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When your loved one suffers from dementia, taking them out can be extremely challenging. Many restaurants and stores are completely unprepared for handling customers with greater care needs, resulting in encounters that range from unpleasant to embarrassing.

But, there is an organization that is out to change that for you and your family.

In today’s episode, dementia-friendly business expert Gail Snyder and I discuss the dementia-friendly business movement, helpful exercise programs that you can do with your loved one, and a game-changing training that helps build empathy for dementia sufferers.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • Where to find businesses that identify as dementia-friendly (and what it means for your loved one) (4:32)
  • How recent events have changed the way dementia-friendly business serve you (6:48)
  • A revolutionary exercise program that helps your loved one strengthen their body and brain at the same time  (10:05)
  • A game-changing training that helps businesses understand what dementia patients go through in order to serve them better (12:35)
  • How you can help local businesses you support become dementia-friendly (4:25)

For daily 5-minute mind exercises, head over and like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hcafortworth/

You can also find additional support and resources by calling Home Care Assistance at 817-349-7599 or visit our websites https://www.homecareassistancefortworth.com/ and https://itsmyturntocare.com/.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “It’s My Turn To Care.” We know the challenges you face caring for someone with dementia. That's why each week we bring you tips, strategies, and most of all, support as you navigate your role as caregiver. Let's get started. [00:15.6]

Dave: Hello, this is Dave Parks with Home Care Assistance. I’m also a certified senior advisor, and you're listening to It’s My Turn To Care: Secrets for the Dementia Caregiver, where secrets and tips, and things that you can use as you care for a loved one with dementia.

Today, we have a very special guest, one of the first people I met when I got into the industry, and her name is Gail Snider, and Gail currently serves as executive director for Dementia Friendly Fort Worth and was instrumental in launching this initiative, which is now reaching beyond the borders of Tarrant County. [01:02.0]

Gail is committed to helping families and the community navigate age-related decisions. Having walked a 12-year journey with her mother-in-law who had dementia, she's got helpful insight into issues and services families desperately need. Gail has a passion to help the community understand dementia, and to help persons living with dementia and their care partners have a better quality of life within the community.

She understands that it's difficult for everyone to be experts in this area, but strives to be a resource and educator to improve knowledge. Gail is a certified Dementia Live coach, is a certified dementia care practitioner. She also serves as the co-chair for the Tarrant area Gerontological Society Faith-Based Bridge and has been a part of this committee since September 2004. [02:00.8]

Gail, welcome to It's My Turn To Care.

Gail: Thank you, Dave. It’s great to be here today.

Dave: Tell us how Dementia Friendly Fort Worth got its start and maybe a little bit about what the purpose of it is.

Gail: Dementia Friendly Fort Worth was launched in January 2018, and it was birthed out of an education program through the First United Methodist church of downtown Fort Worth, and this initiative is designed and our mission is to collaborate with community partners, to bring awareness and education about dementia, to help reduce the stigma and to make it easier for people living with dementia and their care partners to navigate within the community.

Dave: Can you talk a little bit about Dementia Friendly? Is this a national thing that is now impacting Fort Worth or did it originate in this area? [03:01.1]

Gail: There is a national initiative called Dementia Friendly America that was tested in other states in 2015, and through that education program that was developed at First Methodist, Linda bel, the president of Dementia Friendly Fort Worth, learned about Dementia Friendly America, and Fort Worth could launch the same type of initiative for this area. But at the time, everyone she spoke to said, “We'd love to do that, but there's no one to lead it.”

Dave: Okay, the reason I ask is because It's My Turn To Care is an international program, so if someone's living in another part of the United States, they could find out about maybe the program if it happens to be in their city.

Gail: Correct.

Dave: Okay, very good. Okay. So, tell me a little bit about how a business becomes dementia friendly, and how does this help someone who has dementia? [03:56.8]

Gail: There is an application process that a business can complete and the process is for any type of business, businesses that specifically work in senior care, but also things like restaurants, banks, post office, any service entity in the community, the dry cleaners, the auto repair shop, the car dealers. All of those are candidates for this program because the idea is that, as businesses adopt this practice, they will learn what dementia is, what it looks like and how to respond in a more positive way when they encounter someone who has dementia.

