Here are some happenings from AFA member/associate member organizations across the nation:
At an age when most people are looking forward to retirement, Judy Berry dove headfirst into a second career. Frustration with the fact that her mother, who was living with dementia, was repeatedly kicked out of care facilities because of aggression, Berry thought there had to be another way.
"I knew my mom well enough to realize that the reason she was acting out was that she had needs that weren't being met," Berry recalls. "For example, sometimes, she just wanted someone to sit with her and keep her company, but she wasn't able to express that, so as the caregivers were leaving the room, she might trip them."
This realization-that underlying emotional and spiritual needs of individuals with dementia manifest themselves in aggression or other forms of acting out since people with dementia often cannot communicate what they are feeling-led Berry to research other approaches to deliver compassionate dementia care and ultimately, start her own care facility, the Lakeview Ranch, in Dassel, Minn. The Ranch serves individuals who have been unable to remain in other facilities because of aggression and other behavioral issues.
Now, some 15 years later, Berry has sold the ranch and consults with families, professionals and communities, sharing her philosophy of dementia care.
The SPARK! program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis., offers free, engaging experiences for people with mild to moderate memory loss and their caregivers and friends. Through the SPARK! Program, individuals cook, visit galleries, attend performances by visiting artists, and create projects inspired by the works of art they've seen.
The cooking program is something that Jennifer Balge, education specialist, at the Center counts as one of her favorite activities. While it can be difficult for individuals and their caregivers to cook together at home because of supervision or safety concerns, this program pairs one volunteer with each of the 15-20 participants. The result is an enriching experience for the participant and the volunteers. For the participants, the activity often "sparks" muscle memory and transports them back to the familiar tasks of the kitchen. In addition, the activity also creates conversation, as many participants may be reminded of cooking with or for their families and share those experiences.
"I love being part of this community," said Balge. "It's rewarding to be able to help people in a way that they didn't expect."
The Town of Huntington Adult Day Care has been serving clients in Suffolk County, N.Y. since 1984. Offering a full day of activities, hot lunch and snacks, the center is open Monday-Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Participants enjoy coffee, tea and continental breakfast items upon arrival and then begin the day's activities, including current events, chair exercise, sing-alongs, painting, computer time, and cognitive activities, such as word games and trivia.
In the summer, the group takes several trips to the Centerport Senior Beach House and enjoys activities on a covered porch overlooking the water.
Transportation is provided free of charge to Huntington residents, via the Huntington Area Rapid Transit (HART) buses.
Project Lifesaver International (PLI) has been a member of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) since 2004. PLI's program is designed to help locate and safely return home individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia or other cognitive disorders that may cause them to wander. The program uses a combination of radio technology-via a custom-fit transmitter worn on the wrist or ankle-and specially-trained search and rescue teams to accomplish its mission of "bringing loved ones home."
Through the years, AFA and PLI have worked together on several research projects and advocated for Alzheimer's funding. AFA has awarded grants to local PLI agencies and this past May donated $12,500 to PLI to expand its services throughout New York, via PLI's new collaboration with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice's Office of Public Safety.
Next month, Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA's president and CEO and Josie DiChiara, AFA's senior vice president, external relations, will attend the 12th Annual Project Lifesaver Conference to educate PLI members about the Foundation and its national memory screening initiative, as well as to discuss the ongoing relationship between AFA and PLI.
Last week, AFA awarded a $5,000 grant to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office in Punta Gorda, Fla. The group will use the grant to expand its Project Lifesaver program, which . The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office has been a Project Lifesaver member since 2009.
Tammy Wilkie, community affairs specialist at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, leads the program there. She is constantly out in the community educating people about the program, and giving weekly speeches at schools and other local organizations.
"We provide people peace of mind and assistance," she said.
Currently, there are 14 people enrolled in the program. According to Wilkie, approximately 8,000 people in Charlotte County have Alzheimer's disease. The group will use the grant money to purchase more tracking wristbands so that they can help more families with loved ones who are at risk of wandering.
Karen Peterson founded Move with Balance, an exercise program designed to help prevent falls and falls-related injuries in seniors in 2005. Upon receiving a grant from Alzheimer's Foundation of America, Peterson set about creating a version of Move with Balance designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
For this program, Move with Balance teamed with Maui Adult Day Care, to recruit 10 seniors who have Alzheimer's or a related dementia and also recruited 10 loving and compassionate fit seniors to serve as their mentors. Each class begins with a 10-minute icebreaker. Mentees arrive and sit at a coloring table with their mentors participating in activities such as writing with both hands at the same time. This gives mentees a chance to connect with their mentors before heading into the classroom setting for the main program.
