Key to Quality of Life and Strong Contributor to Culture Change
An individualized, well though out activities program is at the heart of a quality life for residents in nursing homes or assisted living residences. Activities is not just about bingo and watching television. In fact, activity programs can be quite creative and stimulating for the mind. And the health and well-being benefits of a good program are becoming more and more documented. In short, this stuff works.
This information comes to us from the Global Action on Aging, based in New York City. The copyright at the bottom of the page is for 2002, so my best guess is that this is an old article. However, I wanted to post it here because it gives some insight into the care policy in Denmark.
This article comes from the Danish news source Kristeligt Dagblad (Christian Daily Paper). It’s about a particular gray zone in dementia care – the sex life of the spouse to someone with dementia. The original article is in Danish (you can access it by clicking on the title, below), and I have translated the article into English and edited the content to fit this blog.
I think it’s important to realize that the issue isn’t black and white and it isn’t just about sex or adultery. It’s about our very human need to connect with others, to share with others, and the emotional bond of companionship – all of which can also happen without sex. It is a similarly difficult issue when individuals with dementia find a new girl/boyfriend – they are acting on their emotional drive for closeness and attachment to others.
This forward-thinking program brings a preschool in to a home for elders. This provides a meaningful interaction for everyone involved – the children, the elderly, the teachers, and the family members. I really hope this catches on!
Watch the video, read the article, and donate to their Kickstarter campaign! Enjoy!
‘Present Perfect’ was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, Washington, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center. Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away. This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.
“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of the nation.” -Margaret Mead
Why is this film important?
Present Perfect explores the very real experience of aging in America- both growing up, and growing old. It was filmed in a preschool housed completely within a retirement home, powerfully capturing the subtleties and complexities of the young children’s interactions with the elderly residents, while challenging us to consider what we’re doing- and what we’re not- to prepare future generations for what’s to come. What value does a person have to others throughout their life? Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life? While this film doesn’t shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope that, we believe, just might lead to serious positive change.
The Present Perfect team is asking you to join us by helping us raise the money we need to create a rough cut of the film, and bring this unique and valuable story to life. We need your support to make this happen!
ABOUT THE FILM
The inspiration for Present Perfect stemmed from a longstanding desire to explore the experience of aging in America. As a filmmaker, I’m drawn to simple, subtle stories that provide a framework for much bigger ideas, stories that promote reflection, revealing new layers of complexity that ultimately expand our way of thinking about a particular topic and even, perhaps, our entire world view. I love films that really make you think– and not just in the moment, but for days, weeks, even months following. After spending a few days observing the residents and kids at The Mount, I knew this was one of those stories.
Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away.
When I heard about the Mount and its Intergenerational Learning Center, I was struck by the simple perfection of the concept. I was further intrigued by the idea that with neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present. Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned. As busy, frazzled, perpetually multi-tasking adults, we are always admonished to live ‘in the moment’. But what does that mean? And with the endless distractions provided by our smart phones and numerous other devices, how can we? I was curious to observe these two groups, occupying opposite ends of the life spectrum, to see firsthand what it meant for them to simply be present with each other.
Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is- for us all.
Over the course of the months I was filming at the Mount, I observed many incredible exchanges between residents and kids. Some were sweet, some awkward, some funny- all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real. One experience in particular occurred during a morning visit between the toddler classroom and several residents who had gathered to sing songs together. Everyone had just finished a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” when one of the residents began to share a memory he had of singing that very same song late at night on a bus full of soldiers while serving overseas during World War II.
The clarity with which this gentleman recalled this era of his life so many years ago was breathtaking- the memory seeming to appear before his eyes as he spoke. And though the kids were too young to understand his words, the fact that their presence provided a catalyst for his recollection just seemed to fit in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way. I’ve reflected on that moment many times since- it was beautiful and profound, and I was grateful to have been there to witness it. Those small, quiet moments are often the ones that contain the most meaning, and sadly are also the ones that most of us are too busy and distracted in our day-to-day lives to notice.
