living your best to the end

Connectivity and Cyber Seniors

Cyber Seniors: the growing internet demographic For the legion of cyber seniors, age 60-90 who rely on internet access to stay connected,  it will come as no surprise that I put forward, in a recent tv panel, ‘internet for free’  for the elderly and low income as a number one priority: Lest that seem a frivolous request, one in three cyber seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. This figure is from most recent report from Pew Research Center: Older adults and internet use – dated 2012 and  likely already outdated. Also from this report: Social networking site use among seniors has grown significantly over the past few years: From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among internet users ages 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011. As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users ages 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. So increasingly important is access to the internet for this ‘demographic’ that cyber seniors services to help master connectivity and take advantage of the riches offered by the digital world are much in demand. Take TechBoomers: free educational website that teaches older adults with limited computer skills how to use the most popular and trusted websites: cyber safety at its best. Some of their most popular courses include: How to use PayPal, How to use eBay, and Introduction to Internet Safety. To quote LifeHackers’ Alan Henry  The team behind the service started it because, well, they’re the folks their parents always...

Bringing Creativity into Clinical Practice with Older Adults.

It was a day of music, arts and drama, of passion and compassion, entitled, Bringing Creativity into Clinical Practice with older adults. Bringing creativity into a Clinic Day brought relief and hope to many working with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. The presentation was refreshingly unlike most clinical education and on breaks, we were greeted by a Drum Circle, lead by Terri Segal, Expressive Arts Therapist, Not just a demonstration, we were encouraged to pick up a percussion tool and join in. A combination exercise and mental health break. Another presenter – a psychiatrist –  showed photography assignments from nursing home residents, whose average age was 87, entitled: “A View of the World though the eyes of the Elderly: I’m 90 going on middle Age.” One of the photos – a self-portrait assignment – won first prize at an art show: it had been submitted anonymously and the winner surprised everyone when she wheeled over to accept. Robin Glazer, Director of the Creative Center: Arts in healthcare, in NYC was quick to point out that her ‘arts’ are not the same as Art Therapy. “There is no agenda here. It’s de-stressing and fun. We have excellent artists who are flexible and design their approach to the audience. For example, in a group of Japanese elders, our artist started with simple Japanese brush strokes: something they’d be familiar with.” She told of her own experience – which she attributes to honing her observational skills through art appreciation: “I was invited to Grand Rounds at a hospital that one of our artists is at. I saw a young man with an unexplained...

Room 217: Care Through Music

Guest blog by Bev Foster A lot of life happens in rooms and so does a lot of death. One room I will always remember is Room 217, where my mom, five siblings, and I sang around dad’s bedside as he was dying in a hospital northeast of Toronto. Whether it was the lingering words, simple melodies, or our faltering voices, what was undeniable was the calming and soothing impact of our music on dad in this sacred space. Music had been my way of connecting with dad in life, and it became my way of supporting him at poignant moments during the course of his illness. This final experience in Room 217 compelled me to ask some deeper questions. Why was music never offered to dad, live or recorded at the hospital? What did other families do while they waited and held vigil? Did they use music? Would they use music if it was designed for palliative care? Are there especially designed music resources for to accompany families in life threatening or complex care circumstances? The answers to those questions led me to create the Room 217 Foundation in 2009. Our mission is care through music. We do this in three ways: Producing research-informed, and artistically excellent music care resources targeted for specific situations and populations. These resources are ready and easy to use. Providing music care education for caregivers who want to learn how to integrate music into their regular care practice through the annual Music Care Conference, the Music Care Certificate Program, free monthly music care webinars, and workshops. Collaborating on research that optimizes or advances...

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients share hope and humour

“I’m 62. I was diagnosed at 46. You do the math” Christine Bryden, Person with Dementia 16 years of living with Alzheimer’s and Christine Bryden’s making the audience of 300 laugh and cry at A Changing Melody: A learning and sharing forum for persons with Early Stage Dementia and their partners in care. No surprise that Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease (Cancer being #1). What I learned from the Forum helped put that fear into more practical perspective.   On overcoming fear and stigma: Fear of what others may think often prevents getting diagnosis. Get in early and get help early! Your life has meaning. Focus on relationships based on love and connectedness. Don’t let fear mask your worth. Reach out over the barrier of stigma to help overcome fears. (author’s note: doesn’t that apply to many health issues?) (An example from an audience member) “I talk to people in airplanes about having dementia. At first, they simply don’t believe it.”  (love it: educating a captive audience) From Mary McKinley, Canada (who organizes social events at retirement home, she uses an online journal set up by her son.) “Feeling is, we with dementia have no insight. That is so wrong! I have to use drugs to help deal with anxiety in others. Noise and sound are amplified. Multiple conversations are  really hard. Part of my brain that controls anxiety has no sense of proportion; Key words are: SLOW DOWN! The processor in my brain is struggling. When I need I quiet time, hiding out in the bathroom is a solution. However, my brain doesn’t send ‘bathroom’ signals....

Personal Support Worker (PSW): caring at life’s end

Dealing with grief and End of Life as a Personal Support Worker Guest Post by Natrice Rese It’s something that you are prepared for as a student.  It is understood that as a caregiver, a PSW, you will maintain a distance, a separation, a formal kind of relationship with your clients and residents. But when you actually begin the job you quickly find out that it is not quite as easy to deal with when you can put faces, names and personalities to the residents you care for.  Close connections bring an affection for your clients and vice versa.  Personally I found it hard to be at a distance: When you give total and personal support to residents you can’t help but have feelings of friendship, protection, and empathy that is by nature what a caregiver has in his or her “toolbag”. I recall one particular lovely lady who was often in my care in the facility where I worked.   I will call her “Mary”. Mary had brilliant silver hair and very blue eyes, lots of smiles, laughs and mischievous looks. She was obviously loved by her family and had visits often. Mary was dealing with many issues: she endured a stroke that limited her movement and mobility.  She also had dementia so she needed a lot of support, smiles, hugs, and conversation. Although Mary was confined to a wheelchair she was able to roll her chair around the halls and with one hand surprisingly strong. She was as continually busy as a small child is, always on the move, always into something – often trying to exit through doors, enter...