Tag Archives: AGE-u-cate Training Institute

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

How Dementia Friendly Communities Can Change Our Attitudes

cityscapeDementia is everyone’s business.  After decades of being relegated to an issue of institutionalism,  the idea that people living with dementia can have a quality of life is a huge step in furthering education, awareness and acceptance for  millions of Americans that are affected by dementia.  The Dementia Friendly Community movement is making great strides in bringing opportunities to change attitudes, actions and our thinking.

People living with dementia and their families should have access to community services such as grocery stores, retail shops, banks, recreation centers and their faith communities without the fear of embarrassment or isolation.  For those who are living alone, we must make services accessible so that they can continue to enjoy a quality of life that is not only safe but engages them with others.

While the “dementia friendly” concept is by all accounts, in its baby steps across most parts of the world, it is nonetheless capturing the attention of policy makers, businesses and consumers.

Allowing people with dementia to live independently for as long as possible means that as a society we must reduce the stigma of dementia and improve how we are educating all levels of society.  This means the check-out person at the local grocery store, pharmacy assistant and bank teller all need to understand how to better communicate and respond to people who are living with cognitive impairment.

The World Alzheimer Report 2015:  The Global Impact of Dementia estimates that there are currently 46.8 million people living with dementia around the world with numbers set to increase to 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050.  There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, which breaks down to one new case every 3 seconds.

The Dementia Friendly Community objectives go beyond seeking safety and well-being for those living with dementia, but empower all members of a community to celebrate the capabilities and honor them as valuable members of the villages, towns and cities where they reside.

Dementia educators and advocates are greatly needed to help people understand dementia and even more, how to better to communicate, respond to their needs and support their families.   It offers communities the ability to take place in making real changes and encourages conversations about what needs to be done locally, nationally and globally to change our attitudes, actions and thinking about dementia.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.  Their growing network of Master Trainers provides cutting edge aging and dementia education for long term care providers, hospitals, non-profits, higher education and the business community.  

www.AGEucate.com

Why Elder Abuse is a Public Health Crisis and Growing Worse

Elder Abuse is a serious problem that needs more attention from lawmakers, public agencies, senior care providers, faith communities and the general public.

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that between one and two million elderly adults have suffered some form of elder abuse.  The main types are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect and self-neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation.

Elders with dementia are thought to be at greater risk of abuse and neglect than those of the general population.  In one study, 20% of caregivers expressed fears that they would become violent with the people for whom they care for.  Some other alarming statistics:

  • 60% of caregivers have been verbally abusive with the person for whom they were providing care (Journal of Elder Abuse 2005)
  • Between 5 and 10% of caregivers reported that they were physically abusive toward the care recipients (Journal of American Geriatrics 2010)
  • 14% of caregivers reported that they were neglectful (Journal of American Geriatrics Society 2010)

Why the urgency to address this problem?   The number of people living with dementia is rapidly rising.  Families are trying desperately to cope with the emotional and physical stress that comes with caring for someone with dementia.  It’s frightening to care for someone you don’t understand.

We must do more to reach family caregivers, who currently account for the majority of elder caregiving in our country.  Caregivers are trying to juggle work, often raising children at the same time they are caring for elderly parents.   Elder spouses are often isolated and without the support of community services simply because they don’t have access to what might be available to them.

Caregiving can be a lonely, overwhelming and and often a hopeless journey.   Families need education and tools to help them cope with the uncertainties that arise when caring for someone with dementia.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th.  We are privileged to be collaborating with the Oregon Health Care Association to be sharing our innovative and cutting edge programs, Dementia Live™️ and Compassionate Touch® to family and professional caregivers on June 1st.   Caregivers desperately need a deeper understanding of dementia and practical tools to respond to behaviors.

We encourage everyone to step up in supporting our elders and caregivers and to stop the rise of elder abuse.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute whose mission is to provide cutting edge training and education which creates transformative change for an aging world.

www.AGEucate.com;

 www.OHCA.com