Category Archives: Dementia Live

Creating Collages with Elders Living with Dementia

IMG_9448Our guest blogger is AGE-u-cate Master Trainer, Sue Wilson, LMSW, CADDCT, CDP  –  360 Elder Solutions (www.360eldersolutions.com)

In this article you’ll learn how to use collage making as a creative means to engage with your loved one living with dementia and enable their voice. You do not have to be an artist to enjoy the benefits of collage making. Making a collage involves choosing images, shapes, and ‘bits and pieces’, then arranging them, and gluing them onto a surface. Collages can be wildly complicated, beautifully simple, or anywhere in between. It’s the opportunities to make choices, express preferences and feelings, and create that empowers an individual and give them voice. Over time, brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s and other dementias diminish language abilities making it progressively harder to engage with others. It becomes more difficult to understand the spoken words of others and to verbally express personal preferences, needs, thoughts and feelings. Losing the ability to effectively communicate can cause frustration and isolation and lead to anger, loneliness and boredom. Art provides a positive and meaningful way to communicate when words are not readily available. Supplies Gather an assortment of meaningful items that communicate your loved one’s current and past interests and preferences. Collages can be made from just about anything and do not require a trip to the craft store. Step outside, into your garage, or look in your “everything” drawer! Gather items that are appealing and will help tell a story. Such as:

• Photos of family members, a favorite car, images and items related to past military service, employment and hobbies, school days, honors earned, celebrations, a favorite pet are elements of life stories for reminiscing and person-­‐centered care.

• For gardeners and nature buffs, gather fresh or dried leaves, dirt, seeds and blossoms to add life and texture to collages. Collect colorful and interesting treasures on a nature walk.

• Gather old magazines, color tissue paper, ribbons, fabric scraps and even old ties, large buttons, construction paper, crayons, and markers from around the house. Or, if needed pick some up at the grocery store.

• Sprinkle a few drops of vanilla, lavender, peppermint, or citrus essential oils on the fabric squares to engage the sense of smell. Apply favorite spices, perfumes or colognes.

  • Have glue sticks for paper, or glues for fabric or wood items.

• Stray puzzle pieces, scrabble letters, dominoes, playing cards and other game pieces.

• Poster board and construction paper work well as surfaces for paper collages, but use a sturdier surface when incorporating embellishments.

• Grow and vary collage supplies to meet and engage changing abilities, interest and preferences.

Set up

• Minimize distractions.

• Decide what you are going to glue the collage onto.

• Set out a variety of papers, images, bits and pieces and see what sparks interest. What is of interest today may not be interesting tomorrow.

• Items can be grouped into themes and placed in separate baskets and brought out on different occasions.

• Help get things started with positive comments and simple instructions. It can be difficult for individuals in later stages of dementia to get started so start by sifting through images and pieces, ask for help in selecting items and with arranging them onto the surface.

• Wait for a response and create the opportunity for reminiscence.

• As time goes on, an individual living with dementia is more apt to recognize faces and places from young adulthood, teenage years, and early childhood, which trigger early emotional thoughts and feelings.

• Images can be torn or cut from magazines and catalogues, same with strips or shapes of paper. Photocopies work as well as original photos.

• The possibilities are endless.

Do:

• Relax. It is as important for you to lay down sweet memories of your loved one now as it is for them to have your presence and company in the now.

• Pay attention to what sparks interest.

• Reminisce enjoyable moments and give compliments when looking at photos and images. For example: o How handsome or beautiful they look in a particular photo. o How proud you are of them for the award they received. o How well they played golf or when they got a hole in one. o Describe the smell and taste of the amazing chocolate cake they made – say something like “I think that was your mother’s recipe.”  How fun and exciting it was when you were out on the lake and they caught that giant trout. o Your compliments will help them enjoy their feelings associated with images, textures or scents.

• Pay attention to when your loved one starts tiring.

• Keep supplies handy and growing so art becomes a regular part of your rhythm and routine.

• Make note of items most enjoyed, changing abilities and moods.

• Display collages and share as gifts. These will become lasting treasures.

Don’t

  • Overwhelm with too many choices.
  •  Hurry the process or take over. It is all about the process and not the product. • Ask your loved one if they remember the name of a particular person or place.
  • Put your loved one on the spot by reminding them of what they do not remember.
  • For more ideas of using creative expression and art to engage your loved one in meaningful activities, contact Sue S. Wilson, LMSW, CADDCT, CDP at sue@360eldersolutions.com and visit her website at www.360eldersolutions.com.

www.AGEucate.com

Adventures in Senior Care…An Industry on the Move

AdventureI’m always energized after attending and speaking at conferences.  Learning about creative programming, new technologies being developed and how we are preparing for the next wave of seniors makes me even more excited about our future as a training and education provider.   To be in the senior care industry today means adventure at every corner!

Like life itself, it is the journey that counts.  While industry analysts try to predict future trends, we all know that there will be surprises along the way.  I often relate caregiving for older adults, especially those with chronic illness – to riding a roller coaster.  Up one minute, and down the next with twists and turns along the way.

These incredible highs and lows are experiences that leaves you forever changed.  Leaders, entrepreneurs, clinicians, academicians and seniors dealing with aging issues, like dementia or other chronic illnesses themselves are collaborating to make a better world for us all.  The fact is our society is aging quickly.  How we age and care for others in the years ahead is up to us.

Adventures don’t come without risks.  Entrepreneur Tony Robbin’s quote is a reminder that with every new opportunity, there will most likely be some difficulties along the way – “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right.”

