At the end of June, I had the opportunity to experience the first ever North American Dementia Action Alliance Conference in Atlanta. This was an amazing event, the best and most moving dementia conference I have ever been to, and it scrambled my brain in the very best way.
The conference organizers included persons with early-stage dementia in their planning. There were many speakers at the conference who also had dementia, who spoke movingly and clearly about horrendous experiences with diagnosis (example: essentially being told by the doctor to “get your affairs in order”, and just prepare to curl up and die) the stigma that accompanies the diagnosis, the despair the ensues, and the long climb back into hope, purpose and connection which now fills their lives.
There were 30 persons who attended the conference who are currently living well with dementia, and doing amazing things. Yes, they run on adrenaline in conference situations and there is another side to their lives that conference goers like me can only imagine, i.e. the utter exhaustion at the end of the day, the confusion that comes and goes, the losing one’s way in a large hotel, the forgetting a portion of what happened this morning.
Here are 10 things I learned:
Might they be doing a whole lot better now? I think they might. But it is never too late to support people in finding a sense of purpose and meaning, and never too late to treat them with the compassion and respect they deserve. It is with a renewed and profound sense of purpose that I will continue to learn about dementia from the real experts, and to advocate for them, all along the way.
-Marysue Moses, Ebenezer Dimensions Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians of many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, reflecting the demographics of the United States. On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples.
On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer. Since then it has grown to encompass luncheons, picnics, and even popular music performances revolving around praying for the nation.
The National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force, with the intended purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer. According to the Legal Information Institute, the President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.
At Martin Luther Campus, we strive to give every opportunity for prayer and spiritual growth. We supports residents, families and staff to integrate Spiritual Health with their physical, mental and emotional well-being. We honor and respect diverse spiritual needs to each individual as well as making a wide variety of resources available to them.
Our Memory Care program at Ebenezer now has a name – Dimensions. Dimensions has five building blocks: wellness through person-centered, relationship–based care, innovative training, engagement, supportive environments, and family education and support. We have gathered best practices in each of these realms and are giving our sites the tools they need to implement them effectively and consistently.
I chose the name Dimensions not just because it sounds like the word dementia, but because of all the things the word demands that we think about, such as…
…The person with dementia has many different dimensions. We can’t assume that what we see or hear or assume about a person is all of what is there. We must be curious, patient and respectful as we work to discover the length, breadth and depth of each person’s history, personality, preferences, sense of purpose, habits, idiosyncrasies, hot buttons, skills (yes, these people still have skills) and strengths. Their long-term interests and passions need to be encouraged. These people still have a sense of humor and a need to laugh, even if that doesn’t seem obvious.
…What about the spiritual dimension? Did you know that some Native American cultures believe that persons with dementia are doing important spiritual work --- communicating with spirits at a level the rest of us cannot understand. I love the inspiration this idea provides. It spurs me to work hard to create more and more calm in our Ebenezer environments. Imagine how we might honor and reward care partners and caregivers if we all agreed that persons with dementia were indeed doing the most important spiritual work on the planet! Imagine the environments we would build for these folks! Imagine the walking paths, the sense of peace and purpose, the accessibility of nature. The spiritual dimension is indeed another dimension of the person to consider in order to give them the care they require. What moments in their life do they hold as sacred? When do they feel most at peace, most at one with all things? Where have they found solace during hard times in the past? It is important to ponder these questions, search for clues, and to ask the individual, if they are able and willing to respond to them.
The point I am weaving around here is a theme I often remind myself and all those whom I train on various dementia care topics: People with dementia are PEOPLE, first and foremost. They have needs (to be filled) and quirks (to be enjoyed) just like the rest of us. There are things that make them laugh (to be discovered and used as often as possible). They have likes and dislikes (to be respected) good days and bad days (to be tolerated) and they have courage and resilience (to be admired and emulated).
A person with dementia NEVER stops being a person.
With thanks to Megan Carnarius, author and nursing home operator, for the insight on Native American beliefs.
-- Marysue Moses, Dimensions Program Coordinator, mmoses1@fairview. org
Staying away from work or crowded places while sick is important to prevent spreading the flu to others. But that's not an option for seniors living in care centers or assisted living communities making senior flu prevention that much harder at these communities. When you congregate large numbers of people in close quarters, transmission is a lot easier.
