Resource RoundUp: Useful Tools to Support the Aging Services Industry in Igniting Change

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Jan 12, 2023 1:40:49 PM

Is one of your organization’s goals to invest more in learning, growth and development opportunities for team members?  Or to focus on the customer experience?  Maybe it's to be more of a resource for the industry? 

A key way to begin chipping away at any goal is to gather information that can support strategies to achieve success. 

Here are a few quick resources in these top categories: 
  • Staff Training and Education 
  • Resident or Client Engagement 
  • Family and Professional Caregiver Support 

Staff Training and Education Resources

How Training has Evolved over the Years

Take a listen to a conversation between two industry leaders talking about training and education evolutions and strategies for success. 

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Topics: aging services, Caregiver Training, resources, dementia education, resident engagement, Family Caregiver Education, staff development

Decreasing the Impact of Elder Home Transitions

Posted by Julie Boggess on May 19, 2022 12:00:00 PM

When we think of the word "home" it elicits more emotions and memories than any other word in the English language.  Do we in Aging Services give enough consideration to the emotional impact that leaving home has on elders? Imagine leaving home and believing you will never return. Are we doing enough as caregivers to recognize and acknowledge the impact leaving home has on elders? 






The Impact of Relocation

As we age, the need to relocate may occur several times. People may move from an established home of 40 years to a retirement community with desirable amenities or smaller quarters to reduce the burden of property upkeep. They may even move to be closer to family or a residential care facility. An important consideration for families and caregivers is the possible impact of relocation. What do we do to help?

Our natural responses could be: "It's OK, this is your new home" or "It just takes time to adjust."  Many of us want to respond by giving advice, trying to cheer up our elderly family member, or changing the subject. We mean well, but these responses stifle communication and understanding things from another person’s viewpoint.  No doubt, these are sincere efforts to comfort and reassure, but let's consider how we can take our compassion one step further by employing empathy.  


What is Empathy?

Empathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes in order to imagine what they are going through, understand, and even share their feelings.



According to Stanford University graduate Ted Talker Mike Robbins, empathy is one of the most critical aspects of creating solid relationships, reducing stress, and enhancing emotional awareness.  

His 2021 blog provides the following benefits of empathy:

  • Benefits your health (less stress and less negativity which leads people to be in better shape with stronger immune systems)
  • Leads to a happier life
  • Improves communications skills
  • Leads to teamwork
  • Creates a healthy work environment
  • Transcends personal relationships
  • Decreases negativity


How to Overcome Transition issues with Empathy

  • Ask yourself how you would feel if you were missing home (lonely, sad, scared?) and let yourself feel that for a few minutes.
  • Now observe how the elders feel (angry, sad, worried) by active listening with no interruption.
  • While it can be hard to fully grasp another person's point of view, respect that whatever they're experiencing matters.
  • Then let the person know you understand what was said, for example, "I understand that you are very angry about having to suddenly leave your home" or "I can see that you are very worried about who is taking care of your house while you are away." 

After acknowledging the feelings, you can then continue by validating, "It must be hard to miss your cat so much."  Giving your care partner the time to express feelings and then validating those feelings is the most helpful approach you can offer because you cannot change anything about the reality of the situation.


Can empathy be taught?  Absolutely!  Would your staff benefit from a deeper understanding of empathy?

AGE-u-cate Quality of Life Suite

REVEAL Aging Course Catalogue




About the author:

Julie joined the AGE-u-cate team in 2020 after working 31 years in nursing home operations. Starting in social services and admissions, she moved into management and executive positions in 1990 after obtaining an Illinois nursing home administrator license. Her passion for dementia capable care came early in her career when she had the good fortune to work with and learn from culture change pioneers. Julie is also an adjunct instructor in Gerontology and Aging Services at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. She has two adult children and lives in the Northwest Chicago Suburb of Schaumburg with her husband and three fur babies. She is convinced that she was a lounge singer in a former life.

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Topics: dementia education, employee training, staff development

How Do You Assess Quality Dementia Education?

Posted by Julie Boggess on May 6, 2022 3:44:59 PM


Dementia Competencies and How to Choose Good Education

Hosted by Joan Devine, the Pioneer Network presented an outstanding webinar entitled, "Dementia Competencies and How to Choose Good Education."  The Dementia education universe is vast and varied, and it can be difficult to navigate to the most effective and relevant training.  


The opening message offered by presenter Kim McRae, Founder of "Having a Good Life" and Co-Founder of the Culture Change Network of Georgia is that we should not use "Alzheimer's" as the general term for dementia.  This causes a lot of confusion and marginalizes those living with dementia not related to Alzheimer's.   As leaders, we need to be consistent in and steadfast in understanding this important distinction. 

