Tag Archives: dementia

Let’s Tell it Like it Is… A Public Health Crisis is Upon Us

What Public Health Crisis?   Maybe these statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association will remind us, not of what’s coming but what is upon us:

Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds. Today, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 200,000 under the age of 65. One in nine people over 65 have Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia

The Baby Boom Generation is on track to become Generation Alzheimer’s, as more than 28 million members are expected to develop the disease. Barring a treatment or breakthrough, millions of retired Americans will either have the disease or end up caring for someone who does.

Alzheimer’s is America’s most expensive disease, costing the country $236 billion a year. There are 15 million Americans who care for a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Family caregivers on average spend more than $5,000 a year of their own money caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

What’s my point for reiterating these grim statistics?  Because leaders need to be accelerating and prioritizing quality dementia training for their clinicians, care staff, students, social workers, volunteers, physicians and anyone who works with the aging population.  Elder care is fast becoming about dementia care.

Quality dementia training does not sit on shelves catching dust.  Instead it should be:

  • Innovative
  • Practical
  • Feasible

It should provide tools that can be implemented that will result in improved outcomes for those who live in, work and visit your organization.  And lastly it should come with a strong support component so that your training is sustainable.

Time for leaders to look outside the box, because much of what has been IN the box has not been working.  We’re excited to be a part of finding solutions for the challenges now and in the years to come.



Vitality, Joy and Celebrating the Excitement of Living

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 10.42.29 AMHow do you create a senior care community that truly enhances the lives of their residents?  By doing the right things for the right reasons.  Vitality, joy and celebrating the excitement of living was exactly what I felt from the time I entered the doors of Cherrywood Village Retirement Community in Portland, OR last week.

Never underestimate the value of a first impression.  As I drove up to the Village Center, around the 18 hole putting green and the  beautifully landscaped walking paths, I was looking forward with anticipation to what was inside.

A Village Center it was… with happy people visiting in the village cafe, some just wrapping up their daily work-out in the fitness center,  visiting and (I’m guessing) planning the rest of their day.  Would it be a trip to the in house movie theater, soda shop, art studio, enjoying some quiet time in the library or getting ready for the Irish dancers who would be performing that evening?

Vitality = Happy People

My first impression was that this was a happy place filled with happy people.  Residents mingled with staff as if they were family.   The Village Center was vibrant, inviting and a definitely a place that celebrated the excitement of living.

Vitality didn’t stop at the Village Center.  Their Parkview Memory Care is transformational.   The well designed “village concept” integrated a Snoezelen room, chapel, movie theater, always-open diner, and the absolutely awesome real 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook for residents to actually sit in and take care of in Wally’s Garage.    Imagine their residents actually getting to ride in this lovingly restored auto?  Residents were taking care of life like babies, fully engaging with attentive staff.  I can only imagine how overjoyed their families are to have their loved ones in such a vibrant community where, despite living with dementia, their mom, dad or spouse are still living a life of joy and purpose. That’s vitality!

While I was there, I learned more about the nationally recognized Generations community founded by Wendell White.  Mr. White grew up caring for the elderly, so his passion and vision for creating a place for seniors to live fully was learned at an early age. Now the White children are leading the organization in carrying out the vision their father has established.

Generations has an envious high employee longevity.  Their relationship-based management practices speaks volumes of their respect and investment in each and every employee, whom after talking with them, say “this is an incredible place to work.. they really value us.”

Here are Generations’ core values:

  • world class excellence for the residents and employees they serve
  • create environments that enhance lives
  • celebrate the excitement of living
  • excellence in the stewardship of our communities
  • honore the goals and missions of our campus partners

This company lives their values.  They do the right things for the right reasons for their residents, employees, and the communities  they serve.

Is it a winning model?  You bet it is!





You Know What They Say About the Weather…Wait Five Minutes

Dramatic Image of Scruffy Man Freezing in Cold Weather

At least that’s what they say here in Texas, when it’s 80 degrees one day, and hitting the freezing mark the same night.  We’ve barely had a winter to speak of this year, so my recent trip to experience the Boston blizzard was an adventure and a treat.  So what does the weather have to do with aging and dementia you ask?

