You're correct in that these are different approaches to the central issue of how we can improve quality of life while also keeping folks safe when dementia enters the picture. Exciting stuff!
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In recent years, the Dementia Friendly America organization has taken off, in which many US states have started initiatives to promote “dementia friendly” communities. The idea is that, rather than institutionalize people with dementia, a better quality of life might be possible if people are able to remain a part of the community, as independent as possible. To keep people in the community, it takes the collaborative effort of all aspects of the town or city, from the health care systems to banks, restaurants, and law enforcement. For example, one part of the initiative is to encourage dementia friendly businesses in the community, where employees are trained to recognize when a person has dementia, communicate with that person, and know how to find resources for the person with dementia if needed. You can find a list of state-by-state resources here http://www.dfamerica.org/dfa-communities/
While the Dementia Friendly America programs are a good start, a few European cities have been able to undertake a much bolder, all-encompassing approach. Instead of trying to find ways to accommodate persons with dementia into an existing community, an entire village is created – designed from the ground up with memory problems in mind.
Let’s take a closer look at an experimental village in southwest France. Set to open in 2019, this 12-acre facility is a scaled-down town, complete with things like a restaurant and grocery store as well as a garden and farm where residents can stay active with interesting, productive tasks. The facility will be secure as a whole, but will allow the kind of freedom of movement between home and the community that people are used to having. The village will incorporate research measures into the daily life to gauge the effectiveness of this living situation compared to a traditional nursing home. Check out these stories for more details:
Personally, I get really excited reading about these rather radical approaches to making not only a safe place to live, which is the main goal of a skilled nursing facility (aka nursing home), but also a rich, vibrant, fulfilling place to live, which is often lacking at these facilities. I will be anxious to see the results of this and other similar experimental memory villages. If successful, hopefully we will see these in the United States in the not so distant future, as well!
Chime in below, and let us know what you think of this concept.
After a hiatus of over 1 year, we are thrilled to announce that the HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking Program ® has returned to regularly scheduled sessions in Rochester, Minnesota. The team is a mix of staff who primarily work in the La Crosse, Wisconsin Mayo Clinic Health System location, and others who work in Rochester.
If you’re unfamiliar with the HABIT program for people with Mild Cognitive Impairment and their care partners, check out this page to learn all about it!
Our session included 8 wonderful couples/partnerships from around the country. The location was the scenic Assisi Heights conference center, and many patients and partners enjoyed being able to get outside for a stretch break and some fresh air. As is usually the case, patients and partners found a sense of community with one another, and left feeling motivated to continue working on their new HABITS!
Our next session will be in October, 2018, followed by 4 sessions in 2019. The goal is to make this “Rochester” HABIT a Midwest HABIT program, with offerings in La Crosse as well.
Thanks to the patients, partners, and staff who helped make this special session a success!
Photo of staff from left to right: Carolyn Isaak, M.S. (Yoga & Meditation Teacher), Jennifer Loepfe, B.A. (Cognitive Trainer), Angelina Polsinelli, Ph.D. (Neuropsychology Fellow), Anni Shandera-Ochsner, Ph.D., L.P. (HABIT MN Director), Joanne Nordeen, M.S. (Cognitive Trainer), Miranda Morris, M.S. (HABIT Enterprise-wide Coordinator), Alissa Butts, Ph.D., L.P. (Neuropsychologist).
@bonniep, this is such a tough decision, and one I'm sure many others with a spouse diagnosed with MCI face. Often it does make sense to list someone other than your spouse as the surrogate decision-maker, given the uncertainty about what your spouse's cognitive capacity may be in the future. This can be a good topic to discuss as part of the larger "planning for the future" discussions you and your spouse have.
Hi Nancy, you certainly can start with an attorney. They should be knowledgeable about the requirements for such a document in your area. The other options listed above are alternatives that would not come with a legal fee. Nice to hear you are being proactive in getting this taken care of!
A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) comes with a lot of uncertainty. Shortly after your discussion with your doctor, you may have wondered what your diagnosis means for the future. Many people worry about being a “burden” on their loved ones in the future, especially if MCI turns into dementia.
While we cannot predict the future with certainty, we do know that having MCI increases the likelihood of dementia, which means that you may eventually need help making major decisions due to the thinking problems that come along with your condition.
This is tough to think about, and many people push this topic to the side, saving it for later. The problem is, families often find that “later” gets pushed out farther and farther away, right up until there is a crisis. By that point, the initial memory or other thinking problems may be much worse, and the person unable to fully participate in the decision making process. This is a stressful situation for other family members, who are left with the anxiety of not knowing exactly what their loved one would have wanted when faced with the issue at hand. No one wants to put their family in this position. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent this.
An advance directive is a legal document that can be “activated” or put into effect in the event that you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. A physician or psychologist must make this determination based on a thorough examination of you at the time your capacity (ability) to make decisions is in question. The document specifies:
How to Get Started
You can fill out an advance directive well in advance of needing one. It’s a good idea for every adult to fill one out, regardless of whether you think you will need it in the future. Because the legal requirements for the document can vary from state to state, it’s important to use your local resources to help you get started.
Once you’ve completed your advance directive form and had your signature witnessed, make time to do the following:
Have you completed your advance directives yet? Any tips for others who are considering this?
Turn on the television or radio and chances are it won’t take long before you hear an advertisement for “brain training” computer game programs that are meant to give your brain a workout and prevent dementia. The claims made in the advertisements sound great – but can we really give our brains a workout by playing games on a computer or smartphone?
What does the research say?
So, what’s the bottom line?