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Dropping Anchor

We know the experience of learning more about a rare or young onset dementia diagnosis, no matter which diagnosis, can bring with it challenging thoughts and feelings.

Members of RDS Canada have told us that “this is a heart wrenching journey”. When you read information on this website you may find that difficult emotions arise. In this situation this is very normal. You may find that challenging thoughts, feelings or sensations may get in the way of engaging with the material on our website. We always encourage you to take care of yourself. Sometimes that means receiving information in small bits at a time – it’s okay to step away and come back later. You may also want to try different methods to support yourself, if needed. We offer the suggestion of dropping anchor when these stormy emotions seem like swells on the sea.

The metaphor of dropping anchor is a three step process to hold you steady. While the anchor will not stop the swells or waves it will help you stay in one place and not get swept out to sea. This metaphor, coined by Dr. Russ Harriss who is the author of When Life Hits Hard (2021), can provide a helpful guide. The dropping anchor steps may help you to feel more grounded and to hold steady through the swells of emotion. When we anchor ourselves, it can be easier for us to move ahead in the face of difficult thoughts or feelings. Dropping anchor can help us to engage in the world around us.


You have arrived at this website to learn more about rare and young onset dementia. We know that it’s important to you to find information to help yourself or a family or friend. If you need to drop anchor at any time you may click on the anchor button, and you will be brought back to this page. Once here we encourage you to follow these three steps and use the guides in the images below:

Acknowledge Icon

Acknowledge without judgement, your inner experience. What are the thoughts, feelings and sensations you are experiencing. Identifying and naming this experience can be helpful.

Connect Icon

Connect with your body. Change your posture. Breathe deeply. Press your feet into the floor or press your palms together. Noticing your physical being and connecting with your body is the second step.

Engage Icon

Engage with what you are doing. In this third step, engage with the world around you. Look out the window. Notice the texture of the chair you are sitting on. Count five items you can see. Use your senses to notice what is around you. Now move forward with intention.

These steps are designed to help you move forward in the face of difficulty. They will not remove your thoughts, feelings or sensations. However, they may help you move forward in the face of it, and to focus on what you wish to learn or find out about rarer or young onset dementia. For further details and to walk through dropping anchor for different emotions that may arise, click on the images in this gallery.

Photos by M.P. Sullivan