The mentees feel safe with their mentors and have formed warm and caring relationships. Many recognize their mentors week after week.
CJE SeniorLife's Lieberman Center staff has utilized funds from an AFA bi-annual grant to expand the scope of its Purposeful Engagement Program (PEP), which serves more than 80 people living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias.
Specifically, CJE created thematic sensory stations in sitting areas to engage residents with late-stage dementia through tactile items, photographs and different aromas. One station includes life-like baby dolls, a cradle with a mobile, a dresser with vintage baby clothes and blankets, bilingual children's books, scented lotion and baby powder air freshener, and speakers that play lullabies. In weekly nurturance groups led by social workers, residents care for the babies by reading them stories, feeding them, singing to them, and rocking them to sleep.
CJE also used the $5,000 grant to educate staff and family members on sensory-based approaches to care.
Grace Healthcare, a network of 42 skilled nursing, assisted living and rehabilitation facilities, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., recently joined the AFA family. Grace Healthcare facilities are located in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Grace's overarching philosophy is rooted in the golden rule – "to treat everyone from residents to family members to employees the way in which they want to be treated."
In addition to providing its clients access to AFA's resources and services Grace Healthcare is planning extensive fundraising efforts in support of AFA.
For residents at Silver Ridge Memory Support community in Gretna, Neb., activities include some "basics" like exercise classes and religious services—and then some.
It also offers visits from a beautician, ice cream socials a monthly on-site petting zoo provided by a local ranch, and monthly courtyard parties, each with a different theme.
In June, it held a courtyard party that was a sock hop, featuring 50s music, burgers, fries and shakes. The facility's life enrichment coordinator, Julie Brown, is even hoping to round up a poodle skirt so she can deliver the food on roller skates.
"We try to offer activities that take our residents back to the times they most remember and experiences they've enjoyed," she said.
Phoebe Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Allentown, Pa., has achieved AFA's "Excellence in Care" distinction for all of its specialized memory care programs at seven senior adult continuum of care communities throughout Pennsylvania. This marks the first time an organization has applied for and attained system-wide fulfillment of AFA's national standards for dementia care settings.
"We pursued the EIC designation as a way to validate the quality services we provide to individuals with dementia and as a valuable opportunity to benefit from the expertise provided by AFA through the survey process," said Kelly O'Shea Carney, Ph.D., CMC, executive director of the Phoebe Center for Excellence in Dementia Care. "To be acknowledged as the first organization to achieve system-wide Excellence in Care distinction is simply an added benefit to participating in the process."
Pets are truly members of the family and can have multiple therapeutic benefits with older individuals, including people with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses. Recognizing the powerful impact of pets and in an effort to help seniors in need, the Sno-Valley Senior Center and Adult Day has teamed up with the Humane Society to offer pet food to low-income individuals.
For a donation of $1 for Sno-Valley Senior Center and Adult Day members and $2 for non-members, qualifying seniors whose pets are spayed or neutered can pick up dog and cat food at the center every month. For more information, visit http://www.snovalleysenior.org/.
Arts & Minds recently offered an exciting, free program for people with early stage dementia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The program provided five afternoon trips in May and June to the museum for inspiring conversations and multi-sensory experiences led by a qualified museum educator. Each participant was paired with a trained companion volunteer who met with the individual and his/her family prior to the program kick-off.
Volunteers picked up participants at their homes and escorted them to and from the museum. Transportation to the museum was provided.
Great things happen when neighbors team up! The Mobile Art Program (MAP) and Mike's Place: A Program of Meals on Wheels and More, two of AFA's Austin Texas-based member organizations, have collaborated to provide art activities to individuals with dementia as well as respite to their caregivers.
Mike's Place has a different theme each week at its twice-weekly day program for people with dementia, and MAP tailors art projects to that theme. Recent activities have included "make your own bookmarks," which was timed to back to school; and painting in the style of Andy Warhol's shoe series. One attendee, Alice, (below) created a painting she titled, "Alice in Shoeland."
Nine pairs of culinary professionals from Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services (OPRS) communities cooked up a storm on March 8 as they feverishly competed for gold, silver and bronze medals in the organization's second annual cooking challenge.