Yikes –  I think it’s a great analogy!  Have you walked the floors of a Memory Care Community lately?  The sun is shining and people are happy.  But wait 5 minutes… maybe 5 seconds… and the weather  can all change.  The blizzard can move in quickly and chaos panic and disorder can soon be the order of the day.   Time for deep breathing and some quick meditation.    Person centered care… what’s that?!

I love the term  PERSON-CENTERED THINKING. That takes person-centered care to a whole new level.  To me, person-centered thinking implies that our first response, our actions, our thought process is focused on another’s well being.  When we have tools in our belt that allow us to respond to behavioral expression that look like rain, snow, blizzard or tornado – we’re ready.

Are we equipping our care partners in senior care with the right tools to weather the storms?  

I’m going to venture to guess that most of “us”, because we’re all in this together, could do a better job.  After all, there is always room to grow, right?  Innovation, creativity and the will to want to be better at what we do is a part of life.  We all want to be better equipped to weather the storms.

That blizzard that hit Boston a week ago was followed by a bright beautiful sunny day.  Everyone got back to work and life.   I was able to do what I had travelled there to do (training), flew home the next day….

…and the storm hit again!

For information on the University of Minnesota’s Person-Centered Thinking program:





True Story of Navigating our Confusing Healthcare Maze

Healthy lifestyle achievement concept with a labyrinth and a blue goal sign with health text isolated on white background.

Welcome to the world of healthcare! Having just moved to a state with a very large senior population, many of whom have mild to moderate dementia, my story of navigating the healthcare maze should make us all sit up and ask ourselves how our seniors, especially those with dementia, can traverse this insanity.   Here is my story:

First doctor visit in my new state and it goes like this…

Twenty minutes of exploring the parking deck for an open spot (that’s 14 rounds from bottom to top and back again).

I was told to arrive 30 minutes early, but they failed to mention 20 minutes would be spent dive bombing for a parking space, so I was already 10 minutes late.

Enter a large, noisy atrium with lines, people, phones ringing and chaos.  No directional signs of where to go first, so I inquired at the first desk (which looked like it might be information).

Sure enough, I was directed to a very long, Disney-like line (you know the ones that wrap for seemingly miles filled with anxious people).

Enter Desk 2, in which I gave them my name and doctor whom I was to see.  “Is this your first visit?” to which I responded “yes”.   And the reply “Do you see the pillar with the clock on it?”  Looking in the general area I finally find the 12″ clock on the wall.  “Go over there and fill out the paperwork and someone will come and get you.”

I was handed the clipboard, which had five 2 – sided sheets, 1 pen and 1 pencil.  I was to fill the forms out in ink but the questions with the bubbles I was told needed to be filled out in pencil.

I filled out 3 lines when the “concierge” came to greet me.  I told her I was not finished but she directs me to the office anyway.  So, I gather my “stuff” and settle in to her office while trying to complete my forms.  She then begins to ask for insurance card and drivers’ license as I continue to work.  While still figuring out if I should be using the pen or pencil, she hands me 2 -3 pages of release forms while asking me questions.

Finally, I’ve finished the paperwork!  She enters some information in the computer and asks again for my doctor’s name.  “The doctor is not in this building” she states matter-of-factly.  Quite puzzled, I asked why they would ask me to come to this address, when the doctor I’m to see is not even in here!  Well, that prompted the concierge to go check with the front desk and 30 minutes had passed before she came back with a confusing answer.

It was now 1/2 hour past my appointment time, so we had to reschedule.

Fluster and exhausted,  as I walked out I saw a sea of people whose average age seemed to be about 80.  Did they know what was in store for them?  How many, even with the mildest cognitive impairment would have found the system to be overwhelming and confusing?

When I finally saw my doctor the next day (go the elevator, make a right at the bank of desk, sit at the right side of the room, follow the Nurse assistant to the maze of small patient rooms and meet my Nurse Practitioner (not the one to whom I was assigned because she is in another building)… I mentioned to her that I was a Dementia and Aging Educator.

“We need dementia education so badly here!” she quickly replied. A simplified guided system with staff educated in signs to look for to identify those with MCI or mild/moderate dementia would be step #1.    Do they suggest to patients to bring someone with them that will have all of their current information, med list, etc?

They were in fact very interested in finding out more about the dementia training we offer.  I look forward to sharing Dementia Live™ with them and opening their eyes to what their patients experience as they traverse the healthcare maze.