April 2020 Issue

Staying Alive 
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L

How does our central nervous system (CNS) do it? 

Well, to be honest, this article took on a whole new face in light of the pandemic that has swept across the globe. My initial plan was to talk about the parts of the brain that are responsible for the autonomic and automatic functions of the human body. The article was written to highlight the role of later states of dementia, dementia plus an acute episode of illness, and dementia plus an acute episode of illness on top of a chronic health condition, and how each related to the person’s ability to live well or even survive as more and more brain wiring and functions are compromised. 

Little did I realize when I started the article at the beginning of the month, how very real and overwhelming it would be to consider how we will support our frail Pearl and Ruby state friends, family members, and clients through this enormous firestorm of challenges, until they can complete their journey and finally be at rest. Or how we would need to be immensely and intensely creative to support and serve our Amber and Emerald state loved ones by changing almost everything in their world and ours. Nor did I begin to imagine the extreme difficulties of trying to provide virtually or remotely what had been given on a daily basis in person and intimately for our Diamond and Sapphire colleagues, partners, friends, and family.

A Message from Positive Approach to Care  

Click Here to View PAC's Videos on Our YouTube Channel

PAC is Responding, NOT Reacting, to COVID-19.
We are still offering services, however, it is an ongoing discussion on how to provide the best support to everyone. 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. Let us know what else you want to see or how we can help by completing our survey.

We understand that having resources like the Online Dementia Journal can help in this time of need and also provides a great reading activity. Keep in mind while viewing this month’s issue, that as the COVID-19 pandemic and related information changes as time goes on, some details or services may also evolve. Visit our homepage in the coming days and weeks to stay up to date with changes or sign up for our email list to get notified of ongoing developments right to your inbox.

- Teepa Snow and the Positive Approach to Care team
Dementia, the Immune System, and COVID-19 
by Melanie Bunn, MSN, GNP, 
PAC Certified Trainer, Coach, and Consultant 

Amygdala reaction, and not the pleasure seeker kind. The danger kind. If you’ve spent any time in public, read a paper, watched a news program, interacted at all on social media, answered your phone, looked at a text or email, the word COVID-19/Corona virus brings a new level of understanding to the term amygdala or stress reaction. What’s really going on? What do you really need to know? To do? Here is some information to get you started and some resources to keep you going. 

How does the brain and the endocrine system impact the immune system?  

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!

Mindfulness - An Inner Resource
by Kathleen Landel, MA,  
PAC Certified Trainer, Consultant, and Mentor

We are living in uncertain times. This is a terrain that those of us supporting someone living with dementia know very well. We know that there are peaks and valleys. Times of quiet joy and overwhelming sorrow. Moments when we feel frightened and unsettled. In this unprecedented time, can we see this as an invitation to develop an unknown strength and tap an inner resource?

Right in this moment, stay where you are. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. One breath; in and out. Slowly. And again; in and out. A third time; in and out. What did you notice? Relaxation? Tension release in your muscles? A calming of your nervous system?

How Learning Management Systems Can Help Provide Better Care
Relias - Learning Management Systems 

Dementia care is constantly evolving, with new research and best practices developed as we continue to learn more.

As fast as things change, care partners need to be constantly growing in order to continue to provide the best care possible for their patients or residents.

As we look at current learning and development needs in the workplace, we can see how the need for better access to job-based knowledge drives the demand for different types of learning solutions.

With the rise of new technology and software innovation, it’s now possible to give your staff access to training 24/7.

Positive Approach to Care Needs Your Support!

Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of nearly all in-person workshops and events, Teepa Snow's company and team is in financial hardship. This will also impact free resources we are able to create for you, like our monthly journal.

Please consider helping us continue our mission and efforts of improving the lives of people affected by dementia.

With love and sincere appreciation,
Teepa Snow and the entire PAC Team

Registration for 2020 PAC Conference is Open!

Need an umbrella to come in out of the rain?

Dementia can feel like a downpour of sadness, confusion, and more. Grab your spot under the umbrella of dementia with Teepa and the Positive Approach® to Care (PAC) Team in Cary, N.C. You can find a warm, educational, and positive space as we explore eight of the over 120 different types, causes, and forms of dementia. Not only will you hear from experts in the field, but you will also hear from those living with the different forms of dementia. Our PAC Team will also be on hand to provide practical skills you can implement right away!

Registration is now open; $250 for families, care partners, and others, $350 for those attending as professionals. **Note: Only those attending as professionals will be eligible for Continuing Education Credits (CEs).

Last year, PAC ran our first Conference – Dementia is a State of Mind. We ended up with 410 attendees and incredible feedback!

