August 2020 Issue
Changing Our Visual Awareness - Seeing Things Differently
How we see things and how we perceive things are both very important in our daily lives. This applies to what we physically see with our eyes and our ability to see things from another person’s perspective. In this month’s article, I’m going to talk about both types of seeing: the physical components to seeing and how that changes with dementia as well as why it is so important to try and see things from another’s perspective.
So, how do we get visual information into our brains? Visual data enters through our eyes, the light rays come through the cornea, cross the fluid in the eyeball and hit the retina, a photo-sensitive screen on the back of the eyeball. The rods and cones embedded in the layers of the back of the eyeball change the light rays into electro-chemical messages. These messages are loaded into the optic nerve that comes out from a center point in the retina of each eye (your blind spot). The information is specifically sorted by quadrants for each eye. Then something extraordinary happens...
A Message from Positive Approach to Care
At PAC - Black Lives Matter
At Positive Approach to Care® (PAC) we strive to be a company that supports and includes everyone involved in the world of dementia. We attempt to seek out and find out about others and adapt our approach, offerings, and care routines to match different cultures, heritages, personal life stories, personal preferences and abilities, and age cohorts. We believe that through an appreciation of each human being and their history, story, and heritage we can more fully support them as they live life with dementia. We believe that helping their families and friends better appreciate what is happening to them, can and does change how life happens.
In all that we do, we are committed to exploring in what ways our perspectives and points of view impact others and either enhance or impede communication and interactions. Dementia certainly affects all races and all people in one way or another. And yet, there is absolutely no denying that institutionalized racial policies and biases have negatively impacted people of color in so many ways for so many years.
Do You See What I See? - Small Changes that Make a Big Difference in the Kitchen for PLwD
In this issue of Positive Approach to Care’s Online Dementia Journal, we are learning that structural and chemical changes in the occipital lobe (where processing of visual data takes place) occur commonly, even in early stages of many types of dementia. For a Person Living with Dementia (PLwD), changes in visual processing skill and speed can lead to challenges navigating a once familiar kitchen space and even provide the potential for serious injury given the safety sensitive nature of kitchen appliances.
A Virtual Summer
PAC Technical Product Support
I like to listen to ambient sounds, tuning into the environments around me. On my visit, I was at the family cottage listening to the waves, wind, and birds. When I meditate and find my happy place, I hear waves, I see beaches to explore, and water reaching to the horizon. I seek out things that will make me smile.
I put together this project to record a little bit of my summer. I know, we’re still looking at a screen, but if you can, take a few moments to yourself. I’m holding some space for you. You can listen to some sounds of summer for a while.
This video uses thunder sounds and flashing imagery.
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Virtual Magic Tricks
Chief Operations Officer
Who doesn’t love watching a good magic trick? Sometimes it can be frustrating that what you see isn’t what you get all of the time. This is especially true with certain forms of dementia that take in visual data and then change what it looks like to the brain.
Choose to allow your brain to have fun and play along, rather than stressing about what is real, if only for today!
In This Issue:
Online Dementia Journal
Positive Approach to Care's Online Dementia Journal (ODJ) is a free monthly e-newsletter designed for families and professional care partners who are looking to grow their awareness and knowledge in order to provide better care for people living with dementia.
The ODJ is a great way to receive updates on when and where you can see Teepa and her Team. All of the articles in the ODJ are created by Teepa Snow, the Positive Approach to Care team, and their affiliates so that you get the latest news on developing programs, training tools, advocacy efforts, and ideas from around the world.
Join the PAC Community of Care!
Learn more or subscribe to the ODJ here.
Do you have a question or situation that you would like to discuss in more detail?
We offer phone consultations with a Positive Approach to Care Certified Consultant, who will gather information and explore strategies together with you.
- The first 30 minute phone consultation is free of charge
- Additional consultations are $45 USD per hour.
This is the Dementia Care Partner Talk Show, an audio only podcast to help you navigate the senior care maze. Learn and laugh with us as we discuss creative solutions and ideas to common and uncommon dementia care challenges, and how to make sense of the senior care industry and options when you're not a professional.
