New Strategies for an Old Reality

As 2021 rolls out with hope in a vaccine, it is a good time to take stock of
adaptations we made in 2020 and want to continue. Our world is
moving toward solutions for the pandemic, but we will need to continue to
hold the line on safety and precaution.
Looking at the successes of 2020 we see the increase in online and
telephone resources. Out of necessity, we as a country were able to pivot to
continue our outreach and interconnection.
Research shows that online education and cognitive behavior therapy
improve the mental health of dementia caregivers.1 This is borne out in a
recent publication of Brain & Life: “By switching to virtual events,
organizations we have reached a population that may have been overlooked
before. ‘We’ve filled a niche we didn’t know was there, even without
COVID”.2 Even telemedicine research validates the use of smartphone and
digital technology.3
As Dr. Cate and Arden Courts have pivoted to virtual and telephone
education, support and engagement, we have been able to reach many who
were not attending live events. As dementia stages advance, the ability to
“get out the door” becomes more challenging. The coaxing, the prep with
grooming, timing, medication had prevented many from reaching out for the
health that education, support and engagement offer. Those are the
individuals we were able to reach more effectively using the new virtual
In the words of one virtual support group member, “The virtual world has
helped those of us who are often isolated in our homes,” Ogden says. “I like
feeling anchored to a community. I’m really sad that it took a pandemic to
make it happen, but now that virtual events are here, I really hope they
don’t go away.”2
Many initially said, “I’m too old for all that technology.” We have witnessed
family members setting up the computer for mom and dad to use easily;
seen training courses offered on successful virtual participation and found
the telephone more vital than ever. With the right support, we see that
indeed they learned new technology. Now they meet more frequently, have
developed deeper friendships and stronger support than they had with
simply attending live events.
This is not to suggest that live is not important, we know it is. Of course, we
look forward to the day that we can convene safely person-to-person. But
the new reality of virtual connection is that it is stronger than imaginable. In
fact, most organizations polled said that they would take the new and add it
to the old.
A hybrid of in-person and virtual events are projected as we move forward in
national health from COVID 19. Meanwhile we have been given the gift of
meeting people in their homes as they are.
If you are feeling isolated, missing people and conversation, reach out to Dr.
Cate or Arden Courts for assistance accessing our virtual support,
engagement and education. The legacy of 2020 will long remain, but
together we can apply our now strong new strategies in 2021

Author: Cate
Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.

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