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

I got a library card. No big deal, right? Wrong. I used to love to read. I could spend hours deep into other worlds. Someone else's stories are often interesting and entertaining. I'd read almost anything. As a child I studied dogs, soaking up all the information I could. I'd memorized breed standards, temperaments, appearances, and conformation. I still can recognize almost any breed or mixed breed by sight. So, I started my new library experience by randomly choosing books about dogs. I got particularly interested in one though I don't recall the title nor author. It was a novel, about a dog and his boy, I think. It was a familiar and comfortable topic.

Continue reading the complete article

It's Not Just Memory Problems - A Look Into Sensory Changes with Agnes Houston
by Corrie L. Phillips, PAC Team Member

Often when people talk about dementia, they assume that all dementias come with severe memory loss. This is what is portrayed in the media and often glorified in films. While memory issues are present for some, this is not true for everyone.

I would like to introduce you to Agnes Houston of Scotland. Agnes was diagnosed with early-onset dementia of the Alzheimers type back in 2006. Since that time, she has been sharing her story around the world. Her focus is to share not only her story but the story of others who have faced the challenges of sensory input changes with dementia.

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.

The Drive to Survive

by Corrie L Phillips,
PAC Team Member

With most of the world now under the threat of infection from COVID-19, the role of care partners has changed dramatically. Care partnering with someone is a full-time job, no doubt. It’s very easy to take on too much. We rarely say no because it all has to get done.

Now, we have added the extra stresses of cleaning, disinfecting, and keeping our hands and our loved one’s hands clean. We are looking for new engagement ideas, interesting meals to make, and perhaps ways to save money not knowing what the future may hold economically.

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!

The Awakening

by Gari Grooms,
Registered Nurse and Paramedic

I sit in awe at the brain and what It can do.

It can critically think in a split-second how to maneuver a car out of a truly devastating accident.

It can throw out the arms of a mother as her child’s body falls headfirst toward the pavement, stopping the fate, while talking on the phone, never missing a dialogue or thought.

It can work in the medical field calculating drug dosages and doing CPR while singing the song in Its’ head, Stayin Alive, Stayin Alive. At the same time, It can jot down the very precise second each drug was given for each rhythm and the joules used to shock the heart back to life along with how many CPR rounds It completed.

It can remember phone numbers, addresses, people’s names, streets, roads, how to cook, clean, and fold laundry, until It can’t, It just can’t.

It starts with subtleness; I’ve lost my keys. I can’t remember how to get home. I don’t know who put the chicken in the cabinet, maybe somebody else did.

As the days, weeks, and years go by, telling the story of all the lost items, fender benders, and lost baths, It can no longer hide the truth, it’s no longer anyone else’s fault, only It is the problem.

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.

Seven Simple Suggestions for Building Your Music Team

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”

Are you feeling like the Lone Ranger out there trying to keep your music program going without any outside help from musicians and music therapists? You are only one person, right? Even if you love to sing and feel totally comfortable using music…there are only so many songs you can sing in a day; only so many people in your care that you can personally reach.

You need a music team and a community culture that supports music.

How do you build that team?

You tap into your most valuable resource. The other people you work with.

Create More Than Jewelry 

by Leslie Fuller, MSW,
PAC Certified Independent Trainer

My first experience in senior living was working for an independent living community with over 300 residents. I was instantly charmed with their stories, their advice, and the joy I found in helping them maneuver their new chapter of life. At the time, I was an avid jewelry maker, and started a weekly class teaching them technique and design. I looked forward to it each week as it was an artistic break from my other duties, and I was having fun with new friends.

After two years of teaching the class, I was promoted to my new role as an executive director of one of the company’s Alzheimers and dementia care communities. When I started, I thought about my jewelry making, and wondered, "Can these new residents who all have dementia even do this?" How silly was I.

Due to the ever changing precautions during the Coronavirus outbreak, PAC's event details are constantly changing.
For the most up to date information click the links below

All PAC Events


Live Public Webinars

Teepa's Speaking Engagements

Upcoming Webinars

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 12 participants.

Learn more, view the whole schedule, or register

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.


Join Teepa and the team LIVE as we check out everyday scenarios to determine whether the actions are normal aging or NOT. Teepa will work with you, the audience, to discuss the changes we can expect to see in a normally aging brain and when we should get curious about what we are seeing.

Learn more, view the whole schedule, or register

Ask Teepa Anything
In this free, monthly web broadcast, Teepa discusses a dementia related topic and then answers questions from the audience.  This is your opportunity to get your questions answered!  Join us for the live broadcast!


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.

