Australia’s Dogs 4 Dementia is Expanding!

Great news! Australia’s dogs 4 dementia program is expanding! Yeah! I remember seeing their booth at a dementia conference in 2012 thinking, wow I hope that this program continues to grow because it sure is a fantastic idea.

This is a collaboration between Hammondcare and Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA). A six to ten months training is required before the lovely dogs start assisting The assistance dogs can help to provide
– a routine
– help with reminders
– emotional support
– help around the house (close cupboards, pick up items etc.)

Here’s a video from ABC about Dogs 4 Dementia (See below), for an earlier post with more videos on dogs caring for people with dementia in Australia and in Scotland, read Happy National Dogs Day. Or click here for the ABC article on Dogs 4 Dementia.

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An Amazing Music and Memory Program for Dementia

If you have 5 mins today, you’ve got to watch this video on music, memory and dementia that is being carried out in the Redleaf manor aged care home in New South Wales, Australia. The video (ABC iview-catalyst) shares with viewers insight into this new programme on personlised playlist that can greatly improve the quality of life and well-being of the individual.

The programme helps people to
– reconnect with family
– brings people out of their shell
– brings out positive emotions

Music should be accessible in all care facilities, and prescribed music can help to elevate agitation and reduce the use of antipsychotics (medications)in a study by Standford University.

Music is the only stimulus that activates a range of centres in the brain, aside from memories (temporal lobe and amygdala), music also touches on the movement centres and emotional. This gives answers to the reactions that occur when a person with dementia listens to music despite the progressive deterioration of the brain.

Looking back at our infants, how many of us have played music or sang our babies to sleep? In prelinguistic stages, the environment consists of music and sounds of happiness or sadness or fear. Babies react to the powerful effect of music.

Music is a powerful medium that it is pivotal to our brain’s health.

You can watch the 30min episode here but it’s only available for people living in Australia
http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/catalyst/SC1502H006S00, for those living outside of Australia you can try this link http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4421003.htm .

Care staff gets a taste of living with dementia

Oxford Brookes University has devised a training programme to help staff working with people with dementia to come close to understanding the experience of living with dementia. This programme is carried out by a facilitator and participants have to wear a stimulation suit as part of the process. This aids the experiential learning process and creates some awareness of the needs of the individual with dementia.

The programme has proved to be successful and has helped care workers to better understand the experience of living with dementia; and in turn influence and improve the quality of care that they provide to the people they care for.

You can read more about the programme here here http://www.chc.brookes.ac.uk/training/dementia-simulation

 

 

Illegal Money Lenders, Domestic Helpers, Family Caregivers & Dementia

Recent news reports from Hong Kong have highlighted the plight of four domestic helpers that committed suicide as a result of being victims of debt and association with illegal money lenders.

In countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, domestic helpers are needed in the community. They provide support and care for many older adults living in the community allowing them to age in place in their homes (Yeo 2014); this includes people with or without dementia. Many of helpers are live in caregivers for older adults; providing round the clock care, be it toileting at three in the morning or escorting them to an activity at three in the afternoon, they will be there. Live in helpers provide a much-needed service and care for many of us who strive to keep our loved homes at home instead of institutionalisation, think nursing home.

clean-house-vector

 

For those who are not familiar with foreign domestic help in Asia, you may wish to read the two article below.

Read about Mylene and Yu Heng’s story here

Read about Ms Mersi Fransina Missa story here

Live-in domestic helpers consist of mostly women from Philipines, Myanmar, Indonesia or even Thailand. The job of a domestic helper covers a range of responsibilities;

  • Cooking nutritious culturally specific meals
  • Ensuring clean and sanitary environment
  • Carrying out personal hygiene
  • Household maintenance
  • Provide activities as specified by the employers or therapist
  • Escorts and transport
  • Nursing care. (Nursing care may cover anything from medication administration, basic wound dressings to cleaning out a colostomy bag.)

Our loved ones with dementia who are being cared for by these dedicated helpers, may not be able to recognise the signs of stress that helpers may be experiencing when faced with debt. It is important that guardians, employers and policy makers provide the support and education to ensure that the helpers caring for our older adults do not fall prey to these manipulative schemes. Migrating to a foreign country to care for an older adult is not an easy task, leaving family and friends to provide 24-hour care to a stranger. Yes, there is an acknowledgement of choice and payment, but that is not to say that it is a difficult task none the less.Open communication, education about finances and an outlet to seek help to helpers is needed. This will help to prevent them from becoming a target for loan sharks/illegal money lenders who show up at the door and harassing the helper.

In a news article from Philstar global, Emily Lau, a Legislative Councillor from Hong Kong was quoted as saying “The main reason these women are in debt is because governments allow agents to collect so much money from them.” On top of that, the South China Morning Post had reported that agencies were found working with creditors, imposing loans on helpers at rates so high that they are deemed illegal. Caught in a distant land, with family at home to support, harassed by money lenders and debt appears to have no end in sight. It is sad that lives are lost because of these vile schemes.

robber-vector-set

For the hardworking and dedicated helpers who are protecting our loved ones with dementia from institutionalisation and helping them to maintain a good quality of life. We need to in turn assist them and ensure they do not fall prey to scheming smooth talking illegal moneylenders. These illegal money lenders or loan sharks promise fast and easy solution; on the pretence of providing helpers with a hand with loans. Only to trap them in a mountain of debt, bound with harassment and threats that have resulted in a lost of lives due to these tragic circumstances.

Secrets to Confidence, Empathy & Happiness

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow

in more light.

–Vera Nazarian

Reading can bring us happiness, increase empathy and give us the confidence we need. Scientific America  published an article suggesting the data from a study conducted by social psychologist Emanuele Castano in New York found that reading literary fiction can improve our levels of empathy and social skills. This way we are able to relate better with others and build stronger, lasting and meaningful relationships and impact how happy we feel.

Reading can also change alter our neuron connectivity in a positive way as seen in the video below. In another study led by neuroscientist Gregory Berns, (Director of Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy) he found that a novel can transport the reader into the shoes of the protagonist, not just figuratively but from a biological aspect as well. Reading about something that we may want to do might actually make us more confident in the execution of the action.

We keep reading, both in good times and bad; because reading can really help to improve our confidence, cognition, empathy and happiness.

Keep reading!