However, care centers usually require all employees to be vaccinated, which is the single most effective way to guard against getting the flu. And, it's important to get a flu shot every year, because the virus changes slightly from year to year. Getting a flu shot one year and not the next, will not protect someone from that year's particular strain.
Older adults should make every reasonable effort to get vaccinated early in flu season, but don't do it too early in the season, because occasionally the immunity will wear off before flu season ends, especially if the season lasts into March or April.
While vaccination is the most important senior flu prevention, it's only 70 to 90 percent effective, so some people who receive the vaccination will still get the flu.
So, for at-risk populations, it's especially important that everyone around them also gets vaccinated. That includes everyone involved in taking care of the elderly. And like skilled nursing facilities, some hospitals, require all employees to be vaccinated.
During flu season, practicing good hygiene can help people avoid catching or spreading the flu. Wash hands frequently, especially after touching door knobs and stair rails in public places. Always cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and immediately wash hands afterward. And, of course, stay away from people who are sick. People taking care of the elderly especially need to follow this type of common sense senior flu prevention.
Take care this flu season. If you would like more information about the flu or would want to talk to a healthcare professional about protecting your health. Give us a call today, ask to talk to our Education Specialist, Gretchen and we can get you connected. 952.888.7751
If you have ever surfed websites of senior housing options, I bet you have frequently run into the term “person-centered care” which we owe to Dr. Thomas Kitwood, a British physician who focused on the importance of remembering that a person with dementia is first and foremost a PERSON with particular needs, challenges, strengths and preferences.
Cannot expect persons with dementia to think like we do
It is also due to Dr. Kitwood’s brilliant work that nurses are no longer trained to try to orient persons with dementia to reality, e.g., “No, no, Mrs. Jones, it’s 2017 now – actually your mother is dead, and the farm has been sold!” Thank goodness for Tom Kitwood! He helped us understand that we cannot expect persons with dementia to think like we do. As I’ve heard nursing home operator and author Megan Carnarius say, “We need to cross to their side of the street.” People with dementia simply cannot come over to ours. We need to give them responses that make sense with the way in which they understand the world.
Dementia expert Elion Caspi encourages us to also think about dementia care as “relationship-based care.” If we do not maintain relationship and genuine connection with persons with dementia, trust wears thin. As a result, it becomes challenging for persons with dementia to accept the care they need.
Lost in the grief
It is completely understandable that care partners are exhausted. They often get caught up in the grief of losing the precise relationship they had with their loved one before dementia was part of the picture. All too often, people become angry and bitter, even to the point of saying things such as “Alzheimer’s is worse than death.” That is a direct quote from the despondent husband of a wonderfully clever woman; let’s call her “Pam,” with whom I worked for some years. What a heartbreaking pronouncement from her husband! At this point, Pam still loved to share opinions and insight, sing Broadway tunes, reminisce, walk, dance, and hold hands.
A person is NOT their Alzheimer's disease any more than a person who has cancer is their cancer!
Those of us who have had family members with dementia or other progressive diseases do understand from whence that sentiment arises. However, it is ultimately not a helpful one. Nor is it accurate. It implies that we might as well give up on a person who is still very much alive. This could not be further from the truth. A person is NOT their Alzheimer’s disease any more than a person who has cancer IS their cancer. The person, an intact spiritual being, is still there, though many of their needs have changed dramatically. We do our loved ones a disservice if we refuse to rise to the occasion of their increased needs.
Maintain connections along the way
There are many gifts to be gained by accepting where the person is at, through each and every phase of their dementia experience. There is connection to maintain all along the way. How we connect will vary with different types and different phases of dementia, but in general, smiling, eye contact, gentle touch and approach, curiosity, acceptance of where the person is, conversation about things that are meaningful to the person, sharing laughter, singing, enjoying simple pleasures, giving compliments, promoting calm, validating the person’s feelings, doing things just the way the person likes, making things easier for them, reminiscing, having fun together, sparking creativity, enjoying humor….well, the list of what can be done to maintain a healthy, nurturing relationship goes on and on.