Learn more, view the whole schedule, or register

Spirituality Corner

Thank you, Teepa and company. Bless you for this reasoned, helpful article! – Elisa Bosley, a Chaplain in Boulder, CO.

As Teepa mentioned in her article, staying alive isn’t completely dependent on how clean our outer shells are. Finding joy and being fulfilled in spirit is a huge component. And sometimes, it is simply our time to shine in whatever GEMS® state we are in, or it is our time to go.

Also, from Elisa;

In case it’s helpful to you, just this morning (in response to an email from a nursing home staff), I posted some free ideas for one-on-one spiritual care activities suitable for elders with dementia and their care workers.

Click here for quick, one-on-one spiritual care ideas during COVID-19 lockdown.

Love Blooms 
by Linn Possell,
PAC Speaker and Mentor

Spring is a time of celebration for many of us, whether in our tradition we are celebrating going from slavery to freedom, from fear and oppression to new life, or the triumph of good over evil, to name only three of the holidays held in the month of April. These traditions remind us that the power of love is the greatest power that exists. Today, spring might seem like dark times for our world, whether we are looking at the growing number of people affected by the coronavirus, or the growing chasm between the wealthy and the poor, or another personal difficulty that you might be facing. As this new pandemic has caused more angst in our world, many of us are already going through something in our personal life. So, what can we do? Is there something that we can do while we practice social distancing and are limited in our ability to be connected in traditional ways?

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

Engagement - Now More Than Ever

by Keith Icove,
PAC Lead Product Coordinator

The need for meaningful engagement activities for people living with dementia has always been vital. Even more so now that we are living in the new normal of COVID-19 where many care partners are isolated at home and may not have the additional support they are used to. Positive Approach® to Care has numerous resources that can help you plan and implement engagement activities. There are also many resources you can find on the internet.

I recently came across a useful post on the Seniorlink blog that pulls together 50 tips and ideas for keeping people living with dementia active and engaged through everyday activities, outings, cognitively challenging tasks, and social and emotional activities. It includes helpful tips for selecting activities that are appropriate based on the person’s interests, abilities, and other considerations. Most of the activities mentioned can be done at home with items you probably already have in your house. Click here to find out more.

Services and Organizations - Opportunities to Support

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

At this time, everyone’s focus is on COVID-19. Our passion to provide dementia awareness and skills to facilities and organizations has taken a back seat to finding ways to support those organizations, residents, and staff who are affected while adapting our own needs.

No Visitors Allowed!

With restrictions on visitors and outside guests, training sessions have been postponed. Current needs in those facilities are on providing care, containment of the virus to keep it from spreading further, and protecting staff from exposure as they deliver services. Staffing ratios have not been adjusted as schools have closed and healthcare workers who parent young children must find ways to cover their responsibilities.

So, what can PAC do, both as an organization, and as individuals? Actually, a lot!

Continue reading the complete article

Lunch Date

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

I was working as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and director of rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility when I meet Ms. Y. I had been working for a week with this wonderful lady to help her eat. For breakfast or lunch, I would come into her room and help her with her meal. It was a quiet time with no TV, no radio, and very little conversation. In fact, we would only talk at the beginning of the meal and at the end. I would come into the room with my usual greeting,

Hi Ms. Y., it’s Teffie. I’ve brought your lunch and boy does it smell good.

Oh, good I’m ready to eat. What do we have today, she would respond?

I would set up her tray on the rolling bedside table, get out her utensils, and set up her drink while naming the items on her plate. I would get around to the right side of her bed, make sure the head of the bed was up, and then set us up in Hand-under-Hand®. With her hand in mine I would pick up her spoon and start with the meatloaf as requested. 

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,

My mom has dementia and lives in a locked memory care community within a Continuing Care Retirement Community. It has taken her a year to acclimate, but it finally seems like she is comfortable there. My dad (her husband of 63 years) lives close by in an independent living apartment and takes her to dinner every night to a restaurant on campus. When he brings her back, he simply says he has a flight to catch, and she accepts this.

Recently, he got sick and has been unable to visit. The impact on her has been devastating. She has stopped eating and doesn’t want to participate in anything. It almost seems as though she has lost the will to live. I am far away (west coast, she is east coast) and I talk with her on the phone daily. I have tried to explain why he isn’t visiting right now, and she just isn’t grasping it. What can I do to help her?

Sad in Seattle

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
    • Glenaire
    • Leisure Care
    • The Lewy Body Dementia Association
    • Linked Senior
    • Patrick Manor
    • Relias
    • SENI
    • Senior Helpers
    • Senior Home Care Solutions
    • Seniors Helping Seniors
    • Southern Gerontological Society
    • Trualta
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