Category Archives: Dementia Live

How Do You Score in Empowering Your Caregivers?

From the conversations I have every single day with our partners, I’m guessing most of you would give yourselves an adequate score at best.  And perhaps this is on a good day.  “Empowering Your Caregivers” – some of you might just be asking what exactly I mean by empowering caregivers.

Our old friend, Merriam-Webster says that Empower is to promote the self-actualization or influence of or to enable.  An example: the women’s movement has been inspiring and empowering women.  

What makes the challenge so difficult when we talk about empowering our caregivers, especially those who are serving persons living with dementia?  This is where it gets fuzzy, right?  We have massive numbers of persons living dementia and not enough caregivers to go around, so those that are doing so by and large are stretched – to the max.  And like all professions, when demand outweighs supply,  people look for other jobs if they are not satisfied.  Thus the reason for a very high level of turnover among caregivers, especially those who care for persons with dementia.

Certainly, there are other factors that are equally as important such as pay, benefits and the stress that comes with caring for another person with cognitive decline.

Why then, are some providers able to outperform others when it comes to staff turnover, more satisfied employees AND happier residents, clients or patients?  They are as vulnerable as anyone else is to staffing shortages, wage and benefit offerings and the job itself is just as challenging no matter where one works.  Right?

Maybe that’s not always true.  My discussions consistently come down to the winners in this game invest in their caregivers.  They invest their resources, time and attention in Empowering their Caregivers.  The winners stand out with simple but strongly held core beliefs:  that caregivers MUST be:

  • Educated
  • Have the Tools with which to do their job well
  • Listened to
  • Rewarded

It’s funny, that when someone is educated or trained to do their job well, they then have the tools available.  If they are listened to, they feel a part of the team, and low and behold, when they are rewarded, they feel like what they do everyday matters.

And what our caregivers do every day DOES matter – it matters to your resident, to their families, to the culture of your business and ultimately it matters in how others view who you are as a provider of services.

Let’s not underestimate the power of empowering your caregivers.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and the creator of the Dementia Live® Sensitivity Awareness Training Program.  She is a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  

The Transformative Power of Music in Ageing Care

By Sue Silcox, AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, Australia

Does anyone remember the banning of public music in Iran? Back in 1979 Ayatollah Rubollah Khomeini banned all music from radio and television in Iran. He likened it to opium and said it “stupefies persons listening to it and makes their brain inactive and frivolous.” (New York Times, 1979).

I remember it happening and being horrified by the ban. Every culture has music and it has always been such a blessing for me. From the first music I heard my parents play, the first record I ever bought (Cathy’s Clown, The Everly Brothers) to using Spotify now when I take Ageless Grace® classes locally, I am thankful for what it brings me.

How amazing that a study in 2001 from Leicester University, UK, found that babies recognise the music they heard in the womb even twelve months later. In this study, mothers played a single piece of music repeatedly during the third trimester. A year after birth, the infants recognised and turned towards that sound, preferring it to a similar sounding piece of music, even though they had not heard the music in the interim. Music certainly has power!

I’m one of the first baby boomers so I’ve had the pleasure of listening and moving through music styles such as pop, rock and roll, country music and jive, twist just for a start. I also have the remembrance of swing and big band as my parents would dance together or get us to dance with them. Many a tune brings a memory of the old HMV turntable my aunt had. She would play her favourite artist, in particular Nat King Cole and I wonder how many of my preferences have been influenced by those early sounds.

For me, to be without music as I age would be like living in the dark ages. Although I like to move my body to contemporary music I also find myself emotionally transported as I listen to music I love. A 2017 study found that physical exercise done to music showed greater increase in cognitive function than just exercise alone, and may be of benefit in delaying age-related cognitive decline. It also makes changes to the brain structure. My love and use of music and exercise seems to be validated! Music should be also be considered a drug therapy, providing benefits linked to reward, motivation and pleasure. (Howland, R. H, 2016).

In Australia the Arts Health Institute brought a music and memory program to aged care, now overtaken by the music enrichment program, “Music Remembers Me” in aged care. Perhaps we also need to encourage movement during the music enrichment program.

Whether music is enjoyed on its own or shared, it can be an intensely special time for the listener. Now it seems the joy of the music can provide considerable benefit to our ageing and dementia communities.