Visit the Dementia Care Partner Talk Show Facebook Page and answer two simple questions to join!
Click here to access them all!
These sessions are designed to provide a safe place where anyone living with dementia can come and share time with Teepa, if they choose. This is an open forum for successes, celebrations, frustrations, challenges, and problem solving is what we hope to offer one another.
View Positive Approach to Care's Live Public Webinar Schedule here.
This corner is designed to provide a forum for sharing among our Certified Community. There will be articles and interviews that will help this community become better connected and more aware of each other and the work that is being done to change the culture of dementia care!
Looking for the Visual in Communication
by Beth A.D. Nolan, Ph.D.,
PAC Director of Research and Policy, with
Tabitha Kay, PAC Community Member
So, you’ve added so many hand motions to your speech that you have added carpal tunnel syndrome to your list of COVID effects, but you still struggle with communication for a few of your people living with dementia. Masks sure do make communication a little more of a challenge in dementia.
Consider this possible aid: a clear mask that could protect yourself and others, while allowing the person living with dementia to see your lips move. PAC Community member, Tabitha Kay did a handy video review of a clear mask.
Straight Up Positive
PAC Lead Mentor Coordinator
During the past few months, stories and ideas that are positive have become more and more important. Finding the silver lining in moments of shifting and discomfort can inspire and lift spirits. We need these moments, even when we are not in a pandemic. That idea of sharing moments and stories that are positive has driven a couple of our PAC mentors to develop and launch a new live Facebook segment called, Straight Up Positive (SUP!) every Tuesday at 7pm on the Teepa Snow Facebook Page.
The goal of the SUP! as a weekly, live Facebook session is highlighting the positive and inspiring things that the greater PAC Certified Community is doing.
Care Partner Corner
The Care Partner Corner is a new addition to the Online Dementia Journal that is just for Care Partners. We will use this section of the journal to share out interesting ideas from Care Partners just like you. If you are interested in contributing a story, photo, or video, please contact Corrie Phillips via email.
My Journey Back to Mom - Recognizing the Team in Family
by Corrie Phillips,
PAC Team Member, with Larry Griner, Care Partner to his mother, Norma
I recently was introduced to Mr. Larry Griner via Molly’s Movement. Larry is a care partner to his mother. You can find him online sharing stories of his daily musical moments with his mom at their home in Baltimore, or in a nearby park where they often spend their afternoons. Larry’s story struck a chord in me. We know that four out of five families will fall apart when a dementia diagnosis is given. As Larry shares his account below, notice the gratefulness he displays towards his brother, recognizing all the hard work and selflessness of his brother who was the primary care partner for many years. It’s just a reminder for all of us to stop and recognize those who have paved the path before us or help us out along the way. What or who do you have to be grateful for today?
Core Team Corner
Welcome to the PAC Core Team Corner. At PAC, we cannot do what we do without help from our friends who are living with dementia. In this section of the Online Dementia Journal, we will share out info from our Core Team. If you are interested in being a part of the PAC Core Team or would like to contribute a story or video, please contact Corrie Phillips via email.
Lauren with a Side of Lewy
by Lauren U,
PAC Core Team Member
These things make me happy:
- Dogs (especially Jonnie and Frosty)
- Chocolate, pizza, kumquats, and coffee
- Babies and children
- Kind gestures
- My marriage
- Laughter and playing
- Time spent with friends
- A cool breeze on an Autumn day
- The smell of sunshine
- A good back massage
- Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird! Live!
In our Community Care Circle, we encourage you to become a voice for dementia care locally and around the world. Share your insights. Be a voice for those who cannot speak. Inspire others to take action!
Use #communitycarecircle in your posts to let folks know you support the full circle of community care and that we are all in this together. Share out your message and tag us on social media.
Articles, interviews, and resources related to music, art, theater, dance, horticulture, animal, and intergenerational programs or services will be explored and shared out in this section. We will continue to have our friend, Mary Sue Wilkinson, share out on the power of musical connections. We are adding in multiple arenas for possible creative and exciting brain and body mobilization and engagement. The fun part will come when we find out the variety of ways in which people are staying active and finding alternatives for what is still possible.