For the competition, the chefs are challenged to prepare, cook, and present a meal (entrée and side dish) that follows nutritional guidelines and costs less than $7–-all in 75 minutes or less.
Chefs Stacy Chesney and Patrick Young of OPRC's Swan Creek Retirement Village in Toledo grabbed the gold. Their winning dish was Pan-Smoked Venison Quesadilla with Fire-Roasted Corn, Sweet Red Pepper and Tomatillo Salsa with a Salvadoreña Crema Blue Cheese Sauce.
Among the competitors were the dynamic duo known as "The Killer B's," Chef Brian Lippiatt and Sous Chef Brian West of OPRS' Rockynol Retirement Community.
For the past three years, the Jewish Museum, located in New York City, has offered a monthly program for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, JM Journeys.
JM Journeys enables participants to make personal connections with original works of art through discussions, art-making, and multi-sensory activities. The program, which is open to the public, is facilitated by Jewish Museum educators in the galleries and art studio.
Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area, Baton Rouge, La., hosted its 21st Annual Education Conference on Alzheimer's Disease: "Discovering Gems in Alzheimer's Disease" in Baton Rouge, La. on March 18. Renowned dementia expert Teepa Snow delivered the keynote address.
Clients at Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County, Tyler, Tex., look forward to mid-week! Through the "Wonderful Wednesdays Day Club," the organization's volunteers are paired with clients—aka "best friends"—for the day to learn the person's life story and participate in activities together.
On January 8, for example, "Wonderful Wednesday" featured a "Get Fit" theme, focusing on healthy food choices, exercise, socializing, and other tips to help keep the body and soul fit.
Several of AFA's member organizations in various states hosted creative celebrations this holiday season. Among them, Thelma's Place, Canby, Ore., created fake snowballs and had an indoor snowball fight.
Back east, Silver Fox Senior Social Club, Baldwinsville, N.Y., took an artistic approach to seasonal festivities, making crafts with children from Elden Elementary School.
In Milwaukee, Wis., clients at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Inc. performed for their families, staff and community friends at a Christmas Concert.
Attendees of the day program at Respite Care Charleston (S.C.) enjoyed a visit from Santa himself.
The Alzheimer's/Dementia Connection of Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., held a heartfelt "Tree of Reflection Lighting Ceremony" on December 1 that brought together the organization's board and staff, and the community.
Held for the seventh year, the ceremony honors and remembers loved ones affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia through stars placed on the Tree of Reflection.
Among those who spoke at the ceremony was Michele Kirkpatrick, a volunteer, who shared how her mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease taught her to find the silver lining in every situation.
A New York University student recently turned the lens on Arts & Minds, a New York nonprofit organization that engages individuals with dementia and their caregivers in artwork at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The video captures the essence of the organization as it follows the participation of a couple, who have been married 47 years, and the impact the program has had on their quality of life.
Alzheimer's Family Services Center, Huntington Beach, Calif., recently introduced a new all-female ambassador group: "Women of One Mind."
The goal of this new group is to build awareness of the challenges related to Alzheimer's disease and to bring attention to the resources and support available to female caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
Congratulations to Connie Siskowski, RN, Ph.D., director of the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP), a program of the American Association of Caregiving Youth, Boca Raton, FL on her nomination as a 2012 CNN Hero, a year-long initiative that honors everyday people who are changing the world.
CYP, the first program of its kind in the nation, provides direct services to children who care for ill, disabled or elderly family members, including skills building classes and support groups in school, recreational outings, and connecting families with resources.
As a former child caregiver herself, Siskowski has a special understanding of the unique challenges these young people face. Click here to view her story.
New York Memory Center and the Alzheimer's Poetry Project, both Brooklyn-based organizations, in June unveiled a new Memory Arts Café that offers free arts events for people living with Alzheimer's disease, their caregivers and the general public.
Building on the Alzheimer's Café movement in Europe that started in 1997, the Memory Arts Café places the creativity of people navigating cognitive impairment at the project's core. The goal is to provide education, empowerment and energy—offering residents a place for personal enrichment.
The free series takes place on the second Wednesday of each month, and includes light refreshments and the opportunity to chat with the guest artists. It is funded in part by a grant from AFA.
The MetLife Foundation in March awarded its Creativity and Aging in America Leadership Award to two AFA members out of three state-of-the-art programs recognized in each health and wellness, lifelong learning and community engagement.
The AFA member recipients are: