Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 |
I’ve been reading some articles of late that have me thinking about the changes afoot in the field of aging.
One was in AARP’s magazine on “Boost your Brain Health”, which features the new video games designed to challenge your mind in the hopes of reducing age-related memory loss. This is good – it’s like getting bifocals for the brain – a natural, preventative coping method that can improve our functioning as we age. But…I see these games like workout gyms, and I find workout gyms totally depressing – with their rows and rows of equipment where people plug into their i-pods and zone out with 50 people surrounding them, all plugged in and going back and forth on their machines in an oddly orchestrated yet totally disconnected rhythm.
I also saw an article about a program in England that has developed touch screen technology to help people with dementia do reminiscence, and also another program to help link them to the moment. They show a person working with them – which is good. But my fear is that this is another device to hook someone up to.
Do we really need a touch screen? Do we really need the computer games that have us find number patterns? To me, what works is engagement. Creative, in the moment engagement that looks past loss and develops/connects with remaining skills. We are developing a new website for TimeSlips to enable caregivers and people with memory loss to tell stories together and use technology to share in the process with relatives/friends/e-pals who are far away. It’s meaningful, creative engagement that is shared in person and electronically. It’s a tool to prompt in-person relationships and create a “web” of support around people with memory loss.
It’s fantastic to have inventive people addressing the needs of our aging population. MORE! We need More of them! But we should question the core concepts of every intervention. What is its attitude toward people with dementia? What is it replacing? What is it designed to do and why? We’ll only move forward if we continue to promote relationships with people with dementia, and assume their ability to grow/express themselves. We’ll only use brain boosters if they are meaningful – not medicinal.
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Posted in art, tagged end-of-life, photography, Toledano on March 9, 2010 |
I revisited this site when a friend from college emailed it to me (“thinking of you”). I love that about Facebook/internet, that these things that move people so much find their way to you again after their initial flurry. The bad jokes and shocking warning emails tend only to make it around once (thankfully).
Photographer Phillip Toledano’s collection of photos and comments about his intense love of his father (both parents really) and his time with him after his mother’s death is a moving account of the potential beauty of the end of life. Not beauty as his father saw it – as a young Hollywood actor. But beauty in the depth of human compassion and connection and the growth/learning that is possible only when we face the end of a long, love-filled life.
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Sitting in a new, fully wired conference room in the new, fully wired (with caffeine and technology) Soref Learning Commons in the UWM library, with 3 really smart students and a really smart colleague – in a heated discussion about discovering themes/images/iterations of the Penelope story that will inform our discussions with family, staff, and residents in long term care this fall. This project is a thrill…
By way of update, we’ve received a Wisconsin Humanities Grant and a Wisconsin Arts Board grant to support the project (via Luther Manor). We’ve received funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research to support two of our hearty team of students (paying them to do research!). The Brookdale Foundation and Helen Bader Foundation has granted us $16,000 and $20,000 respectively to support this project. The budget is large – so we have a ways to go – but we’re on the way.
The next steps for the student team are to create a presentation on the project for the National Association of Activity Professionals conference here in Milwaukee on April 16th. Three members of the Sojourn Theatre ensemble are coming into town (from all three coasts – New York, LA, and Chicago!) to participate in that presentation and in a training the next day at Luther Manor for staff, volunteers, students and ensemble members. The training is an introduction to person-centered care (or person-directed care, or relational care…) and creative engagement. We see this project as a way to demonstrate the core skills needed to get staff/family/residents on the road to more holistic care – which emphasizes the quality of life, not just physical maintenance.
Fore more on this project, see The Center on Age & Community website, and click on Creativity.
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