The Story of Margie and Her Favorite Song
by Mary Sue Wilkinson,
Founder of Singing Heart to Heart and Author of "Songs You Know by Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care"
Margie’s gruff and gravelly voice called out from her favorite corner, where she carefully perched on the seat of her walker. Stooped and bent over, her arthritic hands were no longer able to hold the songbook she knew so well. It didn’t matter. Margie knew the words to her favorite song and so many others. She only called out the page number for the sake of the other residents at the assisted living home where she lived.
One day as I arrived, the staff pulled me aside and told me; Margie is on her journey. You might want to go in and see her.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
I consider myself a true visualist. As long as I can remember I have always placed emphasis on what visually stimulates me; vivid colors, shapes, coloring books, nature, movies, television, clothes, make-up, decorating, photographs, paintings, graphics, and the list goes on and on. I ended up marrying a photographer and became a partner in our commercial photography business for 23 years. All that being said, I am excited about writing an article for this month’s Online Dementia Journal since it relates to the occipital lobe - vision.
My intention is to share ideas on how to use photographs to engage a person living with dementia.
Click here to read the article on Pastor Kersten Storch from the Netherlands, as she tries to help people living with dementia during coronavirus, as referenced in our video.
by Reverend Linn Possell,
PAC Speaker and Mentor
When we are struggling with everyday stress, stress of being apart from our loved ones, or stress of this global pandemic, it is important to take a moment to quiet the mind and remember that we live among many sacred spaces. Sacred spaces are places where we feel the presence of the Holy or Divine in our life. A sacred space can be anywhere that helps us connect to the collective conscious, the source of all being, God, or whatever name or word you use. In the Celtic tradition, these places are called thin places, which is the space where the divine and physical meet. Take a moment to think about the sacred spaces in your life and how often you intentionally go to these places during the day.
This is a familiar section supported by Carolyn Lukert. We will be working to expand our sharing of what we will be offering in the next months that relate to consultation or availability of free on-line support. Please feel free to submit your questions or concerns for consideration in this section, via email.
Dear PAC Consultant,
I have a question about something that is becoming more of an issue with my dad, who has been diagnosed with dementia, probably of the Alzheimers type. He does the strangest things with objects. It’s like he has truly forgotten what they are, and what they are used for. A few recent examples; he tries to turn the TV on and off with the cordless phone, and answers the TV remote like it is a telephone. Granted, they do look similar, so I guess they can be easily confused, but the other day, the phone rang and he actually picked up a book that was on the table in front of him, opened it, and then held it up to his ear and spoke into it like a phone. Now, the book and the phone look nothing alike, so what is that all about?
Some other interesting things that seem to fall into this category;
- He often cannot locate/identify items that are right in front of him. For example, he is looking for his wallet, which is right on the table, maybe 3 feet away from him and he doesn’t identify it as the object he is looking for.
- He stares at a common object like his toothbrush, comb, or even a clothing item and has no idea what to do with it. He then does something strange with the object, like put his shirt on as though it was a pair of pants or brush his teeth with a razor. You get the idea.
Do you have an explanation for this? Will it get worse? Furthermore, how can I help him when this happens?
Wondering from Warwick
I was always very close to my mother, and lived only a mile from her as an adult. We saw each other most every day and talked many times a day. I remember the exact moment that I worried about her having dementia. Then, back-to-back strokes threw us a curve ball on her dementia journey and in December of 2016, my family made the gut-wrenching decision to place her in facilitated care.
Care partners knew her as they saw her, but we wanted them to know more, to get a glimpse into her beautiful life story and how much she was loved. The Word Walls brought communication to her in a new way. They became her voice as a conversation starter for care partners to engage with her in a more meaningful way. The first care partner that came in the room just after my Word Wall installation instantly had tears in her eyes and gave my mom a big hug. She said, I should have known. We had pictures and personal belongings throughout her room, but seeing her story was powerful and could not be ignored. That was my goal. I wanted everyone that engaged with my mom to know the wonderful woman she was and would forever be.
