July 2020 Issue
Understanding the Strengths and Skills of the Limbic System in Daily Life
Our central nervous system (CNS) is composed of many parts. One basic way to sort it out is to divide it into three major functional parts: our primitive brain, the limbic system, and the neocortex. The primitive brain takes care of basic pain/pleasure reactions and maintains rhythms that support life. The limbic system is responsible for more complex survival functions as well as reactions and responses for living effectively in the world. It helps build pathways and patterns that help us stay alive and interact with the world in which we find ourselves. Throughout our life time, our primitive brain and limbic system will always have a very active role in what we do and how we do it. The neocortex is responsible for thinking things through for both the short-term and long-term based on values, risks, and rewards.
Our limbic system partners with our neo-cortex (thinking brain) to help us safely make our way through a busy intersection while carrying our shopping bags and using our key fob to open the trunk of our car parked in the third slot from the crosswalk. Stepping down and up at curbs, manipulating a familiar device, noticing the color and location of our car, keeping track of the crosswalk light and timer, and balancing our take-out coffee while carrying two shopping bags are all tasks that are impacted and run more by the limbic system than our thinking brain.
A Message from Positive Approach to Care
PAC is Responding, NOT Reacting, to COVID-19.
We are developing virtual options for all of our services, certifications, and other offerings. Bookmark this page to stay up to date.
We are also creating videos as quickly as we can and are posting them on our homepage and social platforms to give you immediate help and support. View our homepage here or sign up for our email list to get notified of ongoing developments right to your inbox. Let us know what else you want to see or how we can help by completing our survey.
PAC Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor
Consider the following experiences and whether they elicit fear or excitement in you:
Riding a rollercoaster. Reading a thriller. Skydiving. Visiting a haunted house. First kiss. Watching a horror movie. Getting news. Falling in love. Public speaking.
- What are the physiological sensations for each experience?
- What leads us as individuals to interpret whether this is scary and dangerous or exciting and fun?
- Can this be simultaneously terrifying for one person and great fun for another?
- What does this mean for the way we conduct ourselves/show up in the world?
- Is there room for interpretation with all experiences or just some?
- How can we use this to manage ourselves better?
I am a Reluctant, but Proud Care Partner
PAC Internal Projects
I almost feel guilty about saying I am a reluctant care partner. I look in on my mother, who is 85 years old and somewhat capable of taking care of herself. My father recently passed away and she is on her own for the first time in her life. I have a 17-year-old daughter, and I have my mother. I find that I am teaching and showing them similar things.
At first, my agenda was to show my mother what had to be done to care for the house and her affairs. My older brother and sister live across the country, so the day-to-day is left up to me. I set up her bills to pay automatically; I interviewed and hired a yard service; we spoke to an attorney about all the things we had to change from my father’s name into her name. The list goes on and on. To make matters more challenging, my mother lives in a large three-story house and has two bad knees making it hard to walk. Ugh. I really wanted my mother to move to a smaller, more manageable house. That was number one on my agenda.
Registration for the 2020 PAC Conference is Open!
Need an umbrella to come in out of the rain?
Please plan to join us at the 2nd Annual PAC Conference which will be held virtually.
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.
We salute you and want to shine a light on care partners, people living with dementia, families, professionals, and organizations for all the hard work that you are doing to make life better for all of us.
In This Issue:
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.
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 are the five questions I am asked on a very, regular basis, with answers.
- What is your real name? What does Ga Mei U mean?
U is my last name. It's not an abbreviation for a longer name. U. Just U is the entire last name. The single letter is the whole last name. Ga Mei means beautiful family in Cantonese. I was given this name by my husband and in-laws as I joined the family. Nice, right? In many forums I use Lauren U only to eliminate more confusion.
- Is that a dog?
In My Own Words
PAC Core Team Member
I was on Facebook the other day looking at a site called, Ask the FTDers. This site is meant for caregivers to ask people with frontotemporal dementia anything that might be helpful in caring for their loved one. Usually the caregivers ask very important, poignant questions. The other day, someone wanted to know if their loved one actually cared about all the things they were doing for them. It is not unusual for people with FTD to have a flat affect and therefore no real reaction. Having said this, I was starting to feel uneasy and somewhat annoyed. I was reminded that there are several sites for caregivers including books and other publications, but very little is written about how the person with this disease feels.
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.
