CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 7. Issue 1
Letter From the Editor:
Yesterday marked the first day of Spring, and with that, the promise of warmer weather, longer days and more outdoor activities. In this issue of our CareNotes Newsletter, we discuss the growing popularity of wearable fitness trackers and how they help promote regular physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. We also take a look at the efforts of the town Watertown, Wisconsin, to become more dementia-friendly. There, many businesses have trained employees in how to recognize and assist customers with dementia, a trend that is gaining momentum in Europe, Canada and other parts of the U.S. Finally, we highlight our new book, The Cognitive Therapeutics Method: Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Slowing the Cognitive and Functional Decline Associated with Dementia. Inspired by requests from patients and their family members for a well-researched guide that provides an understanding of the various causes of neurocognitive disorder—from Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s disease to Frontotemporal decline, among others—and the evidence for non-pharmacological interventions to slow cognitive and functional decline, the authors are confident the book will be an important contribution to neurocognitive care and aging literature. Last, but not least, I would like to congratulate our Caregiver of the Month, Dania Torees-Reyes form Home Care Assistance of Denton, TX. Dania’s spirit and passion for caregiving are evident in the superior care she provides to each and every one of her clients. We are lucky to have her as a member of the Home Care Assistance family!
Wearable Fitness Trackers: The Ultimate Accountability Tool for Seniors?
From wristbands, watches and necklaces to larger vest-like devices, the popularity and prevalence of fitness trackers has grown rapidly in the past few years. Also called “self-quantifiers,” fitness trackers are defined as wearable devices that monitor a person’s physical activity through recordings of heart rate, steps taken and/or calories burned. Not only do these devices monitor your movements, but many also give verbal commands. For example, a device may use your name to add a personal element of persuasion: “Mary. You’ve been sitting for three hours. Is it time for a walk?” While some may find this level of monitoring somewhat annoying, most agree that it is the ultimate way to measure and track how active we’re being in our daily lives.
Clinical psychologists have noted the importance of self-monitoring in maintaining overall health for decades. Want to motivate someone to stop smoking? Simply asking him or her to write down how many cigarettes he or she smokes each day, with no other instructions or information about health risks, will lead to a significant reduction in cigarettes smoked. Being mindful of our behaviors and feelings is what enables Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, to be so successful. Now, with the trend in wearable fitness trackers, the ability to monitor oneself and keep oneself accountable of fitness goals has been revolutionized. While the makers of these products initially envisioned their target demographic to be hardcore athletes, they have found that these devices hold mass allure.
The common theme across experiences with the trackers seems to be both a sense of satisfaction with activity gleaned from daily activities (e.g. not realizing that the leisurely morning walk with a neighbor was not the same as a rigorous, two mile walk each day), and an awakening into the activity “dead-zones” (e.g., learning that it’s typical to spend most of Sunday afternoons completely sedentary). As one blogger summarized in his review:
“At first, as I’d expected, I liked tracking myself. It lent a pleasing empiricism to my existence. I learned that on an average day—strolling to the subway, the office, and the lunch spot—I might tally 8,000 steps… On the flip side, I’d never realized quite how sedentary I become on winter weekends. Over the course of one snowy, couch-bound Saturday, I barely eked out 1,000 steps. I was like an obese panda lazing in a zoo habitat.”
These devices are truly powerful ways of increasing the level of knowledge each of us has about how we’re spending our days. They keep us accountable—there is no arguing with a step count.
And, seniors are not being left out of this revolution. In fact, the Columbus, Ohio Home Care Assistance office launched an innovative campaign called “Walk to Okinawa” where seniors are given wearable fitness trackers to record progress as they “walk” the 7,500 miles from Columbus, Ohio to Okinawa, Japan (the city renowned for being home to one of the longest living, healthiest populations in the world). Those who register receive a free pedometer and are asked to report their total steps to the office each week. The use of fitness devices to promote physical activity in seniors is an exciting area that we look forward to seeing develop further!
Have you used any of the wearable fitness trackers? What was/is your experience?
Becoming Dementia-Friendly: One Town’s Efforts to Improve the Lives of Others
In Watertown, Wis., small purple angels adorn the windows of nine local businesses. The markers signify that the businesses’ employees have been trained in how to recognize and assist customers with dementia.
Baristas working at the Connection Cafe, for example, will encourage customers suffering from memory loss to point to the cup size they would like for their coffee. At the State Bank of Reeseville, employees have been trained to spot signs that customers have been victims of a scam.
These efforts to make local businesses more dementia-friendly have been part of a larger initiative to educate Watertown’s 24,000 residents about dementia and to help keep those suffering from the condition more active and engaged in the community.
Although the movement to make communities more dementia-friendly is not a new concept in Europe, it is only now beginning to take effect in the United States and Canada. In Minnesota, the AARP Minnesota has already enlisted over 50 groups in the ACT on Alzheimer’s collaboration. The effort is designed to encourage communities to prepare for increasing numbers of residents with dementia.
Executive director of Alzheimer’s Speaks, Lori La Bey, who was responsible for helping to launch the dementia awareness movement in Watertown, calls the Watertown initiative “phenomenal.” Bey hopes that as more communities see the need to implement dementia-awareness efforts, the movement will continue to expand across the nation so that people with dementia will be able to continue to play an active part in society.
