In my last post I criticized a reporter for the Australian Financial Review for his characterization of people living with dementia, and of our aging population in general. My comments were aimed purely at his offensive stereotypes, and did not address deeper issues around the subject matter. Now that the furor over that article has subsided somewhat, it’s time to tackle that deeper concern. Continue reading →
I would like to dedicate this post to my husband’s super awesome Nan. She loved the 4th of July and her family would have reunions over the 4th to celebrate her birthday and her favorite holiday. 2015 is the first year we celebrate the 4th without her, as she passed this past October. Unfortunately, my husband and I couldn’t be with them in New Jersey this year to celebrate, and we are really missing the family this holiday.
Nan opening birthday gifts at her 80th birthday tea party
This article is a re-post from Changing Aging, another great website to check out!
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a contact from a Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) in my home state of Montana who was seeking advice on how to drive dramatic changes in dementia care practices in the state’s nursing homes. (QIO’s are independent state organizations chartered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to advocate for high quality health care by providers receiving federal funding.)
She had seen Alive Inside and heard about my connection to the film (my mother runs one of the larger nursing homes in the state and has helped boost the film). Like so many other culture change advocates she saw this film as a clarion call for action.
She called asking for advice about how best to leverage the film to get nursing homes to adopt new practices of dementia care that will help dramatically reduce the use of anti-psychotic prescriptions to treat Alzheimer’s and dementia statewide.
Prepare your brain for a bountiful flood of new research on how music can “Change the Brain.” For years, music therapy experts, caregiving professionals and family members have known, from personal experience, that music does something – or a combination of somethings – to improve health and elevate mood. But, the nature of that something remained mysterious.
If you’re like me, you weren’t surprised to read about the recent Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study finding that two-thirds of retirees now say they are living in “the best home of their life.”
I, too, am living in my dream home, but with a different cast of characters than I could have ever imagined. When a divorce left me living alone in newly remodeled 5-bedroom home in 2008, I searched for and found four roommates to fill the bedrooms.
I came across this post on the Changing Aging blog (a good read, by the way). I think it also expresses my thoughts that Alzheimer’s and other dementias are certainly an adventure. You don’t know what is around the next corner, you don’t know where it is going or what will happen along the way, in a very real way, the loved ones and caregivers are along for the ride.
But I don’t think it needs to be all sad and loss-related. There are some wonderful experiences interacting with someone with dementia. One of my favorite endearing qualities of people with dementia, is that they lose their ability to lie – so when they ask you who you are, they are genuinely interested in you in that moment, if they are excited about their favorite food, they will do a little ice cream dance. And these glimpses of genuine self-expression are the little golden nuggets that make me smile at the end of the day. I have a hard time expressing to people why I enjoy working with people with dementia so much (it was even harder when I was in my 20s), but if they haven’t done it, they can’t understand how rewarding it is to learn to see someone’s personality through all the dementia noise.
Many people think it is depressing to work with dementia, and I am hoping to challenge that stigma through my work and let people know that living with dementia, like anything in life, is a journey – an adventure. No, it will not always be pleasant, but it will not always be unpleasant, either. And much like other things in life, the adventure is richer when we share it with others!