G8 health ministers commit to curing dementia by 2025

OMNI administrator shares thoughts on international plan

Thursday, December 12, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The health ministers of the world’s eight largest economies committed on Wednesday to finding a cure for dementia, a condition affecting an estimated 44 million people worldwide, including 500,000 Canadians, by 2025.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

It’s estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have some form of dementia by 2031.

Meeting at a G8 conference in London, U.K. to address the issue of dementia and what can be done to find a cure, health ministers from Canada, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan agreed to create a “dementia envoy” dedicated to promoting research into finding a cure.

The first step to finding a cure for dementia will be to appoint the envoy, who will be tasked with assembling international expertise and obtaining research funding from public and private sectors.

The conference drew attention to the fact that $12 billion worldwide has been spent on research to cure dementia, yet there has been little success in the process.

With the populations of G8 nations aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, the ministers concluded.

Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski sees the impact dementia has on residents and staff members every day. With most long-term care residents affected by some form of cognitive impairment, it’s a condition that needs addressing, she says, adding the G8 health ministers’ commitment is a step in the right direction.

“I think (this is) very positive because they’re focusing on geriatrics and they’re focusing on dementia and the elder population — people are living longer and people are taking better care of their (physical) health, so dementia is only going to become a bigger issue in the future,” she tells the OMNIway.

“The fact that (the G8 health ministers) have set a goal, they’re talking about it and it’s becoming news is important because that’s something that you never would hear before. This is a significant step.”

Canada is the only G8 country without a national dementia strategy. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose noted in an interview with reporters at the conference that to develop a national strategy in Canada, the federal government and provinces will need to collaborate.

Responding to this, Szczebonski says Ontario is advanced in dementia research and that there’s room for the provinces to meet and discuss what they are each doing and then federally implement successes seen in each of the 10 regions.

“This (would be) reflective of what’s working (across Canada),” Szczebonski says.

Szczebonski points to the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program as an example of what’s already working well in dementia care. While not focused on finding a dementia cure, BSO does foster best practices in preventing behavioural responses in people affected by dementia through non-pharmaceutical interventions.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

OMNIway explores sexuality, safety in LTC

Series to unpack issues including rights, risks and regulations

December 11, 2013 — Natalie Hamilton 

In one long-term care home, romantic sparks fly between a man and a woman who live in the same residence.

The man is married to another woman.

In another long-term care home, a man with dementia inadvertently enters the wrong room and starts going through personal belongings.

Men and women living together, coupled with cognitive impairment, can present a host of moral, ethical, safety and security issues.

The OMNIway is taking a closer look at sexuality and safety in long-term care. Through a series of stories, interviews and videos, Axiom News will explore the rights, risks and regulations related to the issue of sexuality and safety.

We’ll provide a glimpse into the realities of people of the opposite sex living together and their inclination to maintain or find new relationships. We’ll look at how those relationships help them maintain the quality of life similar to couples residing elsewhere. The OMNIway will look into the home’s role when a relationship is mutual.

We’ll also explore what happens when the desire is one-sided or an act is triggered by confusion and how OMNI intervenes to keep residents safe.

We’ll look at the supportive measures in place to prevent people with dementia from wandering and how to support those who are confused, while protecting their dignity and maintaining a safe environment for all people who reside in the home.

“Safety and security is our No. 1 priority,” OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

Confusion and wandering as a result of cognitive impairment can occur in long-term care homes and “it’s a behaviour we need to monitor and to take into account when we design and carry out our plan of care for each resident,” McCarthy says.

It’s an issue that is growing as homes receive more residents with complex conditions, such as mental health and dementia-related behavioural challenges.

One of OMNI’s signature core programs is called supportive measures. The program strives to provide an individualized approach to care for residents, with or without dementia. Supportive measures strategies include one-to-one interventions to identify the causes of anxiety and agitation and put processes into place to help residents feel calm and secure in their home.

In addition to supportive measures, OMNI incorporates Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) into its training policies and procedures. BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation.

Stay tuned to the OMNIway for stories unpacking these issues.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.ca or call Axiom News at 800-294-0051.

A Cure for Derek? Alzheimer’s Society Video

Yvonne is a cancer survivor, but Derek has dementia that can’t be cured.

Drugs that reduce the symptoms but do not cure dementia were developed four decades after drugs that can cure some cancers became available. A new Alzheimer’s Society video launched today (Monday 9 December) ahead of the G8 dementia summit in London this week, outlines the generation gap between key milestones in dementia and cancer research. (Video courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Society.)

