dementia

The ABC’s of Well-Being

Seven Fast and Simple Strategies for

Finding Your Calm Center and Recovering Your Balance

 

We’ve known for a long time that caring for an ill family member can create prolonged or high levels of stress, creating greater risk for developing chronic illness. In this busy world, it’s important to notice when we feel stressed, and to quickly shift our minds and bodies to a calmer state, minimizing the impact of work and family stressors and reducing our vulnerability to illness.

Photo by W. J. Rusen

 

Join me at the Tompkins County Office for Aging in Ithaca, NY on Thursday, April 7th for a mini-workshop where we will explore seven super-quick and fun ways to tap into your internal calming system, enjoy greater peace of mind, and learn about free resources to support your well-being.

 

The workshop is free, but…     Please register to attend by calling the Office for the Aging: (607) 274-5492 or email dstoyell@tompkins-co.org

 

***

Lisa Kendall is a social worker and clinical gerontologist who specializes in aging and Elder care, living with chronic illness, and trauma recovery. Formerly Senior Consultant for Work and Family Services at Cornell University and now serving on the President’s Advisory Council for Work and Family Affairs, Lisa maintains a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca. She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative™ and teaches the Fieldwork class for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute. Lisa is a popular speaker at the local, state, and national level, and writes a blog on self-care for every member of the care partner team at www.lisakendallcounseling.com/blog

 

Making Peace with the Past

Please join me for this workshop!!

Making Peace with the Past:

The Impact of Emotional Trauma on Elder Well-Being

(and the Importance of Trauma-Informed Care!)

Wednesday, March 9

2:00-4:30 p.m.

The Ithaca College Gerontology Institute

at the Country Inn & Suites

1100 Danby Road (Route 96B), Ithaca, NY.

 

 

Early trauma is associated with increased incidence of chronic illness and depression in Elderhood, a time when Elders seek meaning in their lives and to resolve long-standing issues.

 

This session explores how person-directed, trauma-informed treatments can be used with Elders and care partners to integrate mind, body, and spirit, easing anxiety and depression and supporting The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being™.  Case studies will emphasize efficacy as well as explore mental health issues as they present in different care settings, and how to harness the unique gifts of this developmental stage.

 

Please Register here:

https://www.ithaca.edu/eventservices/eventservices/programpayments/gw/

and let your friends and colleagues know, too!!

***

Lisa Kendall is a social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist who has worked with Elders and care partners for over thirty years in home health care, adult day program, hospital, and nursing home settings. In her private therapy practice, she works with Elders, care partners, and others who live with chronic health and cognitive issues, and supports healing for survivors of trauma and loss.

Lisa is committed to using person-directed, trauma-informed therapies, including EMDR, and strength-based, person-directed approaches to maximize well-being for clients and their families. She also teaches the Fieldwork class for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, and serves on the Cornell University President’s Advisory Council on Work and Family Affairs.  

As an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, Lisa has a special interest in care of people living with dementia and in supporting well-being for the entire care partner team.

Do You Work with Elders? Early Registration Closes Soon!

The 8th Eden Alternative™ International Conference: “It’s About Time!”

May 3-4-5, 2016

Little Rock, Arkansas

EARLY REGISTRATION ENDS January 12!

This dynamic bi-annual event strives to inspire and renew the passion of those dedicated to changing the culture of care across all living environments. Through a unique learning framework, participants have the opportunity to deepen both perspective and skill base by exploring innovative approaches to person-directed care.

Learning and networking opportunities promote new ideas and standards of practice participants can apply to enhancing quality of life for Elders and their care partners, wherever they live and work.  A vital part of the conference experience is creating an opportunity to build a sense of community and shared learning among all participants. We are proud to be one of two major conferences that focus specifically on culture change. Come learn and grow with us!  It can be different…

Who should attend?

Previous Eden Alternative International Conferences have drawn attendees from all over the world. We welcome those new to culture change and those on the journey with extensive experience and expertise. We  emphasize the value of every voice in this important work.

Individuals from across the full continuum of care join us in the spirit of shared learning and discovery, including certified nursing assistants, administrators, licensed nurses, corporate leadership, therapists, activity professionals, social workers, physicians, dietary professionals, home care/home health professionals and other direct care providers, care managers, Elders and others accepting support, family members and advocates, youth, ombudsmen, policymakers, regulators, consultants, clergy, educators, researchers, and designers.

