Mary Connell

Livable Canada

Mary Connell

Project Manager for the Butterfly Model of Dementia Care and Dementia Advisor for the Region of Peel

Using the Physical Environment to Combat Changes to the Brain with Dementia: It’s About Way More Than Memory!

As humans, we know our brains are responsible for so much of what we do in our daily lives.  Why then, when we think of caring for people with dementia, do we only focus on memory?  Absolutely every job of the brain – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, logic, the regulation of hormones – is impacted by the progression of dementia. Currently, there is no medication to support those living with dementia who struggle with the impact of changes to the brain, so our only hope is to create spaces that allow them to live independently with joy and meaning. This presentation will describe the changes to the brain beyond just memory and what simple and inexpensive things can be done to achieve independence for longer, and give people living with dementia and their families a way to live successfully. Yes folks, it really is that easy! 


Mary is a Registered Nurse with a 30-year career as a frontline practitioner in intensive care, Emergency and Public Health. She has also held leadership positions as the Manager of the Healthy Babies Health Children Program and as the Strategic Advisor for the Commissioner of Health Services for the Region of Peel. Over the last few years Mary has dedicated her time to large scale projects requiring transformational change – such as the implementation of the Butterfly Model of Dementia Care in all Region of Peel LTC homes. In her current role, and through her experience as the child of a parent with Alzheimer’s, trying to navigate dementia services in Ontario, Mary has garnered  the inspiration and drive needed to work towards real change for people living with dementia. She is truly honoured to be a small part of this change through her work on the Butterfly Model.