December 2020 Issue

Habits and Habituation - Risks and Benefits
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA

Habits, we all have them. Good or bad, we all have them. It’s easier to focus on the bad habits, though, isn’t it? If I could just stop _______, I would be so much better off. If I could do _______ less, I would be happier. Have you ever stopped to think about the other habits in your life that are actually beneficial?

What is a habit?

  • It’s something we do without thinking.
  • It accounts for about 45% of what most of us do each day.
  • It reduces the need for fuel, it’s an energy conservation strategy used by your brain and body.
  • It’s something that allows us to do the routine, while we focus on some other thought, activity, or issue.
  • It’s something that your brain has established an automatic pathway to complete.
  • It actually has a chemical way of keeping your cortical brain tuned out, unless there is an emergency override.
  • It’s based on cues that you receive from the environment in some way.
  • It can be either a good or a bad automated routine, and once established it is very difficult to change, unless something triggers the change.

A habit is an automatic sequence of actions, or patterns of behavior that happen every time a cue is noted and a sense of like, want, or need arises. A desire to have something change or happen.

Continue reading to gain a better understanding of habits

Four Laws of Creating and Sticking with Good Habits
by Valerie Feurich,  
PAC Product Marketing and Technology Lead 

Have you ever tried to form a new habit, but somehow couldn’t make it last?

Have you given up on making New Year’s resolutions, as previous ones simply didn’t stick?

You likely answered Yes. You likely will also not be surprised when I tell you, that you are not alone with this. But do you know why it is so hard to form new habits?

It’s simple, in some vital factors of habit creation, evolution plays against us. As author James Clear explains in his book Atomic Habits, one of the most difficult parts in creating a new habit is that it requires many tiny changes, repeated over and over again, to achieve maximum results. Therefore, forming a new habit is a long-term endeavor, something we aren’t biologically programmed for.

Continue reading to learn about the Four Laws of Behavior Change

What a Conference! Virtual Under the Umbrella
by Shelly Edwards, MLS,  
PAC Business Development Coordinator 

Positive Approach to Care® (PAC) went virtual in 2020 for their annual conference and it was a success. Utilizing Whova and Zoom, Teepa and her PAC Team were able to meet for three days with over 700 attendees, spanning eight countries, and included more than 80 people living with dementia (PLwD). Even though we couldn’t meet face to face, many connections were made, friendships were formed, and new information was learned. The feeling that we are a family/community of people working together to change the world’s view of dementia and people living with dementia was apparent again this year.

For those who like numbers, the graphic below shows our activity on Whova, the app used for our virtual conference, over the three days.

In addition to this activity on Whova, we held 28 sessions in Zoom where over 720 registered attendees participated.

Continue for more 2020 conference highlights and feedback

In This Issue:

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COVID-19 and its Impact on People Living and Dying with Dementia in Congregate Living
by Dan Bulgarelli,  
PAC Chief Financial Officer 

Over the past nine months, all of our lives have been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. School buildings are closed or running differently. Businesses are closed or running at smaller capacity. In-person events, at least for us at PAC, have all been cancelled or turned into virtual happenings. All of that and I haven’t even mentioned the over 250,000 lives lost. Perhaps the biggest changes have come to those living or working in senior living communities.

Deciding to move into a senior living community is a difficult decision, even before the current pandemic. The fear of lost independence, the sadness of leaving a place that has been home for years, or moving away from friends and family all play a role. However, senior living communities can be a wonderful place to live with a myriad of activities, new friends to meet, and the caring people that work there.

With the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders issued by many states, people haven’t been able to visit their loved ones in nine months, the isolation people feel is overwhelming. Not only is this difficult emotionally, but many family members were still primary caregivers as they were the only ones that could get their husband/wife/mom/dad to eat, take medication, or tackle other daily necessities.

Continue reading the entire article

Preview the 2021 Positive Approach To Care® Calendar with Mentor Trainings, Certified Community Events, and Public Virtual Events.

We are currently taking registrations for certification courses held in the first quarter of 2021, from January through March.