Jennifer Craft Morgan, Director and Associate Gerontology Professor at Georgia State University made a salient point that education and knowledge acquisition is important, but it must lead to skill-building.   "Surface learning" alone will not change employees' care approaches.  

Improving education and training and developing supports for direct care workers to implement skills in context has the potential to transform the workforce to a dementia-capable, culturally competent workforce. - Jennifer Craft Morgan.

Check out quality education programs provided by AGE-u-cate here: 

AGE-u-cate's Training Programs




So, if change is what we are after, then the first criteria to evaluate is whether the chosen curriculum will result in modifying employee care actions.

Kim McRae, Founder of "Have a Good Life" and Co-Founder of the Culture Change Network of Georgia cautioned listeners to avoid narrowly viewing people living with dementia from the standpoint of loss and deficits.  In doing so, we create stigma, loss of well-being and excess disability.  Training must un-do the "patients vs people" approach of the past and inspire the workforce to see the human being first.  


The speakers then discussed language that should be used in training curriculum, because words absolutely matter.  

"Living with dementia vs suffering with dementia"

"Responding to stress reactions vs managing unwanted behaviors"

 Just as important as the content is the delivery.  The presenters asked attendees to think back to their last training and identify the things that the instructor/training did that didn't support learning. 

Helpful list of what not to do

  • There is no interaction with the learners or engagement (lecture only)
  • Content was not relevant to the work of the learners
  • There is no hands-on application
  • Old and stale material
  • Trying to cover too much information at once
  • There is no way to experience the learning

Another critical point is that training should not be one-and-done.  Learning must be consistent and ongoing, and reinforced by leadership.  Leaders need to excite their employees!  Talk with them about what they learned and how it can be applied to achieve person-centered care and improve the quality of life for elders.  


In summary, training curriculum as offered by Ms. McRae and Dr. Morgan should: 

  1. Include contemporary best practice language with positive messaging.
  2. Result in skill-building of care team members.
  3. Offer resources to enable leadership to reinforce the learning and drive change.
  4. Be Interactive and engaging to keep employees interested in continued learning.
  5. Involve all care-partners, not just the direct care workers.

Many thanks to the Pioneer Network and presenters for this critical and timely information.  


About the author:

Julie joined the AGE-u-cate team in 2020 after working 31 years in nursing home operations. Starting in social services and admissions, she moved into management and executive positions in 1990 after obtaining an Illinois nursing home administrator license. Her passion for dementia capable care came early in her career where she had the good fortune to work with and learn from culture change pioneers. Julie is also an adjunct instructor in Gerontology and Aging Services at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. She has two adult children and lives in the Northwest Chicago Suburb of Schaumburg with husband and three fur-babies. She is convinced that she was a lounge singer in a former life.

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Topics: dementia education, employee training, staff development

Here's Why Dementia Live®'s Flexibility Stands Out

Posted by Pam Brandon on Jan 14, 2022 9:00:00 AM

In dementia simulation programming, there's a lot to say about what makes Dementia Live stand out. Since its launch in 2015, the team here at AGE-u-cate® has spent more time listening to our client partner's needs than talking. The result?

A program that is indeed what our tag line says: Proven. Powerful. Effective. Tag lines can get wordy, so we'll discuss another significant benefit:

Dementia Live is incredibly flexible.

As empathy and skill-building training, Dementia Live brings together a transformational experience, care partners empowerment session, and practical tools to professionals and families across the aging care spectrum. The team at AGE-u-cate believes that EVERYONE needs to better understand dementia.

We are at the crossroads of unprecedented growth in our aging population, which will continue to affect every aspect of our society. Therefore, aging and dementia education is necessary for breaking the cycle of ageism and exclusion for persons living with cognitive changes. Our provider partners are key catalysts to offer this critical dementia awareness experience and education to the world.

Dementia Live coaches receive organized, easy to deliver training which allows them (provider organizations) to take the Dementia Live program beyond the walls of their own organization. We provide the tools and resources to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, such as a virtual version of the Experience developed in response to the COVID pandemic. This Virtual Dementia Live Experience allowed providers to continue to use the program as an outreach education tool while social distancing restrictions were in place. Here's what The Alzheimer and Parkinson Association of IRC had to say about AGE-u-cate's pivot to a Virtual Experience during Covid. 

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Topics: AGE-u-cate Training Institute, Dementia Live, Dementia Live®Training, leadership, dementia education, Dementia Awareness, dementia care training, Dementia simulation

Proven. Powerful. Essential.