I hope to see you there!

www.edenalt.org

 

Complete information is available at: http://www.edenalt.org/events-and-offerings/the-eden-alternative-international-conference/

Many thanks and take care, Lisa K.

P.S. I will be joining with some amazing colleagues to facilitate a Leadership Intensive on “Navigating the Hero’s Journey: A Map for Wise Leadership in Culture Change”

Steve LeMoine, NHA, MBA; Mel Coppola, Lisa Kendall, LCSW-R, CSW-G; Mary Kim Smith, NHA, RN; Carole Ware-McKenzie, BS; Kim McRae, FCTA

What does it mean to be a leader in the culture change movement?  How can we continue to grow personally, facilitate transformation in our workplace and community, and ultimately change the world?  Join us as we use the tools and apply the lessons of “The Hero’s Journey,” (based on the work of Joseph Campbell), to navigate our unique path and facilitate growth in our organizations.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify 2 approaches for defining one’s a  personal leadership style;
  • Define two situations where more than one leadership style might be employed to effect change and growth; and
  • Name 2 techniques for recognizing leadership potential in others.

AND a break-out session on “Making Peace with the Past: The Impact of Emotional Trauma on Elder Well-Being and the Importance of Trauma-Informed Care”

Early trauma is associated with increased incidence of chronic illness and depression in Elderhood, a time when Elders seek meaning in their lives and to resolve long-standing issues.  This session explores how person-directed, trauma-informed treatments can be used with Elders and their care partners to integrate mind, body, and spirit, easing anxiety and depression and supporting the Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being™.  Case studies will emphasize efficacy as well as explore mental health issues as they present in different care settings, and how to harness the unique gifts of this developmental stage.

Participants will be able to:

  • List three benefits of resolving painful memories during Elderhood;
  • Detail 5 treatment strategies that support person-directed care; and
  • Utilize “The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being™” to understand and assess the impact of unresolved trauma.

(Now you REALLY want to come!!!!)

 

P.P.S. I grabbed the conference description from The Eden Alternative homepage.  Be as BOLD as I and check it out HERE!

Final Thoughts for Caregiver Appreciation Month

Please join me in appreciating Jean Lee for writing this guest blog post, on the final day of Caregiver Appreciation Month!  Thank you, Jean, and thanks to all of the people who are writing about their experiences as care partners. Let’s listen to the voices of care partners every month!

***

Caregivers. We are all caregivers. As humans we care for one another, or we should. Most especially, we care for those close to us.

 

  • As a youth I loved and respected my parents, a form of caring for them in my child-like way.
  • As a young wife and mom, I cared for my husband and children.
  • As a teacher, I cared for my students.

 

But the logical timeline of maturation, love, and respect tipped topsy-turvy when my parents reached their eighties. They slowly began to lose their minds and act irrationally. I became concerned for their safety. I sought out medical treatment, and they were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease on the same day.

 

Over the next decade I became the parent to my parents. I gradually, painfully made decisions they opposed in order to protect their well-being. In the process, I felt guilty taking everything away from the people who had given me everything.

 

As I struggled to keep the pieces of my life together­––my marriage, my own family, my career and the care of my parents­­––I grasped for resources, but found few. I am a positive person, therefore I sought uplifting resources, but much of what I read was written with a negative undertone. I found books about the ill treatment of a caregiver by an unreasonable loved one, about adult siblings who fought, and about children who had grown up with angst toward a parent continuing through caregiving years. Even so, every time I found a kernel of truth, I felt as though I could keep going, someone else was brave enough to share this upside down world as well.

 

I came to the conclusion that sharing my story might help others.

 

IMG_5151

Alzheimer’s Daughter details my journey caring for both parents who were diagnosed on the same day. It is written with wincing honesty about the cruel affects of the disease, but a WWII love story held together by faith and family is contained within the pages.

 

Over the past several months, four other authors from across the country and I have crossed paths, all of us affected in some way by Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.

 

For the month of November, the five of us have joined together in recognition of National Caregiver Appreciation Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month to recognize those unsung heroes, family caregivers. From each other we learned that all of us felt compelled to write our books, hoping to make a difference…hoping that we might make the pathway of others traveling this road a little less painful and lonely. Perhaps you will find comfort and support within our pages.

