Viewing posts from: October 2014

Hearing Loss and Dementia

Posted on: October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hearing loss is a significant issue for those suffering from dementia. New studies have shown that hearing loss can even accelerate the progression of dementia. Joan McKechnie of Hearing Direct was kind enough to offer this article for our readers. For more information please contact or check them out on facebook at www.facebook/hearingdirect. Enjoy – the DSG team. Hearing loss can affect people from all walks of life, but seniors are at a higher risk as most hearing loss is age-related. Figures released by the national MarkeTrak VIII survey estimate the number of hard of hearing individuals in the US at 35 million and further projected that the number would grow to 53 million by the year 2053. In the US as in other western countries the most common reasons for hearing loss are linked with age-related changes that the body undergoes and noise-induced trauma. Recent research has found that left unmanaged, hearing loss can accelerate the rate of progression for Dementia. What Causes Age-Related Hearing Loss Our ability to hear, see and smell is based on a mechanism that allows the capture of triggers that are than translated by the brain. When the journey of these triggers is interrupted at any point sensory impairment can occur. In the case of hearing, these triggers take the from of waves of sound and vibrations at different frequencies that travel through the air before making their way to the brain by means of the auditory nerve. Their journey takes them through three parts of the ear; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The inner ear consists of a shell like spiral organ called the Cochlea. The Cochlea contains over 15,000 tiny haircells that are tasked with capturing sounds and converting these into nerve pulses that make their way to the brain. As the body matures these tiny haircells dwindle or deteriorate in quality and hearing loss can occur. It is a natural process that can happen from an early age, though more common in the over 65’s. As the body is unable to regrow the tiny haircells the condition will not improve on its own. Symptoms Of Age-Related Hearing Loss The level of hearing loss may vary from one person to the next based on medical conditions, exposure to loud noise over the years (noise-induced hearing loss), family history and the amount and severity of degrading haircells within the Cochlea. Symptoms can include difficulty in hearing people around you within noisy environments. Background noise may seem far too loud compared to the actual speech. You may also notice: ● Sounds seem less clear ● Not being able to hear the telephone of door bell ring when others can ● Other people may sound mumbled or slurred ● Inability to hear high-pitched sounds such as “s” and “th” ● Often having to ask people to repeat themselves ● Having the television or radio turned up much higher than other family members ● Feeling tired after participating in a conversation held within background noise The Danger Of Unmanaged Hearing Loss In the past it was usually assumed that not doing anything about a hearing loss unmanaged would have a negative impact on quality of life in terms of some social interactions and listening to music and television but that there wouldn’t be anything else more complicated to consider. We now know however, thanks to research by Johns Hopkins and Harvard, that unmanaged hearing loss can have far reaching effects on an individual’s mental health and bring about the progression of dementia. It is the relationship between reduced auditory stimuli and patterns of reclusiveness that is causing concern. Managing Age-Related Hearing Loss As with any medical condition, your first point of call is to seek medical diagnosis from a health provider. In this case it will take the shape of a hearing test. The test will normally take the shape of pure tone based test and may include a speech-in-noise check that uses different types of background noise. A hearing test is available to book from your local hearing center and from your family doctor (in its basic form). Once the precise cause and level of hearing loss is determined you will be offered a number of options that work on the principal of managing the condition using modern digital means. The most common are hearing aids, a group of microcomputers that fit inside or outside the wearer’s ear and are tasked with amplifying external sound. Another group comprise of daily devices that have been adopted for use by the hard of hearing. Examples include amplified phones as well as cell phones, amplified alarms and aids designed to amplify the sound of a TV unit. Relief often comes from using a number of aids as each is slightly better suited for a particular situation. Information written by Joan McKechnie BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology. Joan works for UK based Hearing Direct. In addition to her role as a company audiologist, Joan helps maintain an information blog on hearing loss.

