Monday, September 8, 2014

Living In the Moment--When a Family Member Has Dementia

Have you ever considered the similarities between caregiving and improv? Probably not--who would-they certainly seem to be quite dissimilar occupations. Yet when you think about their characteristics, they are quite similar.   The website, In the Moment, which is focused on "creative ideas for training staff" lists on the landing page characteristics that apply to both, including being flexible, adaptable, courageous, spontaneous, generous, selfless and trusting.

So the idea is very intriguing. Wonder how the founder came up with this concept?  She talks about receiving a phone call almost a decade and a half ago about her mom about her dad's imminent death:

and within twenty four hours ... was on a plane flying to be with ... family and wait for ... Dad to pass away. During that time of sitting, laughing, thinking, crying and rambling -[she]...realized that the world of Improvisation was very similar to the world of caregiving and Alzheimer's disease and dementia.... [unsure] why the idea hit ... then, maybe it was divine inspiration, maybe someone was telling [her] the reason why [her] ... Dad had Alzheimer's or maybe [she] ...was sleep deprived. Probably all of the above... [Having]... attended a lot of very informative and well executed workshops and trainings... [yet] not a very good learner... [she] remember[s] sitting in a class and listening to the instructor talking about effective communication with persons with dementia."

Then inspiration struck, as she says in her own words  "[a]ll  I could think of was how tired I was of sitting . If she would just do this improv exercise it would illustrate her point more clearly and get everyone up and moving. Hmmmm...." She wrote grant applications, with this excerpt from her abstract, explaining the parallels

The rules of Improvisation parallel the “ rules “ of Caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s. Each rule of Improv has exercises, hands on techniques to illustrate points of care. Improv itself teaches characteristics that are essential to the caregiver : listening, validation, accepting others’ realities, problem solving and creativity to name only a few. I see improvisation as another tool for caregivers and for trainers to use to create a better quality of life for each person with Alzheimer’s. I want to clarify that this this is not training of how to do Improvisation. But training that uses Improvisation to teach Alzheimer care.

The "rules" she references can be accessed here. The website also provides information about the 6 week training program, training tips, and other resources. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to "[e]Employ ... theater games with creativity exercises ... [to] provide[] caregivers with the methods to become better at what they do." 

Live in the moment--and enjoy that moment with a family member who has dementia---very good advice indeed.

 

September 8, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Games | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Memory Cafes: Hanging Out in a Judgment Free Zone -- with Good Coffee

On yesterday's ride over the Blue Mountains between my Law School's campus in Carlisle and the campus in State College, I caught a great public radio program, interviewing folks at a "Memory Cafe." 

As anyone involved in care for a person with dementia knows, especially those who are "stuck" at home, it can be a challenge.  Both the caregiver and the cared-for person could use a good break now and then. 

That's where the concept of Memory Cafes come in -- a place where folks won't judge about how Alzheimer's or similar cognitive impairments might affect the ability to have a traditional conversation.  Where canes and walkers are welcome.  A place that is warm and friendly. Where people understand -- and can share a laugh, along with good coffee. 

From Wisconsin Public Radio, here's a bit of history and a description of a cafe in Appleton, Wisconsin:

“'Memory Cafes' got their start in the Netherlands and are common now both there and in England. They are 'judgment-free zones' for people with mild dementia or memory loss.

 

About a dozen people gathered last week at a cafe session at a coffee shop in Appleton. John McFadden is a co-coordinator of the memory cafe and plays the ukulele to welcome participants. Betty Ann Nelson came with her husband, Duane. The Nelsons have been married 58 years and have attended several cafe sessions since they began earlier this year."

Some sessions might involve activities, such as a program called "Time Slips" where participants pass around amusing photos and are invited to tell the story.  One photo showed nuns on bumper cars at an amusement park, leading a customer to describe them as "Holy Rollers."

For more on the concept, follow the links on Wisconsin Public Radio to listen to this radio account.  

October 22, 2013 in Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Food and Drink, Games, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)