 

IMG_5150

Somebody Stole My Iron, by Vicki Tapia

 

Vicki details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions involved in caring for her parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe her book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.” Vicki wrote this story to offer hope to others, to reassure them that they’re not alone.

 

 

 

 

BlueHydrangeas EBOOK cover

Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco

 

Marianne describes herself as a writer who happens to be a nurse. This work of fiction is based upon her care for the elderly. It’s a tenderly told love story about Jack and Sara, owners of a New England bed and breakfast. Sara is stricken with Alzheimer’s and Jack becomes her caregiver.

 

 

 

 

flowers

What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wiersbitzky

 

Shannon writes this work of fiction through the eyes of a small-town preteen girl, Delia, whose elderly neighbor, Old Red Clancy is failing mentally. The aged gentleman has to be placed in a care facility, but Delia will not let him wither away. She devises a way for the whole community to remind Old Red how important he has been in all of their lives.

 

 

 

 

Pluto_cover

On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien

 

Diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, Greg O’Brien’s story isn’t about losing someone else to Alzheimer’s, it is about losing himself a sliver at a time while still fighting to live with Alzheimer’s, not die with it.

 

 

 

 

***

Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY, and teaches the Fieldwork in Gerontology course for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

 

Is Cognitive Screening Part of your Routine Physical Exam?

In honor of National Memory Screening Day, I am proud to host guest blogger Jean Lee, author of "Alzheimer's Daughter." Jean raises awareness about the importance of screening for cognitive health, just as we do for blood pressure, diabetes, and routine cancer screenings. Read the rest of this entry »

Security and Well-Being in Elderhood

Welcome to the fifth installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

 

After my Grandfather died, just before Christmas in 1994, our family discovered that my Grandmother was having trouble with her memory. At first the doctor thought she was having problems because of grief or depression, then she began to believe that drug dealers were working in her basement, and that airplanes were taking off from her yard. She was calling the state police to come help her.

It must have been a terrible time for her, and I know it was hard on my Mom, who became her long-distance-primary-caregiver. Thankfully, one of my cousins was able to stay with her for a time, giving both my Grandmother and my Mom more peace of mind.

Grandparents Belles Christine and Diane Jackson PAGrandma had married young, and she and her husband were devoted to each other. After his death, we’d found a cross-section slice of tree in the shape of a heart, inscribed with their initials, that we believe my Grandfather had found and cut and carved as a Christmas gift for his wife.

Eventually my Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she moved into a lovely personal care home near her house. The terrifying hallucinations stopped, and we were able to visit without worry that she was alone and frightened.

Security is one of the “domains of well-being,” and it’s easy to see how important it is that we feel safe.

I think living in the little Cape Cod-style house she and my Grandfather had built together felt so cozy and warm for all those years because they had each other. My Grandfather provided a wonderful sense of security for his family. When he died, Grandma was truly alone, and her own home was transformed into a place of loneliness and fear.

Security is about knowing that there is someone else there when you need them, about knowing the people that provide your care, and their knowing you.

Who or what helps you feel secure? Can you think of a time when you didn’t feel safe, or imagine a time when your older loved one might have felt “insecure?”

Share your thoughts on “Security,” one of The Eden Alternative’s Seven Domains of Well-Being™, and click HERE to read more about it in the Eden Alternative White Paper on the topic.

***

Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

Elder Care: The Dignity of Choice

Welcome to the fourth installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). Read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

***

My first job working with Elders was as “social services designee” in a nursing home in 1983. I learned many lessons from the Elders there, and many from older, wiser, and more experienced colleagues.

One lesson in particular is really burned into my memory.

I must have been in an Elder’s room with one of the nurses, or maybe we were out in the hallway. She took me aside and told me that even if the only decision a person living with frailty or dementia could make was how they wanted their toast cut, it was important to always offer choice.

She said it was about ensuring that a person has “autonomy,” necessary to preserving human dignity.

Wow.

It might sound like a small thing, but that lesson really made an impact on me.

Autonomy is one of the domains of well-being, as described by The Eden Alternative.  We have a human need to have choice, to know that we have some control over our lives.