Then we set up some training for them to complete, to help them learn again what dementia is about, and then we do a site visit to make sure that their business location has things in place to make it easier for someone with dementia and someone who's in the aging population to navigate in their area business. [05:03.8]

Dave: Gail, that's important to know from a business perspective, how to become dementia-friendly, but what does this mean for the families looking for dementia-friendly businesses?

Gail: What it means for families is that when they are looking for a restaurant to visit with their loved one or a specific service in the community, they can go to a list and see what businesses have completed this process, and choose a business that is going to understand what they're dealing with and their loved one's disease process.

How a family member can find those businesses, there are actually two ways. Dementia Friendly Fort Worth has a website on our web page, and that is DFFW.org and there is a listing of dementia-friendly certified businesses there. [05:59.1]

There is also a page on the City of Fort Worth website and it's called Age Friendly Fort Worth, and on that page, you can also find the list of businesses, as well as the application and more details about how to become a Dementia Friendly Fort Worth business.

Dave: Okay, great. We all had to make some changes during this time with COVID-19. We certainly have made some changes on how we do business at Home Care Assistance. Any new programs that have started since all this kind of came to this area back in March?

Gail: Yes, Dave. First, two of the programs that were meeting in person were moved to an online platform and that is our Dementia Friendly Chapel Service, and it's available on a YouTube channel. We also have what's called the Fifth Street Café, which is a social club for people in early-stage dementia, and that has also moved to an online platform. [07:04.7]

Additionally, we have created a brand new program called Activities for People Living At Home with Dementia. This program functions Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 11:00 AM, and each day there is a different activity sponsored by a local organization or business in the area, and it provides an opportunity for socialization and interaction for those individuals who are living at home with dementia.

Another great thing about this program is that it is recorded, so if you're not available at 10:30 in the morning with your loved one to participate in the activity, you can view it at 2:30 in the afternoon or at 10 o'clock at night.

Dave: I think that's a great thing because so many people are being very careful, understandably so, about getting out. Could you give us maybe an example of an activity and kind of the timeframe, so people have an idea if they were to sign on and listen? [08:09.5]

Gail: Certainly. On Mondays, currently we have a program called Ageless Grace, which is a movement program that's designed to engage the brain and the body, but it is an exercise program that is also where the participants remain seated.
We also do bingo and that is sponsored by TCU and their School of Nursing, Harris College of Nursing. Every Tuesday, we play TCU Frog Bingo.

Dave: Okay, that sounds like fun.

Gail: And then, on Wednesdays, we've had a variety of programs and we have just launched two new programs with partnerships with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and their Artful Moments program, and also with the Texas WINS program. And so, Wednesdays and Fridays will be sponsored by each of those entities for the month of July. [09:15.6]

Dave: I think it's great that you're recording these because a lot of caregivers also work, and so in some cases it may be hard for them to listen in the mid-morning, but they could certainly do it when they came home for dinner, or maybe it's an activity they do with their parents or their loved one or their spouse, whatever the case may be after dinner or in the evening, or something like that.

I'm somewhat familiar with Ageless Grace, although I don't consider myself ageless or graceful, but can you talk a little bit more about that? Because I think that's kind of where you can combine two things at once, right? So, you have exercise and you also are stimulating different areas of your brain if I understand it tight. [10:01.0]

Gail: Correct. That program is actually sponsored by AGEucate and V’Ann Giuffre is our host for that program, and it involves music -

Dave: Oh, very good.

Gail: - and movement that helps your brain to work in ways that it might not normally work. For instance, there's one that she calls “gentle geometry” and you're using parts of your body to draw shapes, like a triangle or a circle or a straight line, and you're doing that while you're listening to the music, and then you add another geometrical shape into the process. She might say, Use your right hand and draw a circle in the air and then use your left foot to draw a triangle on the floor. [11:00.7]

Dave: I think I've already fallen down, Gail, just by listening to that.

Gail: But the great thing is there's no shame and it's do it to the best of the ability that you can, always reminding the participants to stay seated and to do it at the level that they feel comfortable.