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.

by Lauren U,
PAC Core Team Member

The conference, oh the conference. There were over 700 attendees! So many people who want to learn about dementia and dementia care. This makes me happy. I spent my time doing all sorts of things but mainly I answered a lot of questions and my PAC family told a lot of Lauren stories. It's all good though sometimes embarrassing. I met many people for the first time. I was glad to see those I've seen before. Lots of folks know me as Teepa's friend, some think I'm family, I think I'm kind of both.

      Continue reading Lauren's thoughts on the PAC Virtual Conference

      Our Alzheimers Journey -Part Two

      by Gwendolyn Pines

      Steve and I continued the same general routine as before the disease. I kept him busy with various outings and activities. Sometimes it was hard to figure out what to do, so we ran errands. This worked well for a couple of years. He was so desperate to be with me that he went with me to meetings, even though he was not an active participant. We even attended a state senate committee meeting together.

      The first attempts to leave Steve with someone else were traumatic for us both. I had a friend stay with him while I went to my first caregivers support group. As I was preparing to go, he begged me not to leave. Told me he was going to get a divorce. Told her to get out of his house. Threatened to call the police and other unacceptable comments. My friend left the room for a while as he paced around and cooled down; then they had a nice conversation until I returned. Another time one of the home care aides took the keys from the hook beside both outside doors to keep him from going out. He thought she trapped him inside so he smashed the window to get out. In another early incident, I went to one of Teepa Snow’s seminars and left a new caregiver with him.

      Continue reading about Steve and Gwen's journey

      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.

      Courageous Conversations in Dementia

      by Corrie L. Phillips,
      PAC Team Member

      We have launched a new video series that tackles some really tough topics. Join Teepa and her guests as they engage in Courageous Conversations in Dementia. It can be scary to address certain topics, but we know it’s important to share our thoughts and ideas and consider the opinions of others. Our mission to build a globally inclusive community requires that we acknowledge the experience, education, and cultural backing of each individual who is willing to take a seat at the table. So please consider this your invitation to be a part of the movement.

      New episodes will be released every Wednesday on Facebook and YouTube. Sample topics include issues around dementia rights, COVID-19, disparities in the care community, right-to-die and end-of-life options, public health perspectives, LGBTQ issues, addiction recovery, and more. Please take a look at the videos that have already been released and send us your feedback or let us know if you would like to join Teepa for a Courageous Conversation.

      Out with the Old, In with the New - Creating New Routines and Habits

      by Tracy Ouellette,
      PAC Services Lead Administrator

      The month of March hits and in walks COVID, and out walks life as we know it.

      I have two very good friends who are Executive Directors at assisted living facilities, you want to talk about life being flipped upside down. They have both been in lockdown since March. One facility is just now allowing residents to dine together. That is nine months of isolation for all three meals. Bingo is played in the hallway with the residents sitting in their doorways, the same for any exercise that they might get.

      No family visits allowed unless its outside and masks are worn. The staff is burned out, the families are miserable because they miss hugging their loved ones, and we won’t even get into those that have lost loved ones to this pandemic.

      Continue reading the entire article

      Arts Corner

      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.

      Planning for Music: Make it Personal

      by Mary Sue Wilkinson,  
      Founder of Singing Heart to Heart and Author of "Songs You Know by Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Musi
      c in Dementia Care"

      This simple planning sheet was designed to help you address individual needs as you embrace using music in dementia care. It is an excerpt from my book, Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care. The book, which includes a contribution from Teepa, includes greater detail about how to use music relative to the GEMS® State Model. You can find the book, along with Mary Sue’s sing along CDs and other music resources in the Positive Approach to Care® store. For more musical resources including songbooks with lyrics, song guides, training videos, and free sing along videos visit Singing Heart to Heart.

      Continue reading for the complete planning sheet, including printable version

      [thrive_2step id='268169']Click to download Positive Approach to Care's FREE GEMS Dementia Care App[/thrive_2step]

      The Rest I Make Up

      by Kathryn Quinlan,  
      PAC Mentor and Trainer with Michelle Memran, Journalist and Filmmaker 

      My interview with Michelle Memran, filmmaker, illustrator, and journalist. Her award-winning documentary The Rest I Make Up was featured at PAC’s 2nd Annual Conference this past November. The film is about the relationship that grows between Michelle and renowned playwright, María Irene Fornés, who is living with Alzheimers. They co-create the film over a period of several years. The Rest I Make Up was named one of The Best Movies of 2018 by Richard Brody in The New Yorker.