Learn More, Do Better
by Corrie Phillips,
PAC Team Member
With so many people caring for loved ones at home or partnering with staff to meet the needs of those living with dementia, self-care for the care partner has become a hot topic. There are hundreds of opinions and resources available for folks to learn more about how to care for themselves while also caring for a loved one. This month, we are going to take a different approach, self-education.
Learning new things becomes much harder as we get older. The cool thing is no matter how old you are, if you don't have fairly significant dementia, you can grow new synaptic connections. The more excited and interested you are, and the more you rehearse something, the quicker the connection will form. If you let it go too quickly it will be gone.
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!
Choosing to See
by Christine Browdy,
Director of REACH Community Respite Ministry and PAC Certified Independent Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
Be still for a moment. What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What is around you? Who is around you? What thoughts are running through your mind? What are you remembering? What are you hoping for? What are your dreams? What are your fears? These are questions we all, at some point in our lives, have asked ourselves…maybe over and over. As I sat in the schoolyard with members of a small village in Central America, I watched. I looked into their eyes and realized that some of the looks were the same. The stories were similar. The desires of the hearts were parallel, and the tears were real. I saw the connection and realized that just because we crossed a border and spoke a different language, we were not all that different.
I watched children play and experience the newness of life together while at the same time seeing a young girl sitting alone and watching from a distance. All she needed was a friend, a warm smile, an outstretched hand, and someone to understand. I walked over and just sat next to her. I didn’t have to say a word, she understood why I was there.
Several years later I found myself watching someone else experience the newness of his life as he faced Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. I could see him begin to hide and watch from a distance.
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.
Spanish Sing Along Video
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"
Have you heard of silver linings happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, here’s one for you. Since the Singing Heart to Heart team of song leaders have not been able to visit the senior communities we typically serve, we have started making sing along videos. We have always wished we could reach more people with music. There are only so many songs we can sing in person in a day. To help address the isolation and lack of live music we decided now was the time to start recording. These are simple videos that come from our homes and our hearts, to you and they are free.
Today, I want to call your attention to a special video that Miriam Pico, one of the SHH song leaders, made for us. Miriam is from Puerto Rico and is bi-lingual. So, this video is for our Spanish speaking friends. Miriam has a beautiful voice and a loving presence that I know people will enjoy and connect with. My dad loves it and he doesn’t even speak Spanish. Enjoy! You can find a wide selection of videos here on my website at Singing Heart to Heart.com.
Using Creativity to Find Pleasure and Get Engaged
by Kathryn Quinlan,
PAC Products and Services Coordinator
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.
– Edward de Bono –
The amygdalae are what drives our thrive to survive, they keep us alive. Part of what we need to thrive and survive is pleasure. Activating our brain creatively can offer a special kind of pleasure.
This month, I thought it would be fun to explore how artwork might help people living with dementia, and their care partners, engage in creativity and connection. I was inspired by discovering that many international museums are now offering free virtual tours online. Click here to take advantage of these free resources.
Due to the ever changing precautions during the Coronavirus outbreak, PAC's event details are constantly changing.
View Positive Approach to Care's Live Public Webinar Schedule here.
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.
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 also serves as 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.
For us here in the states, July usually means summer, fireworks, and freedom. Graduates are soaking up the last moments of sun and freedom before going to work, more school, or something else filled with responsibility. As I think back to graduations I’ve attended, one stands out in my mind, the Friend’s School from which my childhood best friend graduated.
There was a small class of 23 graduates sitting on the stage in the gymnasium as we, the proud crowd, sat in fold-up chairs around them, numbering in the hundreds. There was a buzz in the air and an excitement that was palpable. Lots of tiny conversations that echoed throughout the space, like the finale of a fireworks show, added to the level of intensity that culminated 13 years of life, work, and potential into this one day. And then, in the tradition of the Quakers, a pause was called for, and silence began until the spirit moved someone to speak. In those intense, silent moments I waited eagerly to see who would stand up first, but as time stretched on, I lost focus on others and completely turned inward to wait for the spirit to move me. Honestly, I have no idea who broke the silence or what was said. Those few moments, though they felt like hours, held anticipation, excitement, and space to remember as many beautiful moments as my brain could pull. I had joined a community without a single word and that has stuck with me for over twenty years. Though this was not my faith at the time, the spirituality piece of my brain, body, and heart felt full by simply being reminded to stop and think before speaking.
Click here to read an article from someone who is of this faith who is trying hard to support those living with dementia to maintain a safe place to practice their own spirituality.
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.