Posted by Pam Brandon on Jan 12, 2022 3:00:00 PM

Dementia training is serious business. As we grapple with the exponential growth of people living with dementia, aging services providers are looking closely at programs that will improve outcomes for their residents, clients, staff, families and support business goals.

The AGE-u-cate team has been hard at work since the launch of Dementia Live® in 2015 to deliver a program that meets the complex needs across the spectrum of aging services to serve better those living with dementia and their care partners.

Integrated by over 800 organizations and agencies in the United States, Canada, and Australia, Dementia Live® has a robust value in the aging services industry. This evidence-informed training program is guided by science-based experiential learning and microlearning strategies. Placing the learner directly in touch with the realities of living with dementia, they gain more profound levels of understanding and knowledge and receive practical skill-building tools and techniques that effectively improve care and quality of life for care partners.


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Topics: AGE-u-cate Training Institute, Dementia Live®Training, leadership, dementia education, dementia care training, Dementia simulation

Concerned about Census?  Think Outside the Box!

Posted by Pam Brandon on Oct 13, 2021 4:55:22 PM

Marketing Team - are you ready for 2022? I suspect you are either shaking your head in agreement or feeling stuck in planning what to do next.

Senior living providers have had a plateful of challenges to address, and one that ranks high on the priority list is to rebuild census.

Let’s talk about how to differentiate yourself from the crowd, build quality relationships that result in move-ins, and create an ongoing stream of referrals.

I started in the aging and caregiver space over 27 years ago as a family caregiver.  Almost three decades later what I needed most then is exactly the same as what study after study supports is desperately needed now - education!  

Be Your Community Resource

I talked in my last blog about the importance of community collaboration - that is, a care community's collaboration within their geographic region. For example, working with a local Dementia-Friendly Initiative, Alzheimer's Association or Parkinson's Foundation, or others working hard to build widespread awareness of critical aging issues. This helps to expand community relationships, build awareness and develop connections with referrals, and all the while contributing to the greater good.

The need today for effective dementia education is through the roof!

Marketing team - add to your toolbox a "Wow" experience to help people better understand life with dementia.

2022 will be a year for:

  • A game-changing referral source strategy.
  • Families and professionals seeking out in-person activities, conferences, education, etc.
  • Senior care providers to offer something different that will help engage and connect with their referral sources in more meaningful ways.
  • Communities to invest in programs, activities, and events that will engage people and set them apart from their competition.

Become a Dementia® Live Coach

AGE-u-cate®️ Training Institute's highly acclaimed Dementia Live®️ Simulation Experience is the game-changer. It's what people talk about a year after they've gone through the experience. It offers the care community representative the opportunity to speak one-on-one with participants, build a meaningful relationship, and in the process, provide one of the most powerful dementia education experiences available today.

As much as your staff needs Dementia Live®, your community does as well. This program offers the benefits of flexibility, practical tools, and resources to allow senior care providers to use as staff training AND community outreach education. And if in-person is not an option, the program includes an online option!

"Dementia Live is hands-down, our most valuable census building tool. Beyond its incredible educational value, it's our #1 marketing investment." ED, Texas.

AGE-u-cate is on a global mission to ignite change!  Want to join us?  

If you want to learn more about having Dementia Live® in your sales toolbox, contact us today!

Free Demo

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Topics: Dementia Live®Training, dementia education, Dementia Awareness, Dementia simulation, Sales, improving census, Marketing

5 Reasons Why the Community Needs YOU Now More than Ever

Posted by Pam Brandon on Oct 11, 2021 4:18:27 PM

Let's be honest. 2021 felt like we had our foot on the gas AND brake at the same time. Make plans, cancel plans, make plans, reschedule plans. Make PLANS? Uh, let's wait and see. Sound familiar?  

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Topics: dementia training, dementia education, Dementia-Friendly neighborhoods, Dementia Awareness, Dementia simulation

Mildred's Lessons: Final Thoughts

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 8, 2021 9:24:53 AM
Lessons I've learned from grandmama Mildred are endless, but I'll finish with sharing a few connected to her final days.  These two stories, while representative of her final days, also speak to the culmination of Mildred's life: unconditional love, endless laughter and unwavering faith.  
  • Be ok with just being compassionately present. Towards the end of my grandmothers life, my family was all gathered at my aunt's house where my grandmother lived her last days.  In those final days, grandmama Mildred was in and out of awareness that we were there. On this day, we had taken her outside to lay in a swing - the sun was shining and there was a wonderful breeze with birds singing.  She loved being in nature!  My mom was helping her eat ice cream and trying to get grandmama to engage with us. “Is it good, mama?”  “Here’s some ice cream” “Is it good?” is what my mama kept saying, over and over.  After a bit my grandmother all of the sudden opened her eyes, looked at my mom and said in a snarky tone, “Is it good? Is it good?”.  In her always hilarious way, she was telling my mama to shut up and let her enjoy the ice cream!  Not that my mom was trying to be annoying - we were all so desperate to make sure grandmama knew we were there.  After that moment, we knew she could always feel (and hear!) us! 

