Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

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!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 »

Do Caregivers Ever Get a Snow Day?

There is a storm coming, and I can feel the pressure in my temples.

People have been calling or texting to cancel their appointments, and while there have already been numerous accidents on our local roads, the “real” storm is expected to build slowly today and hit us hard overnight and into tomorrow.

I think we’re hard-wired to seek shelter when the weather is bad. For some of us, that “low pressure headache” is both warning and encouragement to get back into the safety and security of our bed to wait out the danger, or at least to hit the sofa.

In the movies, a storm usually marks some kind of change. In real life, it can feel like a call to action. Gather milk and toilet paper! Check the generator! Mount those studded snow tires!

Once our most basic needs are assured, we may use the storm as an excuse to take a break from the everyday busy-ness of life. There is a different feel to the world when it is muffled by several inches of snow. Businesses close, messy roads discourage travel, and we can postpone the mundane.

A snow day isn’t just for school children; we can all decide to stay in our jammies and watch old movies on TCM.Ravens on the Field

When you care for someone who lives with chronic illness, dementia, or frailty, there are some tasks that will have to be done no matter the conditions. Barring true Apocalypse, we have to have food, manage getting to and from the bathroom, take medications, and consider bathing and other personal care.

Is it possible for a care partner to enjoy a snow day?

Sometimes a shift in how we think about the day can make space for us to focus more on the moment, and less on the many tasks that always seem to clutter our to-do list.

A snow day can mean pulling out a game you enjoy, putting on some music, and generally loafing where and when you can. A snow day can be for “being” more than “doing.”

It’s natural! Embrace the snow day by slowing down, making some hot chocolate, and spending time with the person you care for. Accept some care today, and enjoy the blanket of winter.

How do you make a “snow day” special for yourself and your loved ones? What rituals bring you comfort and help you slow down at this time of year? Please share your thoughts with our community, and stay safe and warm!

 

Rest and Renewal for Caregivers, in Only 10 Minutes!

In 2011, I wrote a blog post about the importance of regularly taking time away from caregiving, often referred to as “respite.”

 

At that time, I suggested that in every day, we should have a respite of at least 10 minutes or so, and in every week we should plan for an hour away, if at all possible.

 

Increasing stretches of time call for more time away… in a perfect world!

 

In the years since that post, I’ve had the privilege of presenting workshops about how to structure a mini-retreat, and I’ve continued to talk with care partners about how this method of respite works for them.

 

I’ve also learned from the latest brain science that even very small breaks, when given our full attention, can have a significant positive impact on our health and well-being!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/3059251051/

by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

 

Jennifer Louden’s “Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self –In a Moment, An Hour, Or a Weekend,” helps us think about what we hope to get from our retreat, and how to create one that will really work.

 

She reminds us that you don’t have to have a lot of time or money, nor do you have to actually leave town (or even the house) for a break to refresh and renew your mind, body, and spirit.

 

This is good news for care partners!

 

The basic elements for a retreat include the opening, the retreat itself, and the closing.

 

The opening of the retreat includes an act or ritual to indicate that you are stepping away from your usual day, and entering into a sacred or special space.

 

It might include a prayer or other reading, getting up from your desk, going to a corner of your home suitable for quiet contemplation, or ringing a bell.

 

Once inside this retreat space, which Ms. Louden calls the retreat container, you engage in an activity you’ve planned, and which fulfills or contributes to your intention for the retreat.  If you’re feeling stressed, you’ll want to connect with a feeling of relaxation.  If you’re tired, you may want to do something that will energize you!

 

This could be a few moments of silence, mindfully listening to your breath.  It could be taking out your journal to write some lines about how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking, at that very moment. If you like to draw, your retreat space could hold some art supplies for you to play with.

 

Perhaps 10 minutes of wild dancing will provide an energy (or attitude) adjustment.  I used to do this with my daughters at the end of the school day, and we found it vented all sorts of cranky energy, and made us laugh.  Really hard.

 

Ideally, a retreat will connect with all of the senses, so consider doing something for the body (breathe, stretch, or handle a cool, smooth stone); for the sense of smell (fresh flowers, cinnamon, eucalyptus, a vanilla or pine scented candle); your sense of hearing (the gentle tinkling of a bell, music, or silence); and vision (have something pleasant to look at).

 

The closing is often a mirror or reversal of the opening ceremony.

 

If you started with a bell, end the same way.  If you lit a candle, blow it out.  You are signaling the end of this special time, even when it’s only been ten minutes, and a return to routine.

 

These simple steps bring our awareness to a mental and physical space where we can renew our energies, manage stress, and keep fit for the Elder care journey.

 

Jennifer Louden’s book is a true treasure trove of ideas, providing important information on how to prepare for a retreat of any length, how to create emotional and physical containers for your experience, and consider what to do (and not do!) on your retreat.

 

You’ll want to have your own copy of this book; you can purchase it now on the Crossroads Counseling Bookstore by clicking HERE.

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How do you rest and renew yourself?  What works best for you?

What will you try today?

Leave your comments and share your experience with others!

 

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Lisa Kendall is a geriatric social worker with a private counseling and consulting practice.  She teaches, trains, and facilitates a variety of different retreats. 

Sorrow and Joy in the Season of Light

I am thinking a lot in this season about loved ones who have passed, and in particular about my daughter, Diane, who died almost 17 years ago in a car accident.

Through much of the year I am able to stay busy with meaningful work and beloved Diane Graduationfamily, but there is a bittersweet aura around the winter holidays that forces me to look at my loss and care for my broken heart.

I know others are grieving too.  Perhaps you’ve lost a parent, sibling, or child, or know someone who has.  Most of us have lost friends.  Perhaps you are caring for a loved one whose illness triggers feelings akin to grief.

While we encourage people to celebrate the joys around them, hold fast to memories, and embrace what is present in our ill loved ones’ lives, this is a time to also honor those who have gone before and those who love them.

Every year I remind folks about the Worldwide Candle Lighting hosted by The Compassionate Friends, an organization that offers peer support groups for bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.

The Compassionate Friends group in Binghamton, NY probably saved my life after Diane’s accident.

I encourage you to visit their website at www.compassionatefriends.org, and to participate with me in lighting a candle for our children who have died.

http://www.compassionatefriends.org/News_Events/Special-Events/Worldwide_Candle_Lighting.aspxThis annual ceremony starts at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday evening in December, and by lighting a candle in your time zone, wherever you are, we create a wave of light that ripples around the world for 24 hours.

This year’s Candle Lighting is on Sunday, December 8th.

Thank you to all who have supported me with their encouragement, prayers, and good wishes.

Thank you to all who are doing the hard work of caring for ill loved ones.

It helps to know we do not walk alone.

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