Responding to the world from an earlier developmental time
In short, we can treat the person like a PERSON, and remember that even though this person is losing skills, even though this person may enjoy and indeed benefit from things that children like, this person is still an adult who is simply responding to the world from an earlier developmental time. This person still has strengths and skills we must actively encourage and appreciate in order for them to have a meaningful life.
Language is powerful
Did you notice that I’ve been using the term “care partner” rather than “caregiver?” Language is powerful. When the relationship between a person with dementia and someone caring for them is viewed more as a partnership, what’s implied is that both persons have something to give. Think about it…What might persons with dementia still have to offer us, their care partners?
Some bonds remain unbreakable
They can give valuable input as to what they like and what they don’t like. They can lend us wisdom from past experience; they can share memories of olden days, with humor and perspective. They can inspire us with their courage and resilience. They can give us love. In this process, we may be surprised at how flexible our own capacity to love may become. Even in the late stage of their dementia, our loved one may remind us how some bonds remain unbreakable. Caring for persons with dementia may give us more patience and more appreciation for wordless communication and for life than we’ve ever known.
We are in this together
Thinking about our relationship as a partnership will help make us more open to a person’s participation and input. We just might respect, value and love this person all the more. We are not the same as this person, and we have each been impacted by dementia and changed forever in vastly different ways, but surely we are in this together.
--Marysue Moses, Ebenezer Dementia Care Program Coordinator
Falls can occur anytime to people of any age. However, a fall can be especially dangerous to seniors because a senior is more likely to break a bone in a fall. And a broken bone in a senior can lead to a long recovery period and loss of independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people age 65 or older. One out of three people in this age group falls each year, and more than 90 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling.
Tips to Prevent FallsFirst off, knowing the reasons why people fall can help you learn how to prevent such an accident from happening to your loved one. Most falls occur because of:
Centrex Rehab therapists offer advice on steps you can take to ensure your aging loved one’s safety in the home. Walk through the house room by room and note where modifications are needed – the bedroom, bathroom, hallways and main living areas should be given the most attention. Centrex Rehab Therapy is on-site at Martin Luther Campus.
Room by room, here are some of the changes needed to help prevent falls:
If someone you know has fallen and is in need of post hospital therapy, visit our website at www.MartinLutherCampus.com/transitional-care.html
Cleanliness * Medical Services * Odors * Activities Going On * Staffing
* Genuine Care and Concern * Safety/Security * Training * Friendliness
The list could go on and on but my three pieces of advice would be:
1.) Make a checklist of everything that is truly important to you, things that you VALUE and find someone who will help you get all of them.
2.) If you're looking for your loved one, stop looking at the community as if you were moving in. Ask them what is truly important to them.
2.) Be careful of Referral Agencies that don’t cost money (there’s a reason they don’t). 3.) Lastly, make sure you know the answer to “What happens when…..” (you can no longer provide care here, I run out of money, etc.)
For a full checklist of things to look for in a community or to receive a FREE Choosing Your New Home Guide, call Rachelle at 952.948.5181 or email at email@example.com
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Time for a New Years Resolution. Or maybe it's time that you just do something you've always wanted to do but thought you couldn't. We all say it, "I'm too old for that now." But you're not...
Too many of us are under the false impression that we’ve aged out of experiencing new things, challenging ourselves, or simply having fun.
Here are five tips on moving forward with the New You this year:
I hear it from people all of the time. "I want to stay home as long as possible."
This is a big reason that individuals aren't moving into Assisted Living or Memory Care. But do they know that participating in Adult Day Programs can help you live at home longer and a better quality of life at that? Unfortuately, most of the time, people don't know about Adult Day Clubs and the major benefits they offer.
Exercise, spiritual services, snacks & meals, music and special outings are just some of the activities Club members can enjoy. Important services like bathing, medication management, and therapy - physical, speech or occupational - are offered as well. You can choose to participate in a full day or half day as well as which days you'd like to come Monday-Friday with door to door transportation available.
For more information on the care, lifestyle and setting of Adult Day Clubs please contact Heather Liesenfeld at (952)948-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Community Relations
Hello friends, my name is Luke and I'd love to share with you ALL of the wonderful things happening at Martin Luther Campus. Be sure to check our Blog, Lifestyle page and Facebook page often to stay updated on the happenings at our community!