Senior Gems

A precious way of looking at the different stages of dementia/Azlheimer’s the “Teepa Snow Style”. Teepa Snow is an occupational therapist working as an expert dementia education specialist with 30 years of experience in geriatrics.


‘Sapphires’ are true blue with normal aging changes – no dementia; slowing down, slower to learn, slower to changes, slower reactions and processing thoughts.

‘Diamonds’ are clear, rigid, hard, many facets, sharp, cuts metal and glass, and a diamond can really shine. Diamonds are still clear but repeat, like routine, are territorial, have lost filter and say what they think even if it hurts the ones they love, rules are for everyone else. Diamonds see errors in everyone and everyone is wrong but them.

‘Emeralds’ are green and in a stop light sequences green represents go. Emeralds are fine, get emotional quickly, make mistakes, and don’t realize it, do things over and over or skip a step completely, they ask “What? Where? When?”, have a limited awareness if ‘real needs’ ( hunger, thirst, voiding, bathing, grooming) Emeralds like choices, get lost in their past life. They often need help and don’t know it or like it.

‘Amber’ is a yellow soft mineral. Ambers are cautious and caught in the moments of time. They are all about sensation, and are explorers, get into stuff, either have sensory tolerance or sensory need, no safety awareness, no ability to understand, repetition of sounds, words, and actions. Ambers do what they like and avoid what they do not. They do not like being helped, touched, handled, showers, or baths.

‘Rubies’ are red and in a stop light sequence red means stop. Their fine motor skills have stopped. Rubies have repetitive actions or motions (rocking), limited visual awareness and words, major sensory changes, lose all depth perception and are easily startled. They can’t figure out details but can copy others.

‘Pearls’ have many layers and are hidden in a shell. They are still and quiet, unable to actively move or respond with limited awareness of the world around them. Pearls have problems swallowing, and have multiple systems failing. The end of the journey is near.