    Lesson learned: sometimes just sitting quietly is enough.  The person can feel your presence through touch and a thoughtful environment set-up. 
  • Look for the signs, they often come at unexpected times.  On the day grandmama Mildred took her last breath, my family was gathered around her bed.  It was a hospital bed we rented and we had it pushed up to the king size bed in the room.  On the king bed was me, my mom, several of my aunts and my 2 sisters.  We were playing hymns and music that my grandmama loved.  On Eagle's Wings, a familiar Catholic hymn was playing and as we were all singing the chorus - "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings...", my grandmother began to raise up.  It was a chaotic few moments until we realized that my aunt was laying on the hospital bed remote!  We all burst into hysterics and knew that was grandmama Mildred, playing one last joke on everyone.  And bringing laughter into the room as she always did. 

    Lesson learned: The time will come to say goodbye.  Even in that moment, find joyful ways to connect and cope.

Dying and death is often viewed as a scary and sad turn of events.  And while losing someone we love is sad, the truth is that we're all going to die at some point.  There, I said it!  A recent post I ran across on LinkedIn shared the concept of maraṇasati, meaning mindfulness of death.  It's a Buddhist meditation practice that often includes incorporating various visualization and contemplation techniques focused on the nature of death.  From what I could gather, the intent is to bring more awareness to your present moment and encourage you to live life as if there is no tomorrow.  No regrets!  And if you practice Christianity, you believe that with death also comes eternal life.  There is comfort in knowing the rest of your days will be spent with Jesus and others who have gone before you.  For my family, we take comfort in the latter.  And that is something that my grandmama Mildred instilled in all of us.  And I'm lucky that those roots continue to run deep through my mama.  If you're reading this, mama, grandmama would be so proud of how you continue to guide our family in strong faith!  

I'm also intrigued by maranasati and look forward to researching that more.  How do you cope and find comfort in times of loss?  There is no right way, and sharing may help others!  Be sure to leave a comment.  And, if you'd like more information on death and dying, check out a previous blog or reach out to me.

For the article I saw on LinkedIn about maranasati, click here.  And if you need a "lift" today, here's the song, On Eagle's Wings!  

To view the previous post introducing my grandmother and our family's journey caring for her, check it out here.

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Topics: dementia care, dementia education, peoplefirst, caregiversupport, stronger together, dyinganddeath

A Family's Journey to Better Care for People Living with Dementia

Posted by Laura Ellen Christian on Sep 1, 2021 9:09:36 AM

I mentioned my grandmother briefly in my last post and I would love to share more about her!  Her name was Mildred and this year she would have celebrated her 101st year around the sun.  She was was the pillar of our family and barrel of fun!  I can see her infectious smile now, dancing in the kitchen singing "If I'd known you were coming, I would've baked you a cake"!  Most of my memories of grandmama Mildred involve her journey living with dementia.  She taught our family so much in the 8+ years she lived with dementia.  Her sense of humor never ceased and was a critical piece in allowing grace to shine bright through it all.  And boy did we need grace - we didn't always get it right.  That's life.  

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Topics: dementia care, dementia, caregiving, Caregiver Training, family caregivers, Compassion, Family Education, dementia training, dementia education, Dementia Awareness, communication skills, education and training

Remembering William (Bill) Keane: Always the Teacher

Posted by Julie Boggess on Aug 19, 2021 9:39:05 AM

There will be a wonderful gathering of Aging Services professionals on Saturday, August 21 in Chicago to celebrate the life of our friend, colleague, and passionate advocate for dementia capable care, William Keane.  Bill is one of the many mentors who shaped my philosophies and personal mission in eldercare, and I am honored to be one who will share how Bill continued to teach me, even in the later stages of dementia. In Bill's honor, I would like to share a snippet, because it is a reminder to all of us that wisdom still lives inside a person with dementia.

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Topics: AGE-u-cate Training Institute, dementia friendly, Senior Care Industry, Pioneer Network, Alzheimer's Association, professionals, Leaders, elder care, dementia education, Advocacy, Dementia Awareness, Parkinson's Diseases

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