If you or a loved one suffers from dementia, please visit www.cognitivetherapeutics.com or call 650-213-8585 to find out how Cognitive Therapeutics Method can help you and your family.
New Activities-Based Program to Delay Cognitive Decline
Led by neuropsychologist and Executive Director of Research and Development at Home Care Assistance, Dr. Samuel T. Gontkovsky, a team of cognition experts released a guide to non-pharmacological neurocognitive care, The Cognitive Therapeutics Method: Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Slowing the Cognitive and Functional Decline Associated with Dementia. The authors were inspired by requests from patients and their family members for a well-researched guide that provides an understanding of the various causes of neurocognitive disorder—from Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s disease to Frontotemporal decline, among others—and the evidence for non-pharmacological interventions as a means to slowing cognitive and functional decline. The group is confident the book will be a highly important contribution to neurocognitive care and aging literature.
Neurocognitive Disorder, previously referred to as dementia, has been called the most significant global health challenge of the 21st century. As such, it has become increasingly important for clinicians and other professionals who work with older adults to have a thorough understanding of neurocognitive decline and the types of interventions most effective in improving cognition and functioning. The Cognitive Therapeutics Method builds upon the growing interest in the role of neuroplasticity in improved functioning in older adults living with diseases that can cause cognitive decline.
“Interventions targeting major cognitive disorder have become the veritable hot topic not only in neuropsychology and research settings, but also in the broader gerontology care circles,” said Dr. Samuel Gontkovsky, Executive Director of Research and Development of Home Care Assistance. “There has been increasing excitement as our understanding of neuroplasticity grows. However, it has been challenging for medical professionals and scholars to find a well-researched, balanced text that covers the area of non-medical treatments for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. We are addressing this gap with our book, which explores the evidence for non-pharmacological interventions in cognitive disorder.”
The Cognitive Therapeutics Method is a necessary addition to the library of every clinician, scholar, researcher, and other professional who routinely works with older adults. Through a well-balanced and engaging analysis of the current literature and an exploration of the evidence around the myriad modalities of non-pharmacological interventions targeting problematic behaviors, mood problems, overall functioning, quality of life and cognitive and functional declines, the book fills an important gap in our current approach to cognitive care.
“Our Research and Development Team at Home Care Assistance is bringing innovation to home care like never before, said Lily Sarafan, President of Home Care Assistance. “The Cognitive Therapeutics Method is a science-based cognitive stimulation program that is administered one-on-one to individuals with symptoms of neurocognitive impairment. While these types of programs have typically been reserved for clinical settings, CTM interventions are administered in the home where nine out of ten seniors prefer to live out their lives. Through this program and other Home Care Assistance initiatives, we hope to honor the wishes of the thousands of clients we’re privileged to serve – to remain in the comfort of home with trained, compassionate caregivers who can attend to their evolving needs.”
Home Care Assistance caregivers are professionally trained through our Cognitive Therapeutics Method program (CTM) to promote increased daily functioning through cognitive rehabilitation in the familiar home environment. The activities administered in CTM may delay the onset of symptoms by as many as 5 years for individuals who have not yet developed dementia, and can delay the progression of existing symptoms of cognitive decline. This program is one of a growing list of offerings in Home Care Assistance’s dementia care suite of services, which includes specialized caregiver trainings through Home Care Assistance University and various printed resources and public webinars for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The fifth book in our award-winning senior wellness book series, Mind Over Gray Matter: A New Approach to Dementia Care, received overwhelming praise for its accessible approach and practical guidance around dementia care and evidence-based techniques to improve the quality of life of those living with dementia.
Having a professional caregiver in the home is beneficial to both the client and the client’s family. Family members can take a break from their hectic caregiving schedules to relax and recharge, knowing that their loved one is receiving the highest-quality care available. Offering individualized care plans in the home also allows clients to maintain privacy and supports optimal function without the confusion and stress of adjusting to facility living.
For more information about CTM, an activity-based cognitive intervention program designed to delay the onset of new symptoms and the progression of existing symptoms in individuals experiencing cognitive decline, visit www.CognitiveTherapeutics.com.
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Dania Torres-Reyes
March’s Caregiver of the Month is Dania Torres-Reyes from Home Care Assistance of Denton, TX! One of the first hires at the Denton office, Dania’s compassion, energy and dedication set her apart from other caregivers and make her a favorite among clients. Whether Dania is caring for a client after dialysis or taking care of the family dog, she is always upbeat and helpful. Her calm demeanor and sweet smile make her clients feel immediately at ease.
Always willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of her clients, Dania was featured as the first Caregiver of the Month at the Denton office and is the go-to caregiver when the office needs someone to cover a last minute shift. “We know that when we send Dania out to care for a client, she will go over and above to make sure the client is comfortable, clean, and safe,” says Annette Bratcher, Owner of Home Care Assistance of Denton. “Her professional behavior and positive outlook make her a star! We’re so happy to have her!” We appreciate Dania’s dedication to her clients and our mission to change the way the world ages! Thank you for your positive outlook and hard work, Dania!