November 2020 Issue

Getting Our Brains To Re-Wire
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA

In this article, I am going to focus in on the concept of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to re-wire itself using new pathways and different storage areas to rebuild circuitry and improve function. This can be done whether or not you are living with some form of neurodegeneration (dementia). It can be done whether you live with some form of psychological or mental health challenge. It can be done if you have had incidents where you have lost some of your wiring or structures in your brain due to stroke, head injury, or normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). It can be something that can help you deal with and live with illnesses that affect the wiring that connects your body to your brain, like MS, Parkinsons, or other chronic illnesses that are systemic and painful.

To explore this topic, I am going to focus in on our new environmental and social reality, the COVID-19 world in which we live. This is an enormous change in our pattern of living life, engaging in the social world, the sensory world, the various places and spaces in the world, and the surfaces that we contact and come in contact with throughout each day.

Continue reading to understand neuroplasticity and its benefits

Neuroplasticity and Changing Brain
by Matthew Christopher,  
PAC Support Mentor 

I’m going to take you back in time. Close your eyes, and imagine the moment you first tried to stand up and walk. You grab on to something close by and pull yourself up to stand. You are struggling to get your balance as you plant both feet on the ground. You start to edge slowly away from what you're holding for balance until you let go. Your weight shifting in all directions until you lean forward, take a step, and ah ha, you are starting to walk. What an amazing moment for you, for your parents, and your brain. That is right I said your brain. Why would I say your brain you ask? Your brain just went through an amazing transformation, creating new neural pathways, allowing you to store and register the experience, so that you can do it over and over and over again. The other really cool thing about neuroplasticity is that with each experience you are creating new neural pathways, or strengthening the pathways you have already created. This is neuroplasticity at work.

Every experience you have in this world creates more and more pathways for you to tap into and to use later in similar experiences. What an amazing thing that our brain does, don’t you agree? So, imagine now that you are hit by something that causes brain change, and it has damaged your brain permanently.

Continue reading to find out how neuroplasticity can help

Saying Goodbye to What Was
by Laurel Hed,  
Geriatric Care Manager 

For those of you living with a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease, you have probably recognized the truth behind the saying; the long goodbye.

As this disease progresses, a person finds themselves saying goodbye to bits and pieces of their loved one as well as to life as they have known it.

What I have found to be difficult is that for the longest time mom may say or do something quite odd and then flip back to her old self. During those earlier years I would ask myself if I was the one with the problem and mom was just fine.

Alzheimers is sneaky that way. Unlike many other terminal illnesses, Alzheimers robs the person of memory, as well as who they were as a person. Compared to other diseases such as cancer or heart disease, where their bodies decline but often their mind stays intact, families can still feel somewhat connected to their loved one. With Alzheimers there is a disconnect as they gradually forget who you are or even who they are.

Continue reading the entire article

Thanks to Our 2020 PAC Virtual Conference Sponsors
by Shelly Edwards, MLS,  
PAC Business Development Coordinator 

The 2020 PAC Virtual Conference is now complete and it was a great success. Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors and exhibitors. We couldn’t have done it without you.

We will share out some of the highlights from the 2020 PAC Virtual Conference in the December issue of our Online Dementia Journal.

Download the article for website links to each sponsor

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.


Teepa’s Clips – A PAC Subscription Service

$2.99  $9.99 / month with a 14-day free trial


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 for access!


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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


Tell us more aboutProducts You Want

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

It's time to think about my ODJ article. What have I done this past month? Anything different? New? Important? Exciting?

I went to my PCP (Personal Care Physician) for an annual checkup/physical exam. Always a fun time. But I do like my PCP. She's nice. Gentle. She listens to me and is kind.

Our garden is great. Eddy has planted many of our new seasonal crops. I know there is some baby bok choy and snow peas. He is still tending to the plants and soil every day. The flowers are still bright and colorful. The greenery is green. We will have so many lemons! I'm happy about all of the kumquats that are ripening on our two small trees. Yay for kumquats!

      Continue reading for more from Lauren

      Click here to learn about our FREE GEMS Dementia Care App

      Our Alzheimers Journey -Part One

      by Gwendolyn Pines

      Caring for Steve with his Alzheimers disease was the hardest six years of my life. I was determined not to let it kill me, like it did my father, who took care of my mother with the disease.

      Steve had six children, however, only two provided assistance and their time was very limited, but I could always count on them in emergencies. They coordinated with each other to stay with him a few times while I took a respite trip. Neither of them objected to any of my decisions regarding Steve’s care and they had nothing but praise for the way I cared for him.

      Steve’s dementia was detected before the first obvious signs. The staff of the Institute for Dementia Research Prevention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, noted Steve’s very early signs of dementia in their initial testing for the LaBrain study in 2012.

