In previous blogs, I've discussed the proven benefits of Dementia Live® as a powerful and effective experiential foundational training experience.
To elevate dementia care practices, care partners must first understand dementia and how persons with dementia feel challenged with cognitive and sensory changes. Dementia Live® simulates cognitive and sensory impairment, giving participants first-hand experience living with dementia.
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.
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.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the new year. Of course, I always look forward to dreaming of new adventures, possibilities, and the opportunity to open a new chapter. But, I've got to be perfectly honest. I'm REALLY looking forward to 2022!
I'm guessing that most of you who are reading this, no matter where you fall in the aging services spectrum, would have to agree the last umpteen months have been a doozy!
What I don't want to do is belabor the point. In fact, I'm not even going to bring up anything about what we've been through because that's all we've been talking about for far too long!
Starting all over again is not that bad...because when you restart, you get another chance to make things right.
When we restart, we put things in a new perspective, learning lessons from the past. But, when we look through a different lens, the ideas and creativity that start flowing are incredible! We've had the opportunity at AGE-u-cate to do just that. We decided late last year that we would look beyond the circumstances beyond our control and put our innovative heads together to do things better.
Don't let Fear and Uncertainty Stop You.
Being Stuck is about the most frustrating feeling in the world. Getting UNSTUCK is exciting. It means you are moving forward, even if in baby steps. Taking small steps is often hard for me, but thanks to a great team, they remind me that it's sometimes essential - and I'll be doggone - they are right! When we embarked on our Reveal Aging Micro-learning initiative, we had to talk with our partners, garner feedback, and take the time necessary to do it right.
Failure is Part of the Process.
Failure is NOT the opposite of success. It's a part of Sucess! How many times have you gotten off the ground with a new program or initiative only to hit a brick wall? Probably more times than you can count. As we know, things happen that are out of our control, and sometimes we don't think things through. It's Okay. Start again, and learn from your mistakes.
Stay Focused, and Keep your Eye on the End Game.
If you are in aging services, you have a mission, and it's an important one. What better work to do than that which has a higher calling? Is it easy? No. Can you solve all the challenges that lie ahead of you? Of course not. Can you make a positive difference in the lives of others? You bet, and that's where you need to keep your eye set.
We need to look ahead to all that we can do better in 2022. Right around the corner lies a world of possibilities for all of us to work together and make a difference in the lives of those whom we serve.
Let's Press Restart! Refocus and Get Started because 2022 is right around the corner - thank goodness!
Although my personal story of caregiving goes back decades, the message has not changed. My sweet mother, Jeanette, lived with Parkinson's Disease for many years. Our journey together as care partners included the highs of our incredible mother-daughter relationship growing even closer and the lows of experiencing the emotional roller-coaster of managing a disease that is ever-changing and often mysterious.
At 85, Jeanette's health had declined significantly due to the progression of her PD and complications from a broken hip. In addition, my sister was taking care of our mom in her home following a rehab stay, and the stress of 24/7 caregiving responsibilities took a toll on her physical and emotional health. It was time for a change, and a decision needed to be made relatively quickly.
Visiting one care community after another, I soon became embattled with my own emotions as I toured beautifully decorated buildings led by cheery marketing professionals. All the while, I was an emotional train wreck. What was truly important? I had some real soul searching to do.
A friend suggested I visit a residential care community that her dad had been in, so I arranged for a meeting with the owners, one of who was a registered nurse. The home was not in the most convenient area to my home, but was adequate for my sister and me to visit with a drive for both of us. The neighborhood was eclectic but safe. As I drove to the house, my thoughts were on a single track.
Entering the house, one of the care team members greeted me with a warm welcome and hug. The place was lively and bright, though far from fancy. Sitting areas in the large living room included residents, care partners, and family members.
As I made my way to another sitting room to meet with the owner, I noted the care team busy making lunch and chatting about the new recipe for the day. They stopped to say hello and asked if I'd like to stay. How could I pass up a yummy-looking Mexican dish?
As I sat down to talk, I could feel my emotions bubbling, and sure enough, tears started streaming. My decision of where my precious mama would live out her days played heavy on my heart. What did I want for her, for me, and the rest of my family? After all, we were all in this together.
All of the "things" that I thought were important started racing through my head. Within a short driving distance? Not really. Amenities? Somewhat limited. And this sounds so silly now, but at the time, I thought to myself, "this is just not mom's decorating style."
As I pulled myself from the depths of my crying episode, I felt incredible compassion and understanding embracing me. As I explained mom's health needs and history, it became clear what I was seeking.
Beyond the basics of cleanliness, safety, nursing care, I wanted my mom to be loved when I wasn't there. That sounds like a big ask, right?
What feels abundant right now is trauma, stress, and burnout. Heading up an Aging Services organization during this time has been no easy task. At AGE-u-cate, we have tried to offer nuggets of support and encouragement to help infuse some hope in what feels like a long nightmare.
With so much out of our control these days, there is something we can control, and that is how we relate to each other. Kindness should always be a part of a leadership philosophy, but when we feel pushed to the edge, kindness might take a backseat.
Kindness can be defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Seems like a fairly simple and straightforward way to interact with others. In fact, ABC news reported last year on research that informs us that being kind pays off. Being kind makes us feel better and healthier, and is wired into our survival. Oxford anthropologist Oliver Curry believes that we are kind because under the right circumstances we all benefit from kindness.
Many Aging Services leaders are working tirelessly to maintain and even rebuild a positive culture within their care communities. The question is whether this is possible to do during a lingering pandemic? A McKnight's Long-Term Care News article opined that it is possible, in spite of a pandemic.