This is a film about the very young and the very old, yes. But it’s also about something bigger, something harder to pin down, but so essential in every way. In the words of Susan Bosak, founder of the Legacy Project, “It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Present Perfect was filmed at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, WA, also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center, over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. This project has been one gigantic labor of love, funded entirely out of my own pocket for the first two years. I invested in new camera and audio equipment so that I could function as a one-woman crew and truly embed myself in the environment. I paid babysitters to watch my kids so that I could film three times a week for the entire school year, and I’ve spent countless hours applying for grants and pitching this film to as many people as possible. All of this in addition to juggling my regular paid work as a freelance producer and adjunct professor of film! And it doesn’t stop there. Numerous friends and colleagues have generously donated their time and talents to help get the film to where it is now, while a handful of friends and family contributed funds allowing me to hire an editor to help put together the trailer you see above. I am so grateful to everyone who has had a hand in seeing this project get off the ground.We are well on our way!
Now we need to raise enough to complete the edit. That’s where you come in! All of the feedback I have received from industry professionals as well as regular folks has been extremely positive! The project was even awarded a grant in 2013 by Artist Trust, an organization that supports Washington State artists.People are intrigued and want to see more! In order to make that happen we need to bring on an experienced documentary editor to provide a fresh perspective and help to shape the story from the amazing footage we have to work with. Fortunately the film has been shot already- the footage is in hand! But post-production is not cheap. We need to raise at least $50,000 to pay for the edit of this film.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
For those of you who may not be familiar with Kickstarter, it’s an all or nothing deal. We have to raise the full amount in order to get any money at all. Any donation, no matter how small, helps in a major way! The goal is to get this project seen by as many people as possible. So in addition to giving to the campaign, you can also help by sharing this Kickstarter page and spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, phone, bike messenger, telegram, or by simply shouting it from the mountain tops!
We’ve set a goal of raising $50,000 to pay for the edit, but with $75,000 we could cover some additional costs necessary to complete the film including:
composition of an original score
So if we make it to $50,000- let’s keep going!
All of the money raised by this Kickstarter campaign will go directly toward the editing of this film. We have high hopes for this project and are committed to seeing it reach its full potential. With your help, it can happen!
What would happen if you paired the very young with the very old?
It’s being done at a preschool in Seattle, where child care takes place throughout a campus which is also home to more than 400 older adults.
Called the Intergenerational Learning Center, the preschool is located within Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care center in West Seattle. Five days a week, the children and residents come together in a variety of planned activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or just visiting.
And now this incredible place is about to have its own film. Called “Present Perfect,” it was shot over the course of the 2012-2013 school year by filmmaker Evan Briggs, who is also an adjunct professor at Seattle University. Funded completely out of her own pocket and shot by her alone, Briggs has now launched a Kickstarter to fund the editing of the movie. She has more than $45,000 of her $50,000 goal with 15 days to go.
Interestingly, the parents of the students don’t send their kids to the Intergenerational Learning Center primarily for the experience with the seniors. “It’s got a great reputation and great teachers,” said Briggs. But parents of kids who were in the class that she embedded herself in for the school year now tell her they see the benefit of the model. “One father told me that he especially sees it now that his own parents are aging.”
She named the film “Present Perfect” she said, as a reference to the fact that these two groups of people — the preschoolers, who have almost no past and so much future and the elderly who such rich past but very little future — really only have a few years of overlap in their lives.
“It’s also about being in the present moment,” Briggs said, “something so many adults struggle with.”
Briggs said the moments between the kids and the residents “sweet, some awkward, some funny — all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real.”
Briggs hopes her film will open a conversation about aging in America. She writes on her Kickstarter, “Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society. And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is for us all.”
She called the preschool a “genius” idea that is “well within our reach” on a larger scale and hopes the idea expands to other schools around the country. “It’s a great example of how we integrate the elderly into society.”
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.
January, 2014, a new residence and care home for aging adults opened in Nørresundby, Denmark (just across the fjord from Aalborg). It’s called Fremtidensplejehjem, which means Nursing Home of the Future, and it’s a new facility that is based on sensory stimulation, keeping active/exercise, and socialization. It incorporates new design, and open and social use of space, and high technologies.