Sue Silcox leads AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, Australia and is a Certified Master Trainer for Dementia Live®, Compassionate Touch®, and other AGE-u-cate programs.  She lives in Brisbane, Queensland.   She may be contacted at sue.silcox@ageucate.com

References:

Kifner, J. 1979. Khomeini Bans Broadcast Music, Saying It Corrupts Iranian Youth. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1979/07/24/archives/khomeini-bans-broadcast-music-saying-it-corrupts-iranian-youth.html

BBC News, July 2011. Babies remember womb music. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1432495.stm

Ken-ichi et al. (2017). Physical Exercise with Music Reduces Gray and White Matter Loss in the Frontal Cortex of Elderly People: The Mihama-Kiho Scan Project. Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience, Vol 9 (2017), doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00174/full

Howland, R. H. (2016). Hey Mister Tambourine Man, Play a Drug for Me. Journal Of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services54(12), 23-27. doi:10.3928/02793695-20161208-05

 

 

Communication Skills Training Improves Dementia Care

Caring for people with dementia requires specialized communication skills training.  Unfortunately, healthcare professionals and family caregivers often receive little training to enable them to meet the communicative needs of people with dementia.

Research has shown that communication skills training in dementia care significantly improves the quality of life and well being of people with dementia and increases positive interactions in various care settings. Communication skills training shows significant impact on professional and family caregivers’ communication skills, competencies, and knowledge.

As we look at the look at the vast growth taking place across the spectrum of those serving older adults,  in addition to the health and long-term care fields.  Communication skills training is being implemented by EMS professionals, Social Work, Case Management, Chaplains and Volunteer workers and to the broader community of those serving older adults in a wide variety of capacities.  Financial advisors, insurance personnel, retail, and banking are all seeing a rising need for communication skills training to better serve their older adult customer base that often is living with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Key qualities for those directly serving the elderly and aging populations are

1. communication skills

2. compassion

3. physical stamina.

With the growing demand for in-home care services, home health aides and certified nursing assistants (CNAs),  communications skills training is more important than ever so they are well prepared to care for the high percentage of people living with dementia.  These are high demand professions and one of the fastest growing occupations projected.  Already, in many areas of the US and around the world, shortages and the consequences of these staffing challenges are affecting the quality of care.

Quality communication skills training, starting with awareness and empathy training will better prepare our health care teams, retailers,  legal and financial advisors, faith communities and first responders to face the already ballooning numbers of aging adults who deserve better care and certainly more respect here and around the globe.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Pam is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® awareness and simulation training program.  

http://www.AGEucate.com

 

‘Samen Dementievriendelijk’ teaches people to recognize and help people with dementia

I thought this intriguing blog post title would spark some interest, as I’m writing this while on a European trip that will be concluding in Amsterdam.  Samen Dementievriendelijk is the Netherland’s Dementia Delta Plan, which aims to create dementia-friendly communities by teaching people to recognize and help people living with dementia.

‘Samen dementievriendelijk’, inspired by earlier foreign dementia projects, is an initiative that will help their society to learn more about dementia and the ways one can help people with dementia and their carers. Within this program not only the public is trained to become a ‘dementiafriend’ by registering on a special website. They will be invited to do an online course where they learn to identify common dementia-related behaviors and their causes, and how to respond to them. But also a brought range of companies are addressed to become dementia friendly in their products and services. Nationwide companies like supermarkets, bus and taxi companies, banks, insurers but also local retailers and many municipalities participate in this program.

The cooperative Deltaplan for Dementia is the Dutch national platform to address and manage the growing problem of dementia. Together with their member organizations in the field of science, research, healthcare institutions, patient organization, healthcare insurance, education and business, they aim for better lives for people with dementia and their families and to create a barrier against the effects of dementia.

Deriving its name from the Dutch waterworks that protects a large area of land from the sea, Deltaplan dementia works closely together with private and public members based on three important pillars; research, healthcare/support, and a dementia-friendly society.

Next,  their national strategy Deltaplan Dementia aims to focus on international collaboration. They strongly believe in international collaboration to tackle this worldwide challenge and growing problem.

Deltaplan Dementia:

  • is an eight-year program which began in 2013
  • includes dementia research and innovation programs and  currently has over hundred different research projects
  • aims to focus on Improvement of Health Care to ensure that patients of today can continue to live at home as long as possible, supported by appropriate professional and informal care
  • also aims to stimulate a society that is more dementia friendly

Like Dementia Friendly America, initiatives like these are spreading throughout the world, giving tremendous hope for widespread quality of life improvements in those living with dementia and those who care for them.

I’m going to work really hard at the proper pronunciation of Samen dementievriendelijk’, and look forward to sharing more about what Europe is doing in this arena.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Insitute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  She is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® Simulation Program,  transforming how people understand and respond to persons living with cognitive impairments.  You may read more about this program at http://www.AGEucate.com

https://deltaplandementie.nl/en