Honoring a Loved One with Trees for Change

In celebration of Earth Day, I want to share an organization that I recently became acquainted with that is supporting the efforts of saving our National Forests.  Trees for Change is a wonderful option for honoring a loved one or pet.

According to Trees for Change, the U.S. National Forests cover 8.5 percent of the United States, providing roughly 190 million acres of woodlands that serve as the home to many species of animals. These lands belong to all of us and are meant to help preserve the environment for future generations.

Sometimes, areas of U.S. National Forests need our help. When wildfires rip through them, wildlife becomes displaced, and the forests are badly scorched. Replanting trees can help to regrow these areas in order to ensure that they can one day become homes for wildlife again and places where families can explore and discover the beauty of nature.

Trees for a Change is a service that lets you do good while giving gifts to people who matter in your life. We make it possible for you to pay to have a tree or a grove of trees planted in honor of a loved one, friend, customer or employee or in memory of a deceased person or pet. Their tree gifts cost less than the average bouquet of flowers, and they make a big difference for U.S. National Forest lands.

Here’s how it works:

  • You purchase the tree gift of your choice using their secure online checkout system.
  • They send out the gift to you or the recipient of your present.
  • A tree or a group of trees is planted in an area of a U.S. Forest that’s been damaged by fire.
  • Information about where the tree is located and photos of it are posted online.
  • The recipient of your gift can go online and learn about the tree. They can even use a map to find it and plan a trip to visit it!

In the age of simplicity, I think Trees for Change is a meaningful gift for both receiver and giver.  I certainly know I’ll be supporting this great mission with a tree to honor loved ones in my life.

Happy Earth Day!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  



Nature Deficit Disorder and Nursing Home Residents

April 22 is Earth Day. A perfect time to reflect on how nursing home residents may suffer nature deficit disorder. Our world has become increasingly high-tech, consequently our connection to nature has diminished. I’ve often heard this associated with our kids but I see it in senior care, too.

Author Richard Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” in his popular book, Last Child in the Woods. Children experience anxiety, depression and poor attention span when they don’t spend time outdoors.

Training senior caregivers takes me to nursing homes all around the country. It’s striking how little exposure long-stay resident have to nature. The kind that gets us dirty and we get our feet and hands in soil, water, leaves. Sounds of wild birds and wind.

Nature pre-schools create playgrounds out of logs, sand, ponds, trees, rather than playground equipment made from metal and plastic. I visited one in Michigan and it warmed my heart to see kids outdoors playing like I remember doing. Running and getting all sweaty and making mud pies! I believe we are hard-wired as humans to be connected to nature. It feeds our souls, no matter if we are 10 or 100.

In elders, nature can promote  physical, mental, and social health of older adults. One study points out “that their roots, identity and good memories were closely linked to … a life lived in nature and the outdoor environment.”

Above all, anytime we have a chance to share nature with an elder, let’s do it.  We’ll all be better for it!

Share an experience of connecting an elder with nature.

Ann Catlin is a team member of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.

Are Robotic Pets the Next Big Thing in Dementia Care?

Pet therapy is well-known for comforting people with dementia. Snuggling a four-legged friend brings on a smile, soothes anxiety and encourages physical activity. People connect to memories of their own beloved pets. Can a robotic pet replace the real thing?

An NBC news article says robotic pets may be the next big thing in dementia care. I’m a baby-boomer who didn’t grow up with all the technology we have now. At first I bristled at the idea of robots taking the place of real animals. Or humans  for that matter.

But after exploring a little further, I realize it’s no-one’s intent to replace human care.  Known collectively as Socially Assistive Robots (SAR), it seems like there are actually some pretty exciting possibilities!

Robotic pets take on the look and feel of the real thing. while they move, respond to touch, and make sounds. Cats purr and turn over for a belly rub. Dogs bark, snuggle and wag their tails. Examples on the market include Ageless Innovation’s Companion Pets and PARO, a baby harp seal.

A Growing Field:
Research of therapeutic and assistance robots has emerged in the last decade. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are on the rise world-wide. With it comes greater need for creative approaches to ease  behavioral reactions so common in people living with dementia.  Consequently, robotic pets may well be a valuable tool for caregivers.

In conclusion, do you have experience with robotic pets? What do you think of the idea?

Ann Catlin, OTR, LMT serves as a consultant with AGE-u-cate  Training  Institute. For 25 years she has helped caregivers  rediscover compassionate touch in person centered dementia care.

Rural Healthcare: Helping Caregivers and Persons Living with Dementia

Access to quality rural healthcare, resources, education, and support is a growing challenge in the US and around the globe.  What does this mean for the growing numbers of persons living with dementia and their families who are caring for them?  How does this affect the quality of care being offered by nursing homes and other care providers?

There are no easy solutions as options are dwindling for many rural communities.  Closures of hospitals mean less health care professionals to diagnose Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Community education for families, often a service offered by hospitals and clinics, is then not available.  When the infrastructure of healthcare, private providers and community-based services is compromised, access to much-needed support dwindles quickly.

I recently had the honor to work with the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy who collaborates with the Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health, both in Ontario Canada.  The University will be training its pharmacy students using our Dementia Live® and Compassionate Touch® programs and beyond that, they are will be working with Gateway to reach rural communities with desperately needed dementia education and training for families and professionals.

Reaching the indigenous people of the province will be part of this project.  In the 2016 census, the indigenous or Aboriginal peoples in Canada totaled 1,673,785 people or 4.9% of the national population.   Many of the indigenous peoples live in rural areas where access to services is limited.   Bringing dementia awareness and education to rural areas will help to spur collaboration amongst various organizations who need to work together to serve their aging populations and families.

Limited access to rural healthcare is a growing initiative in the US and other countries as the aging population swells.  Because family caregivers make up the vast majority of those caring for persons with dementia, providing quality training, support and access to resources is a top initiative for healthcare, long term care services providers and community-based organizations in urban areas who can collaborate with local services, faith communities and others who have a direct reach to many of the families who are struggling.

Finding local champions who see the value of collaboration, education and support services is ultimately the best measure of success, as the communities themselves embrace the challenges and solutions for their aging communities and the unique needs of persons living with dementia and their families.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  


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