Dynamic products and programs like Eversound, Eldergrow®, SingFit™️ and Ageless Grace® are just a few that come to mind that are stretching the limits of possibilities for seniors to live fully.   Embracing creativity and boldness,  these companies are successfully transforming the growing numbers of professional and family caregivers who can also see their lives enriched along with their care partners.

It’s an incredible time to be in Senior Care!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  A caregiver advocate, speaker, trainer and facilitator, Pam is passionate about embracing positive change in senior care through quality training and education.  

www.AGEucate.com, www.eversoundhq.com,www.eldergrow.org, www.singfit.com

The Driving Dilemma – Why It is Everyone’s Business

Senior Citizen Woman Driving in Profile

According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, seniors age 80 and older have the highest rate of fatal crashes per mile driven – even high than for teens.  As our aging population rapidly increases, the driving dilemma is most certainly everyone’s business and a problem that must be addressed at many levels.

Vision problems, slower reactions and other effects of aging increase the risk of crashes. But most state legislatures ignore the problem.   Only 19 states make seniors renew their licenses more often than younger drivers. Half of those states cut eight- to ten-year renewal periods down to four to six years.

Driving represents independence and freedom, in addition to providing mobility, and politicians aren’t eager to take on seniors by making driver’s-license renewals more stringent.  But state lawmakers largely sidestep the issue, so it’s up to families to take action when a loved one is no longer a safe driver.

Easier said than done.  Families who have dealt with the driving dilemma of a spouse, parent or friend can attest to the battle that is likely to embroil when the topic of car keys ensues.

It is everyone’s business that we address these issues today. Lawmakers,  healthcare professionals, EMTs and families must work together in better assessment standards to determine functional ability of an older person to drive safely.   We need more education  when it comes to guidelines and helping everyone who has a stake in determining if an older adult is physically and mentally competent to get behind the wheel.

Studies have shown that the driver with dementia is at increased risk to cause traffic accidents.  In one study, there was a  47% prevalence rate of crashes among 30 persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) compared to 10% of 20 age-matched controls in a retrospective survey over 5 years.  Overall, there is probably a 2- to 8-fold greater risk of crashes for elderly drivers with mild to moderate dementia compared to those not demented.

Lawmakers need more stringent testing for older adults, Law Enforcement and EMTs need training to quickly assess the presence of cognitive impairment and families need education on how to communicate with their loved ones about this sensitive issue.  Too often, families are not knowledgeable themselves of what to look for  in terms of driving incompetencies and they too lack assessment tools.

“If you see something say something”.  The general public needs to be made aware of the risks of older drivers.  Like airport security reminders, we should be regularly reminding the public to call in unsafe drivers so law enforcement can take appropriate action. before it’s too late.

Aging education and training, especially in the area of dementia, are in high demand.  Stakeholders have only so much bandwidth to provide the training that is needed across the spectrum.  The challenges escalate every day, and until we work together in getting this training to the hands of professionals, families and lawmakers our dilemmas will escalate as fast as our aging population.

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.  Aging advocate, speaker and trainer, Pam is passionate about helping families and professionals create transformative change in how they care for older adults.  

Increased Risks for Hospital Patients with Dementia

Medical Team Working On Patient In Emergency Room

About one fourth of older hospital patients have dementia.  These patients are at an outstandingly higher risk than other patients for:

  • Delirium
  • Falls
  • Dehydration
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Untreated Pain
  • Medication-related problems
  • Wandering
  • Agitated behavior

Because to the stress caused by acute illness and being in an unfamiliar setting, some older patients show signs of dementia for the first time in a hospital.

Delirium is a  disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of your environment. The start of delirium is usually rapid — within hours or a few days.

Delirium can often be traced to one or more contributing factors, such as a severe or chronic medical illness, changes in metabolic balance (such as low sodium), medication, infection, surgery, or alcohol or drug withdrawal.

Dementia is the leading risk factor for delirium.  Patients with dementia are actually three to five times more likely than older adult patients to develop delirium in the hospital and two-thirds of delirium in hospitals occurs in patients with dementia.

These high risk adverse health events are rising at alarming rates as our aging population increases rapidly and hospitals are seeing more patients with dementia symptoms.

According to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia should be considered a possibility in every hospital patient age 75 and over and can be present in younger patients as well.  People with dementia usually come into a hospital for treatment of their other medical conditions, although some come in because of complications of their dementia.  Of older people with dementia, 30% also have coronary artery disease; 28% congestive heart failure; 21% diabetes and 17% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Doctors at Lutheran Medical Center in Denver, who serve the biggest senior population in the metro area, have made changes to help their older patients avoid the delirium diagnosis if they have no choice but to go the hospital.

They’ve essentially taken their traditional 42,000-square-foot emergency room and cut it in half, leaving one side equipped as a traditional ER, and turning the other half into a “Senior ER.”

A big key is preventing the all-too-common side-effects of delirium. See a special ER for seniors, equipped with dozens of brilliant features, that speed comfort and care to this population.

http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2017/05/emergency-room-paradise-heals-dementias.html

Bridging technology, smart design features, reduced noise and training staff to better communicate with patients and families, more hospitals will transition to dementia friendly healthcare communities.   The “frightening” hospital experience for the growing population living with dementia may just be a thing of the past in a few years.

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.   Their mission is developing and delivering cutting edge dementia education and training for health and long term care providers and others.  #DementiaLive #CompassionateTouch