Category Archives: Dementia Live

‘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

The Important Role that Money plays in Caregiving Decisions

It’s no secret that families tend to shy away from the topics of money and death more often than not.  The fact, however, is that caregiving decisions often revolve around money, as care options will vary greatly depending on one’s assets.  So money plays a very important role in the choices that are made and discussions that take place between family members.

Understanding generational differences with respect to money can help today’s caregivers.  Like my own parents who were raised during the Depression,  money for our oldest generation was to be saved.  Before the era of mass production of goods, this generation did not waste, valued “things” in terms of their quality and how long they would last.   Older generations did not accumulate debt but rather watched their nest egg grow through hard work and perseverance.  One of their goals is the ability to leave an inheritance for their children.   In turn, adult children have expected this nest egg, rightfully or not.  And this is when conflict arises when families are faced with decisions on parent’s long-term care.

Too often, parents are reluctant to talk with their children about their financial situation.  My advice was always to give their children the gift of talking about it BEFORE  needs arose for decisions to be made that may conflict with theirs.  So plan A is always for families to approach this difficult topic earlier than later.

Try to start the conversation with a what-if scenario.  “Mom, we want to make sure that decisions regarding care are ones that you had envisioned.   We never know what to expect, but what if you fell and broke your hip and this required you to have ongoing care.  Can we talk about what this might entail and what you would want as next steps?”

Or another conversation starter might look like this:  “Dad, you have always been such a wonderful provider and keep such great care of your finances;  I know everything is fine now, but what if something happened to you?  Can we talk about how you would like help with paying bills?”

Children and other family members need to be respectful of the money issue, understanding that when one gives up oversight of their finances, even if it’s perceived as such, it’s a huge step in losing independence.  Tread these waters gently, approach with a sincere heart and understand that an initial response from others may be to pull back.  If that’s the case, then give it time, and reapproach maybe at a different time and with another family member present.

Put yourselves in the place of that person before approaching, and ask how you would like to hear the words of the person talking about the difficult money topic.

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

Preparing Future Generations for an Aging World

Aging isn’t just for old people – we are all connected. As the world ages at break-neck speed, how well are we preparing future generations to live in an aging world?  Are we treating the very young and very old in our society as bookends simply in place to hold our “middle” years in place?

These are certainly global questions with no easy answers, but for those of us in the aging sphere,  these questions merit deep contemplation.

Researchers have studied the most successful aging societies and found that those who intentionally focus on intergenerational unification are the healthiest.   Certainly, the core of preparing future generations for an aging world must encompass the notion that in order to connect with an aging person, we must first understand them.

What can we do to facilitate understanding and reduce ageism for future generations?  We must educate younger generations.  What happens as we grow old?  Aging changes our senses, our physical abilities, and appearance.  What is most disturbing to young people,  and often what they fear most, are when old people no longer have their cognitive capacities intact.  Because they don’t understand what is happening, their first reaction is often fight or flight.

We are all connected – not just as families, but as neighbors, faith communities, co-workers, and social circles.  As we age, those circles tend to get smaller, and far too often that excludes other generations, and instead of bridging the gap, it widens.  We rob our young people of experiencing the wisdom and love that older generations provide, and we rob our older generation of the joy and playfulness of youth.  No one wins and society becomes increasingly segregated, thus the bookend analogy.

We have opportunities to intentionally change this trajectory by lessening fear,  creating mission-based intergenerational opportunities and allowing young people to experience what it’s like to age, so they gain an early understanding that aging is a part of life.

I love Rosalyn Carter’s quote…”There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”  If we embrace the reality of our aging world in this perspective, does it not make sense to begin early with our children to embrace the journey of aging without fear but with understanding and care?

Let’s do more to bring intergenerational aging education to our communities.  With it, we will all be better citizens and will create a world where bookends don’t exist.

Pam Brandon is President and 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 Dementia Live® program, helping thousands around the world to better understand sensory change and cognitive impairment.

Creating Neighborhoods for Life – What Research Tells Us

The number of older people is rising dramatically, particularly those in the 85 years and above age group.  Because the likelihood of developing dementia increases with age, reaching a one in 3 chance by the time a person reaches 85, we must turn our attention to eldercare, age-friendly initiatives to be that of dementia-friendly initiatives.  Let’s look at what research tells us about how our neighborhoods can be transformed to age-friendly, dementia-friendly places for people to live as they grow older.

The Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments Research Unit of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development in the UK concluded a three-year research project, examining how the outside environment could be more dementia-friendly.  These findings are enabling designers to consider criteria in developing dementia-friendly neighborhoods, whether that is in urban, suburban or rural areas.

Summary of their key findings include:

  • Older people with dementia, particularly in mild to moderate stages, continue to go out alone, many times daily.
  • Older people with dementia tend to limit their outside activities to relatively undemanding situations, such as going to the corner shop, posting a letter or going for a walk.
  • Older people with dementia tend to use cars or public transport only when accompanied by others os that independent outside activity is restricted to the immediate neighborhood within walking distance of home.
  • Although the interaction of older people with dementia with the outdoor environment is limited, it is clear that it provides some sense of independence and self-respect at a time when they are losing control over their own abilities and lives.
  • Older people with dementia generally enjoy going out but anxiety, disorientation or confusion can occur in complex, crowded or heavily trafficked places or when startled by sudden loud noises.
  • Older people with dementia tend to be less aware of physical and social dangers in the outdoor environment and of the possibility of losing the way than older people without dementia.
  • Older people with dementia cannot always interpret the cues that signal the use of buildings, the location of entrances or the behavior that is expected in different places.
  • Older people with dementia continue to plan and visualize proposed routes and tend to use landmarks and other visual cues rather than maps and written directions as wayfinding techniques.
  • Older people with dementia tend to prefer mixed-use, compact local neighborhoods, quiet pedestrian streets and welcoming open spaces, simple explicit signs with large, dark, unambiguous graphics on a light background.
  • Older people with dementia prefer smooth, plain, non-slip, non-reflective paving and easy to use street furniture in styles familiar to older people.

These guidelines provide us with valuable insight in creating neighborhoods of the future.  As the dementia-friendly initiatives sweep our country, it is important that leaders gain the education and knowledge about dementia and how we might best work collaboratively to allow as much safe independence for our older adults as possible.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  She is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® Program, enabling those who care for and serve older adults to gain a first-hand understanding of living with dementia.