Too Much PAC?
by Keith Icove,
PAC Lead Product Coordinator
Whether you are a long-time Teepa fan, well versed in Positive Approach® to Care (PAC), or just getting to know PAC, one thing you probably noticed is that we offer so many different services, products, and resources that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start or what to explore next.
If you are just getting to know PAC, here are a couple of simple things to help get you started:
- Sign up for our free monthly Online Dementia Journal- If you’re reading this, odds are you’re already on our list, but if not, please sign up here and select which types of emails you prefer to receive.
- Purchase Teepa’s Dementia Caregiver Guide, a practical, easy-to-use resource that features Teepa’s GEMS® State Model, the benefits of Positive Approach to Care techniques, and how care partners can focus on remaining abilities to create more positive and productive care interactions. Click here to learn more.
by Debi Tyler Newsom, OTR/L,
PAC Client Relationship Director
PAC has an exciting new opportunity for organizations! Which one of these is it?
If you answered DISH/DASH, you are correct! We know that all organizations are unique. Different areas of the country, different populations served, different composition of staff, and not always the same needs and goals when it comes to dementia care training.
Have you ever taken advantage of a popular restaurant’s, You Pick Two option on the menu? Instead of a larger portion of one item, you can purchase a smaller portion of two different items. Perfect on a cool, rainy day when a cup of soup sounds fabulous to pair with a toasted sandwich…or wait, you’re trying to eat healthier, so maybe complement that soup with a small salad. The choice fits your wants, likes, and needs.
This is Your Brain on Ice Cream
by Stephanie “Teffie” Landmann, COTA/L,
PAC Support Mentor, Coach, and Trainer
A while ago, pre-COVID-19 stay at home orders, I took a trip to one of my favorite ice cream parlors. The sizes are; like it, love it, and gotta have it. Of course, I went for the gotta have it, this is ice cream after all. The size options made me think of a part of our brain. How does ice cream relate to the brain? I am so glad you asked.
In that moment, standing at the counter, my amygdala was saying, I need ice cream! Meeting your needs is one of the functions of the amygdala; I like it, I want it, I need it. Why is this part of the brain so important? We need it for survival. Imagine a hot sunny day working in the yard. After an hour or so you might like some water, but you skip it and keep working. A little bit more time passes now you want some water, and still you skip it. More time passes and now you need water. The amygdala is helping you survive by helping your body meet its needs without actively thinking about it. When is the last time you had to think about breathing or making your heart beat?
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.
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.
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 am wondering if you could clear something up for me. I am helping to support my brother, who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. One of the most surprising things I have noticed is his hair-trigger temper. It is so unlike him. Up until fairly recently, he was one of the most easy-going people I have ever known. In fact, that was what really stood out about him. Now it’s so different. It seems like he is always on the edge of exploding and when he does explode, it’s pretty ugly. Please help me understand what’s happening. Even better, would you share some tips and techniques for ways I can better support?
Curious in Clearwater
Dear Curious in Clearwater,
Thanks for reaching out. It brings me such hope when I hear from siblings who are wanting to learn how to best support each other. I know it is hard to see these changes. Learning how to respond, not react is what we hope to help you do. Hopefully, that will make things a bit better for everyone involved.
First to your question about what is happening. There are a few different possibilities, all related to the changing brain. Across many of the dementia-related conditions, the part of the brain that is responsible for our automatic reactions, the amygdala (located deep inside the brain), becomes hyperactive. This part of the brain is, among other things, responsible for our fright, fight, and flight response. So, any kind of surprise, even one that is intended to be positive, can trigger this automatic reaction. When the amygdala is triggered, it takes charge of brain function, and the ensuing response can be quite extreme.
Be a sponsor of the 2020 PAC Conference
We are looking forward to seeing all of you at our 2020 Positive Approach® to Care (PAC) Conference. If you would like to be a sponsor, visit the conference page and complete the sponsor form or send an email. Take a look below to see who else is already planning to attend as sponsors/exhibitors:
- The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)
- The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD)
- Athena Advocacy
- Aware Senior Care
- Care Academy
- Coping With Dementia
- Daybreak ADP
- Dementia Alliance of NC
- Empath Education
- Forget Me Not Family Care Home & Village
- Leisure Care
- The Lewy Body Dementia Association
- Linked Senior
- Patrick Manor
- Senior Helpers
- Senior Home Care Solutions
- Seniors Helping Seniors
- Southern Gerontological Society