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Donna's Blog

Donna's Blog

Thoughts, concepts and ideas about dementia care...

  1. Montessori Carts in Dementia Care

    Montessori Carts in Dementia Care

    In my visits to long term care homes, I usually have the pleasure of receiving a tour of the facility. Invariably, as we tour around, the conversation turns to “Montessori Carts” and my thoughts on how to best put one together or improve the one they already have.

    I’m going to go against the grain and say that personally I don’t really understand the benefit of having a Montessori cart at all. Let’s look at why.

    Where does the concept of a Montessori cart come from?

    If you are like me and are interested in Montessori for dementia, you probably scour the internet for all things Montessori trying to learn everything you can about Montessori for children in order to gain a better understanding of the philosophy so that you can apply it effectively.

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  2. Speaking "Around" People with Dementia

    Speaking "Around" People with Dementia

    Have you ever been in a store or public place and people around you are speaking in a language you don't understand? Maybe they're even glancing your way and gesturing. Do you wonder if they might be talking about you? Imagine what that would be like for someone with dementia. People with dementia often experience feelings of paranoia and caregivers speaking a language that they don't understand can make it worse.

    Unfortunately, we see this all too often in care facilities. As in most workplaces, staff in facilities come from a diverse background and many have a first language other than English. It is natural that they talk to their coworkers in that language. The problem arises when they do it in the presence of the residents. While the conversation may have nothing to do with the resident, it can still cause the person to become upset.

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  3. Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold...

    Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold...

    Are you too warm? Too cold? Do you feel better when the temperature is just right?

    For most people, when the temperature is too warm or too cold, their mood is affected. An ongoing study shows that for people with dementia, the effect can be significant. Frederico Tartarini, a PhD student in Australia is in the middle of studying the effects and, while his final results will be released in his PhD dissertation next year, he has released some preliminary findings.

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  4. Lessons from an Adult Coloring Group for Dementia

    Lessons from an Adult Coloring Group for Dementia

    Adult coloring has become a popular activity with many people, and it can be beneficial to people with dementia when presented properly as described in our article "Coloring Books for People with Dementia". A recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune titled "Dementia Therapy Inside the Lines, Outside the Box" talks about a group of people with dementia who meet regularly for a coloring session, and the success that they have had.

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  5. Feasibility of Using Computers with Dementia Patients

    Feasibility of Using Computers with Dementia Patients

    We have talked about using computers as a stimulating activity for people with dementia in our post "Computers and Dementia", and we have a provided a list of apps that we find effective in the Learning Center article "Windows Computer Apps for Dementia".

    We recently came across a study done by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences that took a closer look at using computers for dementia residents in long term care facilities. They selected 14 residents over 65 years of age and with a diagnosis of dementia from three facilities and offered them a 12 week program to engage in computer activity for up to 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week (see "Feasibility of providing computer activities for nursing home residents with dementia".

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  6. CTRA/TRO Conference 2016

    CTRA/TRO Conference 2016

    This year, the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association (CTRA) and Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO) are joining together to offer one combined conference. Donna Ray, the founder of Keeping Busy, has been selected to be a speaker at the conference. Her talk, with the rather academic title of "Program Development and Delivery Based on Montessori for Dementia", is all about learning to expand and enhance the participants' use of Montessori techniques in their everyday practice. Perhaps it would be better titled "There's more to Montessori than folding towels and sorting coins"!

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  7. See me the way I see myself

    See me the way I see myself

    This cartoon is making the rounds, and the caption "How others see you is not important. How you see yourself means everything." is a wonderful sentiment for most of us. For people with dementia however, there's much more to it. How others see the person with dementia is important because they often depend on those people for their care. Those caregivers must understand how the person sees themselves and treat them accordingly. We don't have the benefit of seeing the shadow on the wall, we have to figure it out.

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  8. Nova Scotia Nurses Union Report on Long Term Care

    Nova Scotia Nurses Union Report on Long Term Care

    The Nova Scotia Nurses Union recently released a report on what they are calling "a crisis" in long-term care. The report says that Canada's health care system is lacking in resources to provide adequate care for people who can no longer live at home and require long-term care. The problems include a demoralized, understaffed workforce, excessive workloads and unsafe working conditions, the report says.

    While these same problems exist in other provinces, they are particularly acute in Nova Scotia because of the high proportion of seniors. The age of residents in long term care is also by far the oldest in Canada, with an average age of 88. All of this contributes to the problem, says the report.

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  9. The Popsicle Story

    The Popsicle Story

    I was recently visiting a facility on a hot day. While I was there the staff came around with a box of popsicles for the residents. The staff member approached each resident, reached into the box and handed them a popsicle. What a nice relief from the heat, and the residents appreciated it.

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  10. Music in Every Day Interactions for People with Dementia

    Music in Every Day Interactions for People with Dementia

    We've written a lot about the value of music therapy as a means of helping people with Alzheimer's and dementia. Research shows that music can calm stress-induced agitation, change mood and facilitate cognitive function.

    According to Alicia Ann Clair, professor and director of the Division of Music Education and Music at the University of Kansas, this occurs because "rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing". She says that "A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success".

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