Autumn Tree SunsetThroughout my career I’ve tried to tune in to how physical or cognitive changes might narrow our choices.

If our ability to drive safely is compromised, “taking away the car keys” can be painful and humiliating for Elders and family alike.

It can be a challenge to find the choice in that situation, when something so essential to our independence feels threatened.

How we talk about these difficult decisions can make all the difference. We need to think about how we recognize the need for autonomy, and then work to fulfill it.

In the case of making a different decision about transportation, we must offer as many choices as possible under the circumstances. In our community, we have a bus service for Elders, and also a volunteer driver program. Offering the Elder their preference won’t completely “fix” the loss of one’s own car, but at least it preserves the opportunity to choose for oneself from the possible options.

Autonomy also means that Elders, or the people who receive services from an organization or live in a community, should have a say in how they experience services, or in how their home is operated.

Does your local home care agency have Elders on the team that interviews applicants for staff positions?  Why-ever not!?!

We can also preserve choice by thinking about health care decision-making and choosing someone to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself.  This is a powerful way to ensure your preferences are honored, your voice is heard.

I wrote about this a few years ago; you can check out my blog on planning for future health care by clicking HERE.

Person-directed care doesn’t mean that we can offer any and all choices, regardless of the consequences. It does mean we look at realistic parameters, confer with the person who is most affected by changes, and find ways to offer the dignity of choice.

***

Do you have stories about how you’ve been able to preserve choice, even when options have become limited? This can be a tricky area, so sharing what’s worked in your circumstance can be extremely helpful to others!

Perhaps you’re struggling with this now. Please let us know what issues are challenging you, and we’ll invite the  community to share stories that may help!

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

***

Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family members, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

You can reach Lisa at (607) 351-1313, or via email at crossroadscounseling@hotmail.com

Well-Being in Old Age: How Elders Grow

Welcome to the third installment in a series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). You can read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

***

In the Eden Alternative philosophy, we define care as “that which helps another to grow.”

It’s a powerful way to shift our understanding of relationships, and to broaden our traditional view of care, which tends to focus on problems, and on treatment of the body alone.

When I was asking someone recently about their “support system,” they named a few people they felt close to. Then I shared this definition of care and asked “who or what helps you grow,” and the person poured out a list of resources they hadn’t thought of before.

These are the people (or animal companions) on our care team, and it all sounds like a good and positive thing. Still, I sometimes strike a nerve when I talk with people about “growth.”

“What is growth? What does that word mean?”

Dr. Bill Thomas writes about the stage of life known as “Elderhood” in his book. “What are old people for? How Elders will save the world,” and posits that growth is a part of Elderhood, as it is part of all of life’s developmental stages.

We are so used to thinking about Elderhood as a stage of decline that we overlook the many ways we continue to grow.

OMA Art by L KendallSome of us struggle with the very idea of growth in the midst of decline, or see growth through the eyes of Adulthood, where we strive to improve our job skills, increase income, or strengthen and build muscle.

These kinds of growth may or may not happen in one’s Elderhood. And we’re so use to looking at the world through the eyes of adulthood, that we may need to broaden our ideas about what growth can mean.

I started thinking about growth in the last phase of life when I had the chance to work with several people who were dying, or who were family care partners with loved ones who were dying. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by sadness and be focused on loss in this instance, but I have seen amazing healing and growth occur, even at the death bed.

This kind of healing and growth is almost always about intangible qualities, such as increasing forgiveness, wisdom, peace, acceptance, love, relationships, or one’s relationship to the Divine.

Growth is possible for people who are living with cognitive challenges, such as dementia. As care partners, we can learn patience, kindness, and forgiveness, to name but a few.  Elders may learn to accept support, let go of painful memories, and learn to express themselves with more freedom and joy.

The art that accompanies this post was done by me during a workshop by the good people at Scripps Gerontological Institute.  Their program, “Opening Minds Through Art,” (or OMA), shows us how people living with dementia can create fabulous art when we shift how we think about art itself.  Coloring between the lines may be difficult when you live with dementia, but watch the amazing transformation when Elders are given the tools and encouragement to create abstract art!  Check out this program at: www.scrippsoma.org

Have you seen someone grow in spiritual strength as their body is dying? Can you imagine growing in one’s ability to adapt to the changes brought about by aging or illness? Is there room for relationships to heal in our last stage of life?