      Click here to rent the film, The Rest I Make Up.       

      Consultant's Corner

      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.

      Consultant's Corner
      by Carolyn Lukert, MBA, CGCM, 
      PAC Consultant and Mentor

      Dear PAC Consultant,

      I support my mom who has Alzheimers and lives with me. I thought we had it figured out. We had a nice routine, and then COVID-19 entered the picture. In a flash, we could no longer do the things she liked to do. For example, long trips to the grocery store meandering through the aisles, a very supervised weekly volunteer activity with a large group of people, lunch outings with one or two friends on a pretty regular basis, we can no longer do these. Now, we spend much more time inside, and the majority of the time, it’s just the two of us. I am running out of things to do with her and it’s soon to be too cold to do much of anything outside at all. The one consistent thing we have been able to do is go for a walk and that will likely come off the list in the very short term. I’m not sure how either of us are going to make it through the winter. This thing is just dragging on and on, and I am starting to lose hope. To make matters worse, I am seeing changes in my mom that I am thinking may be a result of these circumstances. Any words of encouragement?

      Losing Hope in Lowell

      Click for Carolyn's response to Losing Hope in Lowell

      Seeing the GEMS® Workbook - Includes Bonus Videos!

      A New GEMS® WORKBOOK from Positive Approach To Care! Special Limited Time Introductory Price!!

      Seeing the GEMS® Workbook is a 48-page full-color workbook.

      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.

      Spirituality Corner

      As the Spirit Moves You...

      by Amanda Snow Bulgarelli,
      PAC Chief Operations Officer

      Becoming Vegetarian: One Food at a Time

      by Paula Jaros,
      PAC Scheduling Coordinator

      Sometimes the comments people make about this choice of mine are rude, occasionally mean, and some are genuinely questioning. The biggest question is why?

      I’ll tell you why I chose to be vegetarian. My daughter made me do it. Not totally true but it is partially true. My daughter went vegetarian almost two years ago. She is a massage therapist and a sports trainer. She did it for her health and after a lot of reading and research made the leap.

      Continue reading the entire article

      Certified Community
      Corner (C3)

      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!

      Perks of PAC Certifications

      by Alejandro DeJesus,
      PAC Lead Mentor Coordinator

      As a member of the Certified Community, you get added benefits that others do not, but let’s be honest, you also put in a whole lot of time and effort to get them. Below are some offerings that we hope you are taking advantage of as you look to end 2020 and get the new year started.

      Every Friday, from 1 – 2 pm Eastern time, we have mentors in a Zoom room that are available to answer questions and help Certified Community members practice their skills. Bring a question or topic with you or show up and listen to other people. If you would like the Zoom number please send me an email.

      We also have Certified Community webinars. These happen a few times a month and are only open to people that have completed a PAC Certification. These webinars are interactive and are led by the PAC Mentors. Teepa also leads a few webinars every year as well. If the time/date doesn’t work for you to be live with us you can go back and watch the recording. Check out some of our past webinars here.

      Looking ahead to next year? Click here to sign up for a Certified Community webinar scheduled for 2021.

      Hugs for the Holidays

      by Mary Anne Oglesby,
      Executive Director of Veranda Ministries and PAC Certified Independent Trainer, Consultant, and Mentor

      Hugs for the Holidays is an initiative involving hot pink ribbons to create awareness of persons in long-term care communities who are unable to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Families with loved ones in communities are asked to display the bright pink ribbons around a tree, mailbox, porch rail, or other outside visible location on their property. Businesses and churches are also encouraged to participate.

