Fool’s Gold

All that glitters is not gold. When choosing a place for a loved one with dementia it is very important to research what is truly being offered. Is it simply a secured unit? Does it have a different staffing ratio? Is  the staff  trained in dementia care? An individual with dementia has unique activity needs. How is that accommodated on the unit?  Is the unit designed to encourage reminiscence? As a caregiver, you are very aware of the unique challenges your loved one presents in the face of medication; meals; loss of independence. How is the facility prepared to meet…

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Pioneer Network

Last weekend passionate people committed to changing the face of long-term care met in Little Rock, Arkansas.  1200 strong, they came from many states, many types of care backgrounds but focused on one goal—changing care.  It was an inspiring gathering with long-time personal heroes like Bill Thomas and Dr. Richard Taylor taking concepts to a new level.  I was fortunate enough to be one of many guides to personalizing care.  It was a powerful weekend that will serve as fuel for my teaching, my research and my writing.

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“A tree planted by the river is evergreen . . .”  This Jeremiah verse 17:8 has been my mantra in providing dementia care.  As a healthcare worker I have seen how quickly an elder can die though still breathing, still receiving excellent medical and physical care.  The river that once flowed through their life, had moved as surely as a tree that was uprooted.  Transplanted to a sterile environment that lacks the unique characteristics that once made them thrive.  This environment has many caretakers that tend their physical needs but just a few whose role is to tend their spirit. …

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Chicken Legs and Bud Light

Today was a final farewell to a beloved member of my eldercare community.  She came to us reluctantly from independent living with higher health needs then they could manage.  Happy hour was the daily norm for her.  Bud Light was her favorite.  But she adapted to Root Beer Float Socials and a personal happy hour .  Bingo was a second favorite, with a call of B11 resulting in her humorous exclamation of “Chicken Legs”.   These are the monikers that will come to mind for years to come for many of us. But what really will linger is her grace.  She…

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If Forced to Choose

My dissertation data collection coupled with helping find Long-Term Care for an elder has left me in a curious position.  I have been a committed proponent of elder healthcare that combines the medical and social model.  Attending body as well as spirit.  The commitment was rooted in two phenomenal work experiences with teams committed to the dual model.  Keep in mind, we didn’t call them by the academic term–medical and social models.  We simply were committed to holistic care at Winter Growth and at Asbury Methodist Village.  Both non-profits had created a team and an environment of care that allowed…

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Dementia Care Australia

In researching person-centered care and its impact on both staff and residents with dementia, I followed the source to Dementia Care Australia. It is a look into what I hope to one day develop. The focus on facilitating culture change in facilities through training, presentations, and even products is refreshing.  Check out the program, Spark of Life.  It’s based in solid best practice.

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Count Your Blessings

He came to us through the labyrinth of university closed doors. Ninety-two years old, Jesse G. wanted to develop a cognitive brain program. He landed on Dr. E’s desk because she has a big heart and hoped to gain future goodwill for research in the assisted living arena. He was a successful business man with a passion to get his peers out of their depression and back into life. By the time our research team met with him, he had formulated an entire program of reminiscence as well as a battery of tests to assess its value. He envisioned starting…

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Pioneer Network

The Pioneer Network is a stakeholder coalition formed in the 80’s by a group of ombudsman in New York. Their funding was from a astute money manager and dairy farm owner, Daisy Marquis. Her foundation funded the group of medical model stakeholders who continue today to fight for Culture Change in nursing home care. They are an organization committed to marrying the social model with the medical model to provide optimal care. Care that meets not just physical needs but psychosocial needs as well. A group committed to autonomy and health. Check out their website: Their DC conference is…

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Autonomy and Health

Autonomy and Health The fine balance necessary between these two standards is never clearer than in the recent Florida death of an 86 year old female resident of an assisted living facility. She signed herself out, went to a local grocery store and then drove off of a boat ramp. She was found seven days later drowned. The media and community reaction varied. It ranged from suicide being her goal, to memory loss and directional impairment, to “the right to die” her way. Had she been residing in a nursing home, she would probably not have had the autonomy to…

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Breadcrumbs Through the Forest

An analogy of Alzheimer’s disease could be one of a forest being taken over by undergrowth. The clear paths that once existed neuron to neuron are being overtaken by plagues and tangles that make the cognitive journey difficult. When the thoughts are no longer connecting to guarantee recognition of loved ones and tasks of daily living, more care providers are added. These are folks who don’t know the individual at all but hopefully understand the disease and its impact. How do they get to know the “resident”, “patient”, or “client”? They need a trail of breadcrumbs through the undergrowth. That’s…

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