Dementia Care Digest


   Official newsletter of 

Dementia Care Professionals of America, a branch of the

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

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December 2014/Issue 5
A Message from AFA's National Care Standards Manager

The holidays are a special time of the year to be with friends and family, reflect upon the good things in our lives, and look forward to the year ahead. For many people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and their families, however, the holidays can also be difficult. Sadness about how a loved one has changed during the past year as a result of the disease, worry about making sure he/she is safe and happy during holiday gatherings and activities, and anxiety about maintaining everyday routines are all common emotions.


As professional care partners, the essence of our work-- to treat people with compassion and respect and support them through the ups and downs--reflects the spirit of this season. To help keep the cheer in the holidays, check out some tips from AFA and also try to lean on coworkers, friends, and family, when needed, to be sure you're taking time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.


With 2014 drawing to a close, DCPA would like to thank you for your dedication to providing high-quality care to the individuals with Alzheimer's disease and dementia for whom you care. The work you do is immeasurable.


Best wishes for a restful, healthy, and joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

In health,

Kristen Cribbs, MPH, QDCS
National Care Standards Manager
DCPA Happenings
2014 "Dementia Care Professional of the Year" Award Winners Announced 


DCPA is excited to announce our 2014 Dementia Care Professional of the Year award winners! Mr. Lorenzo Mejia is the owner of Acorn Home Care Services, Inc. in Carrboro, N.C. and Dr. Gary Steinke is associate chief of geriatrics at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif. Read more about the recipients here.

AFA Kicks Off Nationwide "Raise Your Voice for Care" College Tour


On November 5, AFA kicked off it's national "Raise Your Voice for Care" College Tour at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md. This new AFA initiative is seeking to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias on college campuses. To learn more about bringing dementia training and education to your college, or to get involved in a Raise Your Voice for Care event near you, please contact us!

On the Job: Tips for Providing Optimal Care
National Institutes of Health 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit

The "Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit 2015: Path to Treatment and Prevention" will be convened by the National Institutes of Health on February 9 and 10 in Bethesda, Md. The summit will review progress since the 2012 Summit and discuss a multidisciplinary Alzheimer's disease research agenda to develop effective prevention and treatment options by 2025. Register to attend the summit here or tune in online.  


Research Highlights Benefits of Sensory Stimulation in Dementia Carebrain


Recent research findings from a study conducted by scholars from Kingston University London and the University of Southampton in the U.K. have shed light on how multi-sensory environments can improve health outcomes among persons with dementia. "Sensory rooms provide gentle stimulation of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and movement in a controlled way," Dr. Anke Jakob, one of the study's principal investigators, explained. Read more about the research project and download a guidebook of recommendations for creating sensory-stimulating environments here. For an example of how one of AFA's member organizations has integrated sensory stimulation into their dementia programming, see "Care in Action" below.

In the News
  • An article in "The Atlantic" describes a cutting-edge Dutch care facility, designed as a village, for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. 

  • As discussed by The Center for Public Integrity, data recently compiled for Medicare revealed widespread discrepancies in staffing levels reported by nursing homes.

  • In a recent editorial for "The Hill," former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, contrasted the Ebola and Alzheimer's disease epidemics.

  • A "New Yorker" piece discusses a new video game, created by White Paper Games in Manchester, England, which attempts to simulate the experience of having dementia.

Care in Action

Staff at Phoebe Wyncote, a continuum of care retirement community in Montgomery County, Pa., sought to develop an innovative approach to provide persons with dementia opportunities for reminiscence and to help family members connect with their loved ones. The result? Pebbles on the Pond, a unique, personalized, sensory stimulation experience. The program, which is displayed on a touch screen monitor, provides an array of sensory stimulation options to people with dementia.


To create the personalized digital programs, persons with dementia and their families are interviewed to capture stories, photos, and music that draw upon fond memories and reflect preferences and interests. These items are then organized into digital displays that can be used during one-on-one interactions between persons with dementia, their family members, and staff to facilitate reminiscence and to provide mutual comfort and enjoyment. Each stimulation experience lasts approximately 20 minutes and can be supplemented by other sensory tools that the person with dementia prefers, including aromatherapy, a massage chair, and other tactile resources.


"Anecdotal feedback from the Pebbles on the Pond pilot has been overwhelmingly positive," said Cynthia Townsend-McHerrin, social services coordinator at Phoebe Wyncote, with family members expressing that the program provides them with opportunities to spend meaningful time with their loved ones reminiscing and experiencing the digital presentations together. Additionally, Townsend-McHerrin

noted that staff at Phoebe Wyncote are enjoying learning more about the individuals with dementia with whom they work and engaging in the creative activity of developing personalized "pebbles" of digital materials for each person to enjoy.



DCPA values your commitment to providing compassionate, creative, person-centered dementia care and believes that raising the bar on dementia care nationwide stems from working together and learning from one another's experiences.  In order to showcase the good work that you do, Dementia Care Digest will periodically feature an article about a DCPA member. We hope these stories will become a resource for, and inspiration to, you in your work.  Experience something memorable from your work with an individual who has dementia and/or his/her family?  Develop a unique/creative approach to solve a problem?  Attend an interesting conference?  Share your story for potential publication.
Continuing Education

Holidays are often the times when we notice changes in loved ones' memory abilities. The National Institute on Aging's handbook, "Understanding Memory Loss: What To Do When You Have Trouble Remembering" describes the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems, causes of memory problems and how they can be treated, and how to cope with serious memory problems. 

Learn more by viewing the handbook, and then take the corresponding Dementia Care Digest quiz to earn one Continuing Education Unit (CEU)*. 

*Professionals who are sanctioned as AFA Qualified Dementia Care Providers or AFA Qualified Dementia Care Specialists must renew their AFA qualification every two years by obtaining four CEUs.


Every hour of continuing education equals one credit. 30 minutes of content equals 0.5 credits. A program of less than 30 minutes in total is not applicable, and all intervals of less than 30 minutes are rounded down to the nearest 30-minute mark.

Completion of each Dementia Care Digest quiz equals one CEU.

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