      The state-wide project is spearheaded by members of the Tennessee Caregivers for Compromise, a caregiver advocacy group on Facebook that is working to help reduce the barriers of isolation between families and their loved ones in long-term care communities during this holiday season. Mary Anne Sutherly, administrator of the Tennessee Caregivers for Compromise Facebook group;

      Traditionally, the holidays are special times when families spend time together, but unfortunately this year with the pandemic, isolation will continue to replace togetherness. COVID-19 has caused communities to severely limit, and in some instances, remove access of families to their loved ones.

      Continue reading for more of their story

      Resources Corner

      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 Champion offerings, the PAC Annual Conference, and Teepa's Master Courses.

      Dementia Culture Change

      by Debi Tyler Newsom, OTR/L,
      PAC Client Relationship Director

      If you thought that creating a new habit was challenging.

      The term culture can be described as a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group. While the concept of culture can seem rather abstract and fuzzy, we have engaged in many conversations about cultural issues this year. Some of those topics have been addressed with much passion and a call for culture change.

      Continue reading for tips on creating culture change

      Practice Makes...

      by Stephanie “Teffie” Landmann, COTA/L,
      PAC Support Mentor, Coach, and Trainer

      If you answered perfect, that is the common response. One could say, practice makes habit. Practice is a great way to build new habits. What happens when the habit is one that you want to shift or change? What habits do you want to change and how do you change them? What do you need to be successful and why?

      Join us January 26th – 28th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Eastern time for our virtual three-day Coach Certification.


      by Keith Icove,
      PAC Lead Product Coordinator

      In the Resource Corner this year we focused on tangible resources from PAC and other sources that can help us in our roles as professional or family care partners. Resources such as books, music, videos, and other tools for engagement and education, etc. As this year that has been like no other finally comes to an end, I’d like to look at a different type of resource; you and us. The greatest resource we have to offer others is ourselves; our care, our empathy, our actions, and our attitudes.

          Continue reading  Keith's full article on gratitude

          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.

          Word Walls are easy to create and install with next day shipping available. Please visit our website and check out our Facebook page.

          This is a paid advertisement, and PAC does not promote or endorse any product 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.

          For more information on Picture This, seniors, and memory care, visit our Website and check out our Facebook page. Download Picture This for FREE!

          This is a paid advertisement, and PAC does not promote or endorse any product not produced by PAC. 

          Positive Approach to Care has launched an Amazon Storefront

          Holiday Tips

          Tips for the Person with Dementia
          • Take some time out to relax
          • Do what you enjoy
          • Consider letting people know when you need a break or are having trouble
          • Make a list with your partner of what you would like to do this season
          • Use the list to help keep on track
          • Consider saying – I know I know you, but I just can’t place you… when someone greets you and you aren’t sure who they are to you
          • Watch or listen to old, familiar music, movies, and TV programs that make you feel good
          • Get some exercise every day
          • Get plenty of water each day
          • Be careful about too many sweets or treats
          • Work with a partner to do familiar and fun doing activities – making, signing or mailing cards, or making up mixes with recipes to share, or baking something and wrapping it

          Tips for the Visitor
          • Start off by looking friendly and offering your hand in a handshake
          • Introduce yourself by name, then pause, if the person still doesn’t seem to know you, give them a little more background
          • Use shorter phrases and pause between thoughts or ideas, giving the person a chance to respond
          • Talk about the old times more than recent information
          • Keep memories positive if possible
          • Accept general comments, don’t push for specifics
          • Don’t correct errors, go with the flow of the conversation
          • Be prepared to hear old stories over and over, use old pictures or props to bring up other old memories…and laugh
          • Do something with the person rather than just talking to them

          Printable version of Holiday Tips 

          Tips for the Care Partner
          • Keep gatherings smaller and visits shorter
          • Offer time out
          • Make a list of pleasures to do
          • Encourage visitors to understand before they begin interacting
          • Encourage going out and doing something fun together rather than just talking
          • Ask visitors to bring old pictures, old familiar items or props, and be prepared to reminisce about old times
          • Take breaks from each other
          • Consider cutting back on traditions if they seem distressing
          • Help visitors out by introducing them with some orienting information
          • Get some exercise and take care of your stress levels
          • Get a friend to help the person with dementia select gifts, shop, or do something special for loved ones,
          including you

          Share with Family, Friends, or Colleagues!