All posts by Pam Brandon

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.  

 

 

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.  

 

From Dementia Activities Round-up to Person-Centered Care Practices

Activities for Persons with dementiaI am humbled and honored to work with such amazing and talented people.  As a trainer, I believe we learn as much from those we are training as they learn from us.  We are all practicing when it comes to dementia care.  Every day is a new day and no matter where we fit into the spectrum, we all need each other to learn and grow.  Let’s talk about person-centered care practices.

Just today I had a conversation with one of our newest AGE-u-cate trainers, and she shared how wonderful it will be to have a new person-centered care tool to share with Activities Directors.  A tool that will provide meaning to a person living with dementia;  that will engage the other person and build a trusting relationship with the person who is caring for them.

Sadly, often activities for persons with dementia looks like the big round-up.  Bring the troops into the activities room in a big semi-circle, and have them either interact with each other with a game, listen to a singer, musician or another performer.   And 5 of the 25 people in the room will be engaged, while 20 are asleep, some slumped in their chairs.

We can and should do a better job of practicing person-centered care.  If only 20% of residents are engaged in an activity, then 80% are not receiving any benefits.  Let’s assess the time and energy it took to get residents to the activities room and ask if there might be a better use of care partner time.

One-on-one time can often be much more valuable for both care partners.  This might be looking through a photo album, playing music that is meaningful to that person and singing together or simply engaging in quiet time that leads to a break in the stress and noise and will benefit both care partners.

I don’t at all dismiss the importance of getting residents out of their rooms and attempting to engage with others and certainly enjoy appropriate entertainment.  What is important, however, is that this activity not be identified as a person-centered care practice.   Despite the challenges of staff time and mandated activities, if small bits of quality- time were interspersed throughout the day, I suspect it would provide much-needed respite for staff from the round-up routines and provide opportunities for them to engage with their care partners at a much deeper level.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Insitute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Pam, along with Ann Catlin, OT, LMT, created the Compassionate Touch® program to help improve the lives of persons living with dementia and end of life, transforming care for thousands of elder adults in assisted living, nursing homes, hospitals, and being care for in their homes.

 

Careers in Aging – Proactive Approaches to the Looming Crisis

March 3 -7 is Careers in Aging Week and an appropriate time to talk about the importance of this topic.  No longer are the shortages of direct care staff and others in long term care a subject of the future.  The crisis is looming and it is serious.

The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to grow to 98 million by 2060, more than double the number we had in 2016.  According to the Population Reference Bureau, between 2020 – 2030, the number of older adults in America will grow by 18 million as the youngest baby boomers hit 65.

Like me, the baby boomers that are marching forward are asking ourselves, “Who will take care of me?”  While families have and will be forced to take on the caregiving tasks for their loved ones, it simply is not the answer or reality for many Americans.   Boomers and GenXers are working,  families are not geographically close enough to take on the role of primary caregivers, the numbers of widows and widowers are growing and many elderly are childless.

According to Government statisticians, home care is one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, with an additional million workers needed by 2026!  That is an increase of 50% from 2014.

Without pouring through any more statistics,  growing careers in aging is no longer an option – it must become a priority that starts with our government leaders and is embraced by stakeholders across the spectrum.  It is not a US-only challenge – it is a worldwide crisis that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

Work in long term care, especially direct care workforce has long been associated with low wages, often inconsistent work schedules, limited company benefits, and poor training.  The economic boom has pulled workers from long term care into retail, restaurants, hospitality and other similar businesses that are paying higher wages.  It’s been a catch-22 but the fact that the shortages are colliding with an unprecedented demand is especially frightening.

Without pouring through any more statistics,  growing careers in aging must be a priority that starts with our government leaders and is embraced by stakeholders across the spectrum.  It is not a US-only challenge – it is a worldwide crisis that must be addressed sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, advocacy and lobbying take many years, of which we simply do not have time to wait.

What are the solutions?   There are not any easy ones, but perhaps looking at what we can do locally to turn the tide is going to result in positive outcomes.  We see our partner providers taking our Dementia Live® training to nursing schools, high school students and even out into communities who are embracing Age-Friendly and Dementia Friendly initiatives.  Raising awareness of the growing elderly population and their needs is huge.  Intergeneration programs among schools and churches and the elderly are setting an early example with children that respecting and taking care of our older adults is our duty.

Building awareness is a grass-roots effort and home-grown.  It means take creative efforts to work with others that include public entities, community-based organizations, political leaders and the private sector.  It means elevating the professional standards for those who choose careers in aging.   Careers in Aging is a field that is extremely rewarding.  We can do a better job of conveying this to our younger generation, and even an older generation who is looking to keep working and giving back.   What better way is there to give back than to serve others.

I’d like to hear what you are doing to bring awareness and educate others in your community!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  You may reach out to Pam at pam@ageucate.com.