Unique Issues, Holistic Approaches: A Conversation with Jamie Wilson Headley

Posted on: October 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

For Rev. Jamie Wilson Headley, Dementia Services Group isn’t a job -- it’s a mission. She founded DSG after her own mother’s dementia brought to light the need for a multi-faceted approach in helping dementia patients and their families navigate a complicated, difficult path. Jamie’s passion and empathy are complemented by a CDP, CDI, CSA, and MBA. Although every family faces unique challenges, Jamie is determined to ensure that she and Dementia Services Group will help clients weather the storms that dementia can bring. Today, Jamie is here to share her thoughts as an advocate, advisor, and educator. You can also read about her personal experiences with her mother’s dementia on Jamie’s Journey.
We don't try to do a one size fits all approach because every situation is different.Jamie Wilson Headley
When a once-independent loved one is struck by dementia, there are suddenly so many details to consider. In your experience, what are the most pressing or unexpected worries that clients face after their loved one has been diagnosed? Most people are not highly informed when it comes to dementia and other brain disorders.  In short, they don't know what they don't know.  So often families are not as worried as they should be. However, by far the biggest issue is safety.  A person with dementia can become very disoriented or confused with out warning.  They may have been able to drive home or manage finances last week but can not today -- and there is no way to predict when that will happen. They are also more vulnerable to infections and delirium, which can make cognition much worse and increase safety issues like wandering. And of course there is the issue of managing finances and becoming a victim to people who prey on the cognitively impaired.  There is so much to consider and plan for.
...the whole process can be overwhelming.Jamie Wilson Headley
In your opinion, what might be the most difficult part of the process of finding proper care for a loved one? There are many things that need to be considered when choosing care:  level of care needed, financial impact, ability for families to visit, proper environment for the person, and getting them to willingly accept care, just to name a few.  So the whole process can be overwhelming. I found out the hard way when I went through this with my Mother that the Internet is NOT the way to find the best care.  I made a lot of mistakes because I just didn't know who I could trust and I could not find anyone who really understood what my family needed on a comprehensive level.  That is why we approach each client situation individually.  We don't try to do a one size fits all approach because every situation is different.
Finances are almost always an issue where healthcare is concerned. How have you helped families find the financial resources for doctor’s visits and personal care for their loved ones? Once we understand what a person's care needs are, we can then take an overall look at the finances to help the family determine what they need and what they can afford.  We consider things like long term care insurance and how to use that benefit, if they are eligible for VA benefits or Medicaid programs etc.  We also have a strong group of financial advisors and attorneys that we can refer to if needed.
We try to create strategies that help the person with dementia participate in decisions as much as possible and help them feel like they are still in control.Jamie Wilson Headley
What are some of your first actions when DSG becomes involved with a family in need of your services? We work with the family to identify their objectives and then how we can help them achieve those.  Some families just need a little guidance while some really want and need our full range of services.  We always focus our action plans around the four pillars, which are safety, quality of life, dignity and perception of independence.  Perception of independence is important because no one wants to lose control of their life.  We try to create strategies that help the person with dementia participate in decisions as much as possible and help them feel like they are still in control.
I constantly meet people who say, ‘I wish I had known about your company 2 years ago when I was going through the dementia journey.’Jamie Wilson Headley
What are some ways in which you want to see DSG grow in the next few years? Growth is essential to really fulfilling our mission of changing dementia care and helping families.  We have vetted the value proposition and know that our services are very needed and that there is a substantial demand for them.  The keys to growing are:
  1. Ensure we have a solid operational foundation and infrastructure so we can easily clone our existing locations and their high success rate.  I have seen companies try to grow without that foundation and it ultimately destroys them. We won't do that.
  2. Marketing and advertising.  Our business model is totally unique so people don't know who we are or that we can help. I constantly meet people who say, "I wish I had known about your company 2 years ago when I was going through the dementia journey." So getting the word out will be critical.
  3. Continue our total commitment to training and learning.  A huge part of our value to clients is our expansive knowledge of dementia and other cognitive disorders, so we will always continue to stay on top of the latest information and care options.
Our goal is to expand locations to IL and OH over the next 24 months.  Long term, we will continue to add locations in other metro areas.  We want a national presence.  If we are awarded the Mission Main Street grant that will allow us to have the funding to grow but we would also be given the opportunity to work with Google's small business consultants, which will ensure we have the right growth plan. It is all very exciting.  I hope my Mom and Grandmother are watching us striving to make a difference.
Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Please Help Us Reach More Families

At DSG, we want to help even more families affected by dementia. We've applied for the Mission Main StreetSM Grant, sponsored by Chase and Google, and we need 250 votes by Oct. 16th to move to the next round.