The video is simple, poignant and enlightening.

Served up by the Alzheimer’s Society in advance of the G8 Summit on Dementia, the timeline stretches through Derek and Yvonne’s life.

It points out that while there has been remarkable strides in cancer research during this couple’s lifetime? Alzheimer’s is still regarded by many countries as an orphan disease, the natural outcome of aging.

Only it isn’t. Diet, exercise and a non-sedentary approach to life after 50 all combine to stave off the onset of dementia.

Hope and Change – The G8 Dementia Summit Blogs

People Blogging about People… and Dementia

Canada is the only country in the G8 without a comprehensive Dementia Strategy.

Canada is the only country in the G8 without a comprehensive Dementia Strategy.

Blogs

The UK Dept of Health is publishing a series of blogs about dementia in the run-up to the G8 dementia summit, which is being held in London on 11 December 2013.

These blogs are also on the UK Dept. of Health Dementia Summit Website.

Video: Beth Britton talks about her dad and dementia

This short film of Beth Britton is one of a series recorded to show to delegates at the G8 Dementia Summit on 11 December 2013. … Read more →– Video: Beth Britton talks about her dad and dementia

Published: 10 December, 2013 | In BlogsHome | Tagged 

Three words to describe being diagnosed with dementia – Hilary Doxford

There are 3 words I think best sum up my experience of being diagnosed with dementia: fear, despair and hope. Fear I feel fear and … Read more →– Three words to describe being diagnosed with dementia – Hilary Doxford

Published: 9 December, 2013 | In BlogsHomeImproving research

Working together for better research – Susie Hewer

In my last blog about the G8 Dementia Summit I ended with a comment about Teamwork (Together Everyone Achieves More) and I’ve been gathering my …Read more →– Working together for better research – Susie Hewer

Published: 7 December, 2013 | In BlogsHome

Cultural projects can make a difference in clinical services – Professor Robert Howard

The Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia Clinical Academic Group is a partnership between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the Institute of … Read more →– Cultural projects can make a difference in clinical services – Professor Robert Howard

Published: 6 December, 2013 | In BlogsHome

What difference can you make to dementia research? – Dr Laura Phipps, Alzheimer’s Research UK

As the UK’s leading dementia research charity, people often ask us whether they can help with the research effort in dementia. The answer is yes … Read more →– What difference can you make to dementia research? – Dr Laura Phipps, Alzheimer’s Research UK

Published: 5 December, 2013 | In BlogsHomeImproving research

 

Programme for G8 Dementia Summit published

Information courtesy of UK Dept of Health

You can watch live coverage of the G8 dementia summit on the homepage of the Dementia Challenge site on 11 December and follow #G8dementia on Twitter.

The programme has been published for the G8 Dementia Summit on 11 December in London. It includes details of speakers, discussion topics and panel members. The event will be facilitated by Vivienne Parry, science writer and broadcaster.dementia-summit-logo

Speakers include:

G8 Ministers and the European Commission will deliver prepared statements as part of the opening session.

The topics for discussion during the day include:

  • improving life and care for people affected by dementia and their carers
  • preventing and delaying dementia
  • social adaptation to global ageing and dementia

The press conference will take place at 3pm.

You can watch live coverage of the G8 dementia summit on the homepage of the Dementia Challenge site on 11 December and follow #G8dementia on Twitter.

Read G8 Dementia Summit Programme.

 

Study claims singing show tunes may stave off dementia symptoms

“Popular songs help enhance cognition, quality of life for people with dementia, research shows”

November 14, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Musical activities are always popular in long-term care homes, and new research is suggesting that singing — particularly show tunes — can stave off the impact of dementia.

“The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

The results of the study conducted by U.S. researchers indicates that residents who are encouraged to sing show tunes, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and When You Wish Upon a Star, demonstrate improved cognition and enhanced quality of life.

During a four-month period, the scientists studied nine people affected by dementia who regularly sing show tunes at their eastern U.S. long-term care home. The residents are involved with a choir designed by the researchers. The residents were led in a 50-minute chorus of a variety of show tunes three times per week. This is why this is common practice in many care homes similar to Home Care Heroes.

The original choir consisted of 18 residents. The nine residents who did not participate in singing during the course of the study observed those who did. Results between the two groups of residents were compared.