      In 2014, the first obvious sign of his dementia was when he talked to me as if I were a stranger on our way home from a trip to Austin. Since I was warned of his risk for Alzheimers Disease, I replied as if he too, were a stranger, as I held back tears. The next sign was when Steve spent all day and part of the night preparing his boat for a fishing trip with a friend, a task he formerly handled with ease. In the morning his boat was nowhere near ready, so they went in his friend's boat. Steve, an avid fisherman, never went fishing again or seemed interested in doing so.

      Continue reading about Steve and Gwen's journey

      PAC has launched an Amazon Storefront

      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.

      Care Partnering Outside the Lines

      by Corrie L. Phillips,
      PAC Team Member

      Jacquelyn Joyce Revere is an Actress, Director, and Writer who was living her best life, then one day she got the call…you’ve gotta come home. Now she is living in her mother’s home and has built a village to support her and her mother on their dementia journey.

      At PAC, we know that dementia is just as unique as each individual. Our job as Care Partners is to figure out what works best for us and the person we are supporting. Jacquelyn has stepped outside the box to figure this out and she is documenting her journey on her YouTube Channel. We encourage you to take a look at what she’s doing. You might find a little inspiration of your own.

      Continue reading the entire article

      Inconvenience or Opportunity?

      by Christine Browdy,
      PAC Product Development

      All around us we are consumed with changes. Some of these changes might be programs and groups meeting virtually instead of in-person or some changes require spending more time at home rather than out and about. Truth is, some of these changes are quite inconvenient. How can we turn these inconveniences into opportunities?

      I recently met a group of people who are choosing to offer a really neat opportunity to people living with dementia and their families all over the world. A Caregiver’s Guide for Alzheimer’s – Staying Connected Through Activities, was developed to provide activities to assist loved ones to stay connected with their families and caregivers and bring them purpose, accomplishment, and joy.

      Continue reading for more of their story

      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!

      2021 Certifications Calendar

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

      2021 PAC Certifications are getting on the books. Here is a look at the first quarter along with two International time zone friendly certifications this year.

      January:

      • Virtual Trainer Certification on the 12th - 14th from 1 pm - 5 pm ET
      • Advance Consultant Certification on the 13th and 27th from 11 am – 4 pm ET
      • Virtual Coach Certification on the 26th - 28th from 9 am -1 pm ET

      February:

      • Virtual Consultant Certification on the 9th - 11th from 9 am -1 pm ET
      • Virtual Trainer Certification on the 16th - 18th from 9 am – 1 pm ET

      March:

      • Virtual Trainer Certification on the 9th - 11th from 9 am -1 pm ET
      • Virtual International Consultant Certification on the 23rd - 25th from 6 pm – 10 pm ET

      Click to view the PAC Certification Calendar and stay up to date on new PAC Certification offerings.

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

      Starting November 15th, you can register for certification courses held in the first quarter of 2021 from January through March.

      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.

      Musical Engagement Using Vinyl Records

      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"

      The cover art, the scent of the cardboard, the feel of the vinyl, and the sound of the music - every part of the experience is enjoyable!

      Hali McRoberts, Activity Professional, Cherry Hill Haven, Traverse City, MI.

      Once upon a time, before 8 track tapes, before cassette tapes, before music videos, before CDs, before ear buds, before streaming, before downloading, and before Alexa; there was vinyl and it was good.

      Listening to music back then was often an activity unto itself. You could say it required a little more effort; a little more engagement. And that is exactly why I encourage you to get a record player and start building your record collection.

      Continue reading to learn how record albums lead to engagement and happiness

      Joyful Moments
      by Kari Rogenski, RDT, LMFT,
      Director of the Hummingbird Project and Co-Creator of Joyful Moments Activity Cards


      Creating Moments of Joy

      by Kari Rogenski, RDT, LMFT,  
      Director of The Hummingbird Project and Co-Creator of Joyful Moments Activity Cards

      At The Hummingbird Project, we celebrate the importance of cultivating joy, engaging curiosity, and fostering personal expression, especially during this uniquely challenging moment in our history. Joyful Moments: Meaningful Activities to Engage Older Adults by The Hummingbird Project is one of the first decks of therapeutic activity cards to address creativity as its own domain of wellness. That’s right, creativity is not just an activity. We see it as a necessary and integral component to holistic wellness.

      Creative aging is key to promoting self-expression and helping individuals to thrive. Research shows us time and again how participating in arts-based experiences not only supports our emotional well-being, but can also help to reduce the need for medications, reduce the negative impact of isolation, and can support our physical well-being.