This is a paid advertisement, and PAC does not promote or endorse any products not produced by PAC.
The Picture This app gives the classic, card-matching memory game a modern twist. Use your own pictures as the images to match!
When a loved one’s memory declines, the ability to recall names and faces can become a struggle. Picture This goes beyond the simple memory exercising game with the ability to use your own pictures for an interactive experience, which will help connect past memories to present realities. Picture This engages the long-term and short-term memory with the act of finding two matching cards. Identifying the friend or family member in the photo by guessing the correct caption will then trigger recall memory skills. Help facilitate communication with Picture This.
This is a paid advertisement, and PAC does not promote or endorse any products not produced by PAC.
A Message from Teepa
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L
Spirituality and strength are often intertwined. What each person can endure depends on their strength of spirit. Here, Teepa writes about one of the posts to our Facebook page that shows how incredibly strong some spirits are:
A Message from Teepa in the Spirituality Corner
Shikata ga nai
A family shared this story in a Facebook post as we began working with Caregivers for Compromise, this month. This Japanese phrase, shikata ga nai, can be roughly translated to mean: to endure that which you cannot control.
Registration for the 2020 PAC Conference is Open! Need an umbrella to come in out of the rain?
Join us November 15th-17th for the 2nd Annual PAC Conference (held virtually)
∗ Register by September 1st to receive a free t-shirt ∗
This new section will highlight and share out new resources, newly discovered resources, or details about selected PAC resources. This corner will provide information on free and for-a-fee resources. We will share out about PAC on-line and in store products, PAC services, and PAC Certification options, especially our newly expanded PAC Certified Champion offerings, the PAC Annual Conference, and Teepa's Master Courses.
PAC is Here for You
by Keith Icove,
PAC Lead Product Coordinator
Since the goal of the Resources Corner of the ODJ is to highlight useful products and resources (whether from PAC or others), I thought this month I would offer a few suggestions to help you take your next step in learning about dementia as well as learning about PAC resources.
- Download our FREE Dementia Cue Card which contains basic information on identifying dementia, important dementia facts, and tips for assisting those living with dementia.
- Visit our audience specific webpages to see some of the specially selected resources and services available for folks in each category:
This is Your Brain on Ice Cream - Part 2
by Stephanie “Teffie” Landmann, COTA/L,
PAC Support Mentor, Coach, and Trainer
Thank you everyone for your comments on my article last month. Someone asked me to continue the analogy between ice cream and the brain as we discuss the occipital lobe this month. What a great idea, so here goes.
Your occipital lobe is located in the back of your head and its the place that processes visual data. Let me start by showing you some ice cream. Click on the video below:
How many watched the video and thought; Where’s the ice cream? Who was that talking and laughing? How many of you wanted the camera to move so you could see the post card or the bottom of the box? Who wanted to bring back the bacon that looked good?
What You See Isn't Always What You Get!
by Debi Tyler Newsom, OTR/L,
PAC Client Relationship Director
I was poking around in the garden to see how things were growing and a couple bunches of leafy greens caught my eye. It’s kind of fun to watch things come up and I’m not one to mark the rows with tags of what was planted where. After gardening for years, it’s pretty easy to recognize the distinctive leaves of each seedling and figure out what’s growing. Plus, the surprise is kind of nice, since not all of the seeds germinate, despite the seed company’s pledge on that shiny little package. Some of the vegetables have an obvious show of big leaves and blossoms with the promise of a booming zuchinni harvest or the twisting prickly vine with multiple pinky-sized cucumbers. The tomatoes are so tall and heavy with fruit, I had to prop the vine up with a trellis to keep the vine from bending under it’s own weight. Then there were these curious bunches of frilly greens in the row on the end. Hmmm…one of them was quite bushy and a couple others were more sparse, though not unhealthy.
This Series connects caregivers of a person living with dementia to other caregivers around the world. It provides you with a forum where you can talk openly and freely about your challenges. As well, it will help you gain awareness and knowledge of care strategies to help improve interactions with your loved one. Registration is limited to 15 participants.