January 21, 2020 —With book clubs, monthly newsletter articles, a memory enhancement course and dementia awareness training, Kendal at Oberlin residents and staff have been “re-imagining dementia” for some time, which is why they were invited to present at the Dementia Action Alliance’s “Re-Imagining Dementia” conference in Atlanta this summer.
Residents Carol Bojanowski and Elizabeth Hole along with Michele Tarsitano-Amato, Creative Arts Therapy Director, shared stories about how staff and residents at Kendal, a continuing care retirement community, have helped its community better understand and support those living with dementia.
Focus on Kendal Book Clubs
Their presentation focused on the staff/resident book clubs in which participants read Christine Bryden’s “Dancing with Dementia” and “Dementia Beyond Disease: Enhancing Well-Being” by G. Allen Power. The women also shared information about in-service programs developed and shared by the Dementia Education group.
One of the unique qualities at Kendal is its collaboration between staff and residents, which is a different approach than most other communities and programs. Staff from the Dementia Action Alliance said this staff/resident collaboration was “very powerful.”
“I think dementia particularly threatens our community, given that we have so many residents who are professors and highly educated. We hope the book clubs will help to start a campus-wide dialogue on how to continue relationships with residents living with dementia,” said Elizabeth Hole, who wrote an article about Kendal’s dementia programs for the Dementia Action Alliance website.
Conference Emphasizes Empowering People with Dementia
Carol and Elizabeth shared highlights of the conference at a recent monthly “Afternoon Exchange” for the Kendal community. People with dementia participated and presented at the DAA conference, which focused more on empowering people with dementia than on caring for them.
The Kendal conference session was “standing room only.” There were many questions from the audience, though it seemed the biggest surprise concerned the Jameson House, a 12-bedroom neighborhood that offers residents with mild to moderate cognitive changes a supportive, warm and creative “small house” environment. The house, which opened in early 2018, is not a “locked” space, but rather built to allow residents to come and go freely with safety procedures in place where needed.
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