About Positive Dementia Paths

Our vision is to help caregivers create confident care and safe environments for persons with memory loss through occupational therapy based consultation, training, and education in the home setting. The company is dedicated to preserving the dignity and well-being of the person with memory loss while assisting family members maintain connection.

How are we unique?

  • Positive Dementia Paths offers families a unique way to keep quality care going for their loved one beyond the end of Medicare paid Home Health Care Services.
  • We don’t provide therapy for the person with memory loss, but focus on caregiver education and training caregivers to increase their abilities to keep the person with dementia independent in daily activities and actively engaged in life tasks for as long as possible.
  • It differs from other services that offer home health aide assistance because Dr. Donovan uses her expertise and knowledge of occupational therapy to educate and train the caregiver.
  • As the person’s dementia progresses Dr. Donovan can provide updated information and timely guidance to caregivers to allow the person to continue to be as independent and engaged in life as possible.

 A Five Step Consultation Process

  1. A complimentary phone consultation with Dr. Donovan determines individualized needs.
  2. A home visit is scheduled during which Dr. Donovan gathers information using evidence based assessments, interviews, and professional observations.
  3. Assessment results are used to develop a written plan that provides action steps to improve safety, independence and communication.
  4. The plan is reviewed with the family and Dr. Donovan demonstrates care techniques and models communication approaches that help caregivers
  5. Caregivers may seek additional consultations to modify the plan as the person’s dementia progresses

A message from the owner


Mary Lou Donovan, PhD, OTR/L

Hi. My name is Mary Lou Donovan. I am the owner of Positive Dementia Paths and have been a Registered Occupational Therapist since 1978 with expertise in working with people who have dementia, or memory loss, and their personal or professional caregivers.

After working in skilled nursing facilities, home care agencies, and memory care units as an occupational therapist, and viewing demographic information in the literature about the rapid increase in number of people with dementia, I became aware of several things:

  1. There is no perfect way or perfect setting to care for a person with dementia because each person is an individual, with their own strengths and needs.
  2. For emotional and practical reasons, many families are motivated to keep their loved one with dementia at home for as long as they can.
  3. Paying for care for a person with dementia at a facility is expensive, and many families are not able to afford that level of care. In addition, as the number of people with dementia grows, there will not be enough institutions that will offer residential care and services for people with dementia.
  4. Home health care services paid by Medicare or other insurances may pay for initial professional therapy costs, but not for very long if a person with dementia has no qualifying medical need.
  5. Private home health agencies offer home health aide services, but none offer the level of training for caregivers from an occupational therapy perspective.
  6. As an occupational therapist, I possess the knowledge and skill level to train caregivers to provide confident care for their loved one with dementia.

From these observations I saw a gap in service provision and to fill that gap in I was led to start this service.


Mary Lou Donovan, PhD, OTR/L
to practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin
Registered and Certified for practice by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

  • Owner of Positive Dementia Paths
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Post-secondary, and Adult Education, Capella University, 2006
  • Master of Education, University of Minnesota-Duluth. Emphasis: Exercise Science for People with Disabilities, 1991
  • MN Vocational Teaching Licensed 1984
  • Bachelors of Science, Occupational Therapy from University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, 1978
  • Published work in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy on the positive aspects of dementia caregiving.
  • Allen Authorized Instructor- Expert Advisor earned through the Association of Allen Authorized Advisors International, 1999.
  • Assistant Professor at Master’s Level Occupational Therapy Program for 20 years.
  • Experience working in skilled nursing facilities, home health care, memory care units, and short term rehabilitation settings.
  • Expertise with problem solving, solution creating, and managing disruptive behaviors that may occur with a person who has dementia.
  • Expertise in providing a creative, caring, consultation, and individualized education and training. Giving families the skills and knowledge they need to become confident caregivers.


  • American Occupational Therapy Association
  • Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association
  • Allen Cognitive Network