      Continue reading for plenty of creative ideas

      Spirituality Corner

      Pay it Forward

      by Amanda Snow Bulgarelli,
      PAC Chief Operations Officer

      The Spirit of Volunteerism

      by Amanda Snow Bulgarelli,  
      PAC Chief Operations Officer

      Anne Fargusson has become an inspiration to me in the short time that I have known her. She not only has learned to become more emotionally connected through her brain change, but she also provides for others as often as she can, connecting spiritually, through her passion of volunteerism.

      Anne has written a book about volunteering and her more spiritual side, titled Volunteers: How to Get Them, How to Keep Them! One of my favorite quotes from her book,

      If you volunteer, I guarantee you will find a new meaning in life. You will see the world differently. You will have a real sense of peace and satisfaction. Once you start sharing, you feel good, and it creates more of the same feeling.

      Continue reading the entire article

      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 designed to help learners develop a deeper understanding of Teepa Snow’s GEMS State Model. This workbook details the characteristics of the GEMS states and the retained abilities associated with each. Seeing the GEMS® Workbook expands on essential GEMS information and provides quizzes and exercises to reinforce your learning and grow your ability to recognize each GEMS State.

      To help you truly see the GEMS states, the workbook also includes access to bonus videos of Teepa, skillfully portraying the different GEMS, for an even more engaging learning experience.

      Unravelling FTD

      by Anne Fargusson  

      I am living with Frontotemporal dementia, FTD. I was diagnosed approximately 15 years ago. While FTD is a devastating disease, there are some interesting positive side effects. In the spirit of Positive Approach to Care I would like to share with you how this comes about.

      Joseph Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 - December 28, 1937) was a French composer, pianist, and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary. His most famous and known work is Boléro, a one movement orchestral piece originally composed as a ballet commissioned by a Russian actress and dancer, which premiered in 1928.

      Continue reading for more inspiration from Anne

      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.

      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. 

      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 family has a history of dementia-related illnesses; four immediate family members on my mom’s side, including my mom and three family members on my dad’s side, including my dad. I have to tell you, I am worried. The only thing that brings me some comfort is that, of the seven people who had diagnoses, there were at least four different (probable) diseases as the cause; Alzheimers, Vascular, Lewy Body, and Parkinsons-related. So, hopefully that means it’s not genetic…maybe?

      In any event, I want to know if there is anything I can do to shore up my chances of not getting dementia. Although you lovely people do wonderful work in the field of dementia care, I’d prefer not to need that care, if I can prevent it. Can you help?

      Worried in Wisconsin

      Dear Worried in Wisconsin,

      Well, I can understand why you are wanting to do something now. I think I can safely say that, if given a choice, most of us wouldn’t choose to have dementia. That said, do we really have that choice? Hmmmm…I’m curious.

      Click for Carolyn's response to Worried in Wisconsin

      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.

      Getting PAC to Basics

      by Keith Icove,
      PAC Lead Product Coordinator

      We all know 2020 has been anything but routine. In fact, it has pretty much blown up our work and social routines. Many of us have just been trying to survive and keep prepared for whatever unexpected occurrence 2020 might throw our way next. One thing that can help during chaotic times is getting back to basics.

      In the world of Positive Approach to Care® (PAC), back to basics means reviewing and drilling the fundamental techniques that are the building blocks of PAC skills. Here are five quick (and mostly free) resources to help inspire you to practice, practice, practice:

          Continue reading for Keith's five resources

          PAC is Listening

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

          PAC has worked hard to assess and reassess the services and resources which will meet the needs of those we serve. If you have checked out our website lately, you might have noticed changes in the Store tab under Dementia Education for Professionals.

          When COVID made its grand entrance the need for convenient and remote learning became even more pressing. Dementia training requirements continued to be a necessity for those providing care in facilities. Staff began working longer shifts, doing some work from home, and restricting the size of gatherings for in-service training. One of the most popular online group learning courses currently is our COVID series which addresses the issue of proactive approaches to keep staff and residents safe, while providing care and meaningful connections. Each GEMS State of dementia is addressed, with tips on adapting your response for each level.

          Continue reading to learn how PAC can assist with your staff development and training


          Certification Growth and Adaptation

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

          PAC Certifications have changed during the past 11 months:

          • Courses are held virtually
          • Less travel for the PAC Team
          • Less travel for learners
          • Increased participation from folks in other countries
          • Added an open-door session to support the Certified Community
          • Weekly live highlight of certified folks making changes in dementia care via Straight Up Positive! (SUP!) on Tuesdays at 7 pm on Facebook Live

          Join our Certified Community Facebook group and ask others what they are doing to grow, adapt, or change?

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          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!

          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. 

          Share with Family, Friends, or Colleagues!