The study indicates that singing show tunes is particularly beneficial to residents with moderate to severe dementia.

Scans on residents involved with the study showed enhanced activity in various regions of the brain; a factor scientists believe is the result of singing songs from The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and Pinocchio.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jane Flinn of George Mason University in Virginia is one of the researchers involved with the study. Based on the study’s results, Flinn recommends long-term care homes consider encouraging residents with cognitive impairment to sing show tunes.

“Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful,” Flinn told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

Click here for more information on the study.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Kellie Bennett’s caring approach to programming recognized

‘Her respect and genuine regard for each individual resident comes through clearly in both her words and actions’

October 24, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Creating meaningful programming for residents affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia is a challenge for most programming departments, but one Garden Terrace life enrichment worker embraces that challenge — and gets positive results.

Because of her tenacity and resident focus, life enrichment aide (LEA) Kellie Bennett has been nominated for the Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award, which will be announced Oct. 26 during the You and Me for Memories Evening to Remember Gala in Ottawa.

In her letter to the nomination committee, Garden Terrace administrator Carolyn Della Foresta praises Bennett’s ability to engage residents and get a positive reaction.

“I have watched as Kellie has sung her heart out as she walks around a room, reaching forward and clasping residents’ hands in an effort to engage them — I have watched those residents respond to this gesture in a way I have never seen them respond to other staff,” says Della Foresta.

“She can elicit a smile, a wink, a hug from people that many would consider unreachable. . . . Kellie shows incredible patience with residents as they try to complete a task for themselves during a program — she doesn’t rush them — she encourages them and then she celebrates with them.”

Bennett takes a personalized approach when working on an activity with residents affected by cognitive impairment, often changing her methods until she finds an intervention that works. Often, a resident will enjoy an activity they didn’t think they wanted to do, simply because of Bennett’s kind, caring approach.

And Bennett always upholds residents’ dignity, Della Foresta adds.

“Her respect and genuine regard for each individual resident comes through clearly in both her words and actions,” she says.

The Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award is given out annually during the You and Me for Memories and Evening to Remember Gala to front-line caregivers in the Ottawa region who have shown outstanding performance in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

You and Me for Memories is a grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research. It was started in 2008 by family members of Garden Terrace residents.

— More to come

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

PSW praised for focus on ensuring people’s dignity

Birru Firew nominated for Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award

October 22, 2013 — Deron Hamel

On any given day, Garden Terrace personal support worker (PSW) Birru Firew can be found working with residents affected by cognitive impairment and going above and beyond his responsibilities.

Firew often takes on tasks that increase his workload, says administrator Carolyn Della Foresta. But because his No. 1 priority is residents he never shows an ounce of stress, she adds, noting he exhibits patience, kindness and genuine caring every day.

Ensuring residents living with dementia maintain their dignity is of utmost importance to Firew, says Della Foresta, adding she has seen the PSW encourage residents to complete tasks independently. When they do, Firew is standing there with a big smile.

This is why the administrator has nominated Firew for the Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award, which will be announced Oct. 26 during the You and Me for Memories Evening to Remember Gala in Ottawa.

“His respect and reverence for each of the residents entrusted to his care is evident in his words, his actions and his smile,” says Della Foresta in her nomination.

“His soothing and calm approach with his residents can be described as angelic.  Even though his workload is tremendous and his duties are taxing, no one around him would ever know and the residents he is caring for would certainly never feel that he is experiencing any stress.”

As a testament to Firew’s gift as a caregiver, Della Foresta says the PSW has amazing success working with female residents. This, she notes, is often challenging for male caregivers, but Firew’s caring nature overcomes this, she says.

“I believe that our residents see in Birru what each of us would so desperately long for if we were in their shoes — I believe they see comfort.”

Della Foresta tells the nominating committee that Firew doesn’t expect any recognition for his work — for him it’s all about the residents.

“Nothing with Birru is for show — it is genuinely who he is and how he desires to care for his residents,” she says.

“He can often be seen reassuring a resident, calming them down when they are upset for no apparent reason and in doing so preserving their pride and helping them back to a place of peace.”

The Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award is given out annually during the You and Me for Memories and Evening to Remember Gala to front-line caregivers in the Ottawa region who have shown outstanding performance in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

You and Me for Memories is a grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research. It was started in 2008 by family members of Garden Terrace residents.

— More to come