Dave: I wanted to talk a little bit about, you mentioned AGEucate. It's a little bit off topic. They would probably be a great guest to have on, but I saw that you're a Dementia Live coach. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Gail: The Dementia Live experience is one of the programs that we use to provide additional training for the businesses who decide to become Dementia Friendly certified. It's a great way to bring home to someone who does not have dementia what really feels like. The process immerses as the participant in the feelings and the behaviors of someone with dementia for a short period of time. [12:05.0]

There is equipment that is used, headphones, special glasses and gloves that change an individual's ability to do various day-to-day tasks, and in that process, they then understand what someone with dementia might be feeling like. The difference is someone participating in Dementia Live can end their experience after five to seven minutes, but someone with dementia, their experience goes on all day every day.

Dave: And I actually am also a certified Dementia Live coach and I remember this is more appropriate in a kind of a post-COVID-19 world, but what's interesting about it is we're all given the same limitations when you go through the training, but everyone responds differently. [13:01.3]

Gail: That's very true, Dave.

Dave: Tell us a little bit about that, and how does that parallel with someone with dementia?

Gail: In the Dementia Live experience, each person, the headphones that they receive have noise in them and that noise is intended to cause the brain the confusion to emulate what it's like to have dementia. Some people have an ability to block out noises and distractions, and other people become overwhelmed by loud noises and multiple things going on at the same time.
And so, each individual's response to that noise in the headphones is very different and that mirrors what it's like for individuals who live with dementia, because every person living with dementia has a different experience than the person next to them. [13:54.3]

Dave: And the issue with the Dementia Live when we do it here or we do it in communities, probably one of the top two or three responses we get from family members—mostly we do it with family members, the caregivers—is “I wish I had done this a long time ago.” It just gives you an appreciation for what your loved one's going through.

For me personally, it was the noise, the confusing noise in the headphones that really caused the struggle, and then I would hear someone else say, For me, it was the fact that I couldn't see the glasses, gave my vision limits. For someone else, it may be, I just couldn't get anything done with the gloves and all that kind of thing.

To me, that's the impressive thing about the program. It's fairly straightforward and it's easy to do. I mean, it's easy to get involved in it, but it teaches you a whole lot. [14:58.7]

Gail: Dave, I call it a game changer for families and professionals, because not only does it give you a better understanding of the person living with dementia, but it changes how you respond to them.

Dave: yeah, I completely agree with that. Getting back to Dementia Friendly Fort Worth, any other programs that they offer for the families that are facing these challenges?

Gail: In addition to the programs that I've mentioned already, we also do some education programs. We don't have any of those on the schedule right now, but we do have some planned for later in the year, and whether those will be in-person events or virtual events is yet to be determined depending on where we end up with this health crisis we're currently facing.

Dave: Sure, absolutely. If someone wants to find out more information or wants to get in touch with you and talk about the programs that you currently are offering, how would they do that? [16:01.0]

Gail: You can contact me through our website, which is DFFW.org or my email address is “g snider,” and that’s S-N-I-D-E-R, [at] “dementia friendly FW” [dot] org. gsnider@dementiafriendlyfw.org.

Dave: Very good. I do want to say that Home Care Assistance is a Dementia Friendly business and we are certified by Gail's organization in that regard, and certainly, Gail, you might be surprised, about 80% of our clients have some form of dementia and we certainly want to get them exposed to your organization. Hopefully, more businesses and kind of the North Tarrant County area will find out about Dementia Friendly Fort Worth because I think it would help their business and it's also going to help the people that they serve. [17:05.3]

Gail: Absolutely. One additional comment about the activities program that we've created is, later this month, Dave and Home Care Assistance will be sponsoring some of our activity sessions with their MindFit program, so join us for that as well.

Dave: Thank you for that plug, Gail, and we look forward to that and we do that in communities, and we also have our own Facebook where we're actually doing that as well. But thanks again, Gail, for being on the program.

And this is Dave parks with Home Care Assistance, and we always encourage you to visit our website at HomeCareAssistanceFortWorth.com or call us at the office if we can help you in any way, (817) 349-7599.
And we look forward to having another program next week. Have a great week. [18:01.4]

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