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Donna's Blog

Donna's Blog

Thoughts, concepts and ideas about dementia care...

  1. Nova Scotia Dementia Strategy

    Nova Scotia Dementia Strategy

    The long awaited Dementia Strategy has just been released by the Nova Scotia government. It is a multi-pronged approach, with three key priority areas:

    1. Facilitate early diagnosis, treatment, care and support
    2. Coordinate care and supports across the system
    3. Enhance awareness and understanding about dementia
    Read more »
  2. Dementia Friends Canada

    Dementia Friends Canada

    The Dementia Friends Canada program is a joint initiative between the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the federal government. It is part of an international movement to raise public awareness about dementia.

    The idea is to become a "friend", learn more about living with dementia and then turn that knowledge into simple actions that can help. Simple things such as checking in with someone with dementia, volunteering, sharing information about dementia. Small things that can make a difference. Are you a Dementia Friend?

    Read more »
  3. CTRA Wrap Up - Donna's Take

    We were off to Newfoundland last week where I presented a talk entitled "Understanding and Creating Montessori Activities for People with Dementia" at the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association's annual conference. It was a great opportunity to meet recreation professionals from across the country and discuss the issues that affect us all. We had our products on display for attendees to see first-hand and they were very well received.

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  4. The Importance of "Active" Programs for Dementia

    The Importance of "Active" Programs for Dementia

    We all know that physical activity is of huge benefit to our health. It helps control weight, reduces risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and strengthens bones and muscles, among other things. Studies also show that it helps lower the risk of cognitive decline.

    These benefits can all help improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's and dementia, and help them maintain their abilities. By combining the physical aspect with an activity that is also mentally or socially engaging, the benefits can be multiplied.

    Read more »
  5. Care and Construction

    Care and Construction

    In 2011 a research project called Care and Construction was started in Nova Scotia, spearheaded by the Mount Saint Vincent Centre on Aging. The purpose of the project was to assess and identify factors that affect resident quality of life in different nursing home models of care, with the ultimate goal of disseminating that knowledge to improve care.

    Over the course of the next three years, the group collected information from residents, staff and family members, using surveys, interviews, observations and focus groups, then analysed that information. The results of this extensive research showed that the factors that most affect resident quality of life are:

    Read more »
  6. Hidden Musical Talent!

    Hidden Musical Talent!

    We often talk about the importance of encouraging someone with Alzheimer's or dementia to return to an old hobby, or even develop a new hobby while they are still able to do so. We wrote about it in our recent article about Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and we suggest it as a way to help a person with dementia stay active in our "Habits, Routines and Hobbies" article.

    Read more »
  7. Dementia Activity "Blitz"

    Here's something that you can try that has proven very successful for me. I call it an Activity "Blitz".

    Start by selecting four to six related activities. By "related", I mean that each activity has something in common – maybe have a "Puzzle Blitz" with different types of puzzles, a "Game Blitz" with different games, or a "Traditional Montessori Blitz" with different traditional Montessori activities. It makes it easier to switch activities between residents and to supervise the activities if they are all related.

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  8. Making Daily Interactions More Meaningful

    Making Daily Interactions More Meaningful

    While there are ten Montessori Principles for dementia care that are the cornerstone of the Montessori Methods for Dementia that we teach, the first three can be applied by everyone to almost every interaction with people with Alzheimer's or dementia, every day. It takes no extra time, just a little thought. By thinking about and using these principles every time we interact, we can add meaning and satisfaction to the person’s day and improve their quality of life.

    So what are these principles?

    Read more »
  9. Knowing the Person

    This past Remembrance Day, the importance of knowing the person was made dramatically clear to me. I visited a long term care home to help out. I gathered a small group of dementia residents and spent about 45 minutes doing Remembrance Day activities such as reading “In Flanders Field”, coloring poppies, reminiscing about going to the cenotaph and Remembrance Days past. Everyone in the group had a nice time and participated normally.

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  10. Using Multi-Sensory Environments for Dementia Care

    Using Multi-Sensory Environments for Dementia Care

    Therapeutic multi-sensory environments (such as Snoezelen rooms) are soothing and stimulating environments specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents, etc. The combination of different materials on a wall may be explored using tactile senses, and the floor may be adjusted to stimulate the sense of balance.

    The benefits of using such environments to help engage people with Alzheimer's and dementia have been known for some time. Many facilities have Snoezelen rooms installed, but they are often left unused. According to Dr. Jakob of Kingston University in London the reasons include the rooms not being set up in a comfortable way, staff not understanding the benefits and care workers not being trained on the proper use.

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