I have been attending public and academic meetings in the community about the Fremtidensplejehjem for about the past 2 or 3 years, so have had a good idea of what they envisioned. I was studying welfare technologies specific to dementia care at Aalborg University, so this new building was particularly interesting for me. Yes, I applied for a job there when they were opening, but, unfortunately was not one of the lucky chosen. Part of the reason could be that they are not focusing on dementia care in Fremtidens – of course they know that they will have residents with dementia (in Denmark, around 85% of those in institutional care have some form of dementia), but they did not adjust the facility to specifically accommodate them. I think this might be motivated by their plan to later build a Dementia Nursing Home of the Future (plans are for this building to open in 2017).
Even though I don’t have paid work there, I live quite close and have grown fond of using their entrance area (with plenty of tables, free wifi, sunlight, and free coffee as my “free range” office. I take my lap top and books, set up at one of the tables, and draw inspiration from the surroundings. I must say, so far, all the staff and residents I have encountered in my “free range” office have been absolutely accommodating and helpful, and it seems as if they also enjoy that people from the community use the public space – it brings a different kind of life to a “nursing home” when it is also a space that people meet up for coffee, for visiting with friends (who may or may not live in the institution), for “free range” working, and for bringing a bit more of the community into the community space. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I imagine when I get into some writers block or stuck on a problem, a leisurely walk along the fjord will get the creative juices flowing again.
Thursday, March 20, 2014, I attended a guided tour of Fremtidens, hosted by Alzheimer Foreningen, the Danish Alzheimer’s Association. The tour was led by a PhD student who has been involved with the project for the past 3 years (I didn’t know they had PhDs or students working on the project – which is a little weird since I was one of maybe 5 people that I knew of at the University studying dementia care and the only one at the University studying technologies for dementia care), and we got to see the IT helpdesk (offered free to the public to help older adults figure out their online services used for banking, healthcare, and other governmental services), the wide hallways, the gym and rehabilitation rooms (also offered free to the public over age 65), common areas such as the Orangium (a space where the residents can hang out with an excellent view of the harbor), kitchens where families can come to cook meals together and the residents make bread on the weekends, the media room (for watching movies, listening to music, or reading – also with a fantastic patio overlooking the harbor), and a few other things. Continue reading →
I am taking a day of rest this Sunday. I have been going pretty steady 7 days a week with my latest project (writing a project proposal on healthy and active aging with Aalborg University) and a month of that, plus my own work, has me feeling a bit pooped today. Tomorrow, I start a new project with Copenhagen Living Lab, trying to bring music therapy into nursing homes here in the area.
And on my day off, I am catching up on laundry, dementia in the news, dishes (oh, the dishes…), yoga, and my favorite show, Parks and Recreation. I don’t know any other series that puts me in such a good mood as Parks and Rec.
And one person who I really admire is Leslie Knope. I think she’s a great role model for women.
I was digging around the Aalborg Kommune website today and wandered upon this little gem. It was under their page on weddings and receptions in the Municipality.
Det kunne også være en mulighed med en frokost sammen med et par af familiens gamle, der ikke har energien og kræfterne til aftenens festforløb. Her kan de være med fuld intensitet opleve brudeparret med mere kontakt end aftenen ville kunne give. Det kan være en yderst positiv oplevelse, for både brudepar som tiptip-per.
Er der mindre mobilitet, kan brudeparret køre omkring plejehjemmet og vise sig frem. Der er ikke noget der vækker gode minder som at se en nygift brud. Gommen følger gratis med.
It could also be an option for a lunch together with a few of the family’s older members that do not have energy and strength for the night’s party program. Here, they can with full intensity experience bridal couple with more contact than the night would bring. It can be an extremely positive experience for both couples.
If there is less mobility, the bride and groom can go around the nursing home and show off. There is nothing that evokes fond memories like watching a newly married bride. The groom is included for free.
A very appropriate and thoughtful suggestion from Aalborg Kommune!!