d never been to. Earrings I’d shoplifted for her but kept for myself the day she was diagnosed with dementia. Also, dozens of Post-it notes I’d collected off the cupboards and walls of her kitchen before the realtor showed up, Post-its stuffed into my pockets like loose cash. Fish! Keep This at 60! Forks Here! Do not open! Call Carolyn now!

light shining down on pine trees

So I gathered up these memories that had nothing to do with who I was or had been and I put them into an empty cigar box. Then I got a hammer and some nails and called the dogs to go for a walk. In the woods behind my house I climbed into the branches of an old ponderosa pine and as high up as I could reach, with the dogs watching below, I nailed the box of my mother’s memories to the ponderosa’s trunk.

Why this worked I don’t know, but after a day or two I noticed my awareness of the silence had faded. I started to breathe easier. I started to feel hopeful. Sometimes at night I thought hard about the box out there and what I hadn’t put in it. Stories I couldn’t quite tell her, questions I hadn’t thought to ask her before she lost her language. But I didn’t feel a need to go visit. If I passed the ponderosa while out hiking with someone, I didn’t mention it. I never thought to climb up to see if it was still there. All I knew was that something that had frightened me for thirteen years had eased. It was over. I felt my own life beginning again.

Five years later when I sold the property and packed my car to move to the other side of the country, I didn’t go out to the woods to say goodbye. Of course it was probably less of a box by then than a rain-warped ledge of cobwebs and wasp wings, stained bits of photographs, and that pair of earrings I stole for her when I’d reached the point of not caring if I was caught. But by offering a place for her memories, I was able to go on with my own. And the strange part is that today, nearly thirty years later, I remember that box sitting up there just as level, straight, and strong as the white clapboard house my mother had once posed in front of as a teenager.

READING COLORADO: A Literary Road Guide. Due out in April 2023 with a selection from my book, Stygo

REMEMBER ME, a novel published by Henry Holt in 1998 and by Picador and Piatkus in 2000, is based on my attempts to understand and accept the challenges of my mother’s dementia. Although it was written years before I took formal training in dementia care, it was a Barnes & Nobel Discover New Writers selection and a critically acclaimed finalist for the Dublin Award and the Mountains and Plains Bookseller’s Award.

STYGO won the 1994 Colorado Book Award for best design, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Foundation Award for First Fiction, the Mountains and Plains Regional Bookseller’s Award, and was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award.

STYGO is a collection of interlocked stories about people trapped in a dying company town in Colorado. Initially published by MacMurray and Beck in 1994, it was re-issued by Simon and Schuster in 1996, and by McAdams/Cage in 2000.


PAC Certified Independent Trainers and Consultants are not employees of Positive Approach, LLC.  Opinions and views expressed by Laura Hendrie, LLC do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Positive Approach, LLC or its employees.  Positive Approach, LLC is not liable for any actions by PAC Certified Independent Trainers or Consultants.