Please help us realize our goal of changing the world of dementia care! This grant would give us the ability to help more families and change the way care is provided to those with dementia.

Safe and Sound: Becky’s Story

Posted on: October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

You see the red flags -- the food gone rotten in Mom’s refrigerator, her disorientation while driving, her mishandled medications -- but when it came to moving forward, Becky and her siblings were lost on what to do next.

Note Dementia Services Group worked with Becky and her siblings when they realized that their once self-sufficient mother was now suffering from dementia. We’re grateful to Becky for sharing her story today.
Becky's Story Becky’s Mother had always been an independent woman.  She lived alone and had always been capable of caring for herself. When she started getting lost on the way to familiar destinations the family was very concerned. Even more worrying, Becky’s mother described driving down a road and noticing that her speedometer was “broken” -- it said she was driving 55 when she was sure she’d been driving only 30 miles-per-hour.
We were all starting to notice she was having memory lapses… She wasn't herself.Becky
After several doctors visits Becky’s Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  Although her Mom said she understood the diagnosis, she was unwilling to stop driving or accept help.
For Becky and her siblings, the challenge wasn’t just coping emotionally with their mother’s troubling diagnosis. Suddenly, there were so many new worries. And with these worries came a flood of new services to consider and coordinate.  

What You Need To Know About Long-Term Care Insurance

Posted on: October 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

So you think it may be time for your loved one to begin to access their long term care benefits. What makes working with LTC insurance complicated is that there is no real standardization regarding these types of policies. You must be somewhat savvy to ask the right questions and obtain the correct approvals before care is begun to make sure the policy will pay for all services. If you have not worked with the LTC insurance industry, you will need to first become accustomed to their lingo. The following are some terms you will need to understand before calling the LTC insurance provider: Service Exclusions: Most long term care insurance policies usually do not pay benefits for mental health disorders; although most do pay for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Most also exclude alcohol or drug addiction, attempted suicide, or illness or injury caused by an act of war. Some insurers may say they won’t pay benefits for personal care, such as housekeeping or errands. But you can often get these benefits paid as long as the agency is providing other services that meet the policy’s ADL (Activities of Daily Living) requirements. Elimination Period: The elimination period or deductible period is the time it takes before the policy will pay. Typically there is a 90-100 day elimination period once the claim has been approved for payment. This means that any services received during this time will need to be paid out of pocket. Benefit Period: The benefit period tells you how long the policy will pay either as a daily or monthly benefit. Most will have a daily benefit amount, typically 150$/day. Prior Stay Requirements or gatekeeper provision: Many older policies did not pay benefits unless you spent at least three days in the hospital first. Most policies sold today do not have a prior stay exclusion. Benefit Triggers: Each policy has its own triggers for determining when the recipient’s physical or mental condition is such that they are entitled to benefits from the policy. Generally, most policies require that at least 2-3 of the activities of daily living require assistance. ADL activities generally include: bathing, dressing, toileting and continence, transferring and ambulating, and eating. Most policies do not require a physical trigger (meaning inability to perform 2-3 ADL’s) if there is a cognitive impairment. If the client has been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia such that they require verbal cueing and safety, they are usually considered to meet the benefit trigger for utilizing the policy benefits. Each insurance policy requires different examples of proof of the above disabilities. Some will require a physician to sign off on the inability to perform ADL’s or that there is a cognitive impairment. Some policies will allow a care manager to perform this assessment. Still others require that their company’s care manager must verify the disability. Once a client’s policy has been activated, you will need to know the limits or the number of days per year for which benefits will be paid. There are some older policies that have a life-time limit. Most policies though, have a lifetime limit of a specific number of years, usually 3-5. Long-term care insurance is certainly not easy to navigate, but if you know the right questions to ask and information to obtain, it can make the process much easier. In some long-term care policies, there is also a provision that pays for care management and coordination; and DSG services may be reimbursed under this provision in many cases.

Jamie's Journey

In 2007, Jamie Wilson (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.

Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, but also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring for someone with dementia.

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