What does growth mean to you? Who or what helps you grow?

Leave a comment about growth; you’ll be helping all of us grow in understanding!

***

Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family care partners, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

Identity and Age

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasrstegelmann/1811854387/in/photolist-3L7ebK-pkc6tN-5uiz6E-64zny-5JGsnE-5P2CM3-5sQTMb-boxwhh-4FjTxT-4wkCAt-9d69qF-64zoC-38oyd9-xUiw1-4MRxcX-rkvyv-4km959-K3Y2U-K3YcW-9w9dKW-q8bgQV-4vdwk-64vP9z-2w6KQ9-4M5JNi-ABJEr-ehiBXD-5HDdD9-qXwhx-5hQGof-dSp8Ka-pQxH1b-5ZtHAE-51sFsv-7zkdyx-8KGRCA-rA7Bae-5JGshy-5JCbpZ-5Pqed4-qHyG6-oMiQei-4sMAYF-sGXftu-5rNCji-ncyBXt-hLEdup-8SoHfT-4wjQEe-8YV1Ln

Thomas R Stegelmann, courtesy of Flickr

Welcome to the second in an 8-part series of blog posts on The Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being(TM). You can read more about these domains by clicking HERE!

  • * * *

In 1984 I worked in an Adult Day Program that served people living with dementia, and also had a fair number of people attending who lived with Parkinson’s disease. One of the things that really jumped out at me at this time of my career was how differently our staff care partners thought about and interacted with the Elders, as opposed to how the family seemed to see them.

A woman I’ll call Helen had a beautiful smile and often struggled to get the right word out. I could usually get what she was trying to tell me by watching her gestures, and she sighed with relief when I offered the misplaced word.

Helen was always well-dressed, lipstick in place, and she carefully carried her purse on her arm. She had worked as an accountant in her career, and she enjoyed sitting behind the director’s desk. She looked completely at ease next to the large adding machine!

I loved Helen, appreciating her playful spirit, and the way she laughed when someone would dance with her. One day I had the ladies gather in a circle in the side yard and we tossed a Nerf football around. Helen placed her handbag carefully at her feet, and proceeded to have a great time with our silly game. No rules, just fun.

Helen’s family members were often tearful when they dropped Helen off at the program, and explained how hard it was for them to lose the “old Helen,” the mother and wife who had been so sharp in her work and careful in her dress. Now Helen couldn’t tell one end of a sweater from another, and needed help getting it turned right-way around.

Which identity was truly Helen?

Here is a place where we want to “embrace the power of ‘and,’” as Dr. Bill Thomas says in his book, “What are Old People for: How Elders will Save the World.”

A big part of Helen’s identity was about her past: her work, her relationships, her special skills and talents. Knowing her history helped us understand why she was so attracted to the big desk and its adding machine. AND a big part of Helen was the desire to connect she brought to the program every day: the painstaking conversation, the laughter, and the dancing.

I always honor the grieving process a family experiences when a loved one lives with dementia and the changes it brings, AND I am here to say that there is tremendous joy in seeing who the person is now, and getting to know them as they are, now.

Sometimes it felt like Helen and the other folks in the day program needed some time away from their dearest loved ones, where the sadness and frustration couldn’t help but reflect in their eyes. I believe they needed an environment where they could be accepted and loved for who they are now, and that can be easier for someone who is not a close relative or long-time friend.

We may be seen by the people around us in different ways, depending on the relationship and the context. It’s another way to understand how a care partner team can work together to both give and receive care from one another, and help us express the many facets of our identity!

How do you support identity for Elders who live with dementia? How about your own identity – are you able to do the things that connect with your innermost self, or have you pushed some part of yourself aside to cope with the challenges of caregiving? Please share your stories with our community in the comment spaces below.

***

Lisa Kendall supports well-being in her work with Elders and their family care partners, as well as with professional care partners.  She is an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative, and has a private counseling and consulting practice in Ithaca, NY.

How do you define “Well-Being” for Elders and Caregivers?

What does "well-being" mean to you? We often equate well-being with health, strength, and the vigor of youth. When these fade, whether through illness, injury, or advancing age, society sees us (and we may see ourselves) as unable to truly have well-being. Read the rest of this entry »
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