Chapter 11 – Jamie’s Journey

Posted on: May 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie’s Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
Mom loved having something to take care of again. Her cat, Sasha, was great company and did a lot to keep Mom's mind off of her memory issues.
One day after work, I stopped by to see Mom as per usual and I noticed that there were stains on the couch and on her bed.  When I questioned Mom about it, she told me that Sasha was having some diarrhea.  I checked the litter box and saw there was clearly an issue.
As I got the couch cleaned up and washed Mom's linens for her, I realized Sasha didn't just have normal diarrhea -- she seemed to be leaking it.  The next day I took Sasha to the vet, who said that Sasha probably just had an infection or mild parasite from being at the shelter.  The vet gave Sasha an injection of antibiotics and recommended some special food.
I'd intentionally not taken Mom with to the vet because I feared it would just make her more anxious, but by the time I got Sasha back to the apartment, Mom was a wreck and had been pacing the whole time we were gone. She had been so worried about her cat and was relieved to have her back home.
That was one of those moments I realized the role reversal was in full swing.  

Memory & Dementia

Posted on: April 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Not too long ago, I was leaving Walmart, groceries in hand, when I realized I had no idea where I had parked my car. Doing what I do for a living, I immediately went to, “This is the beginning of memory loss.” However, after taking a deep breath, I remembered that I’d been talking on my phone while parking and entering the store, so I hadn’t been attentive to my environment. I still didn’t know where my car was, but at least I had a decent explanation why not.

So, with the thought that dementia wasn’t imminent, I began going through the parking lot, aiming my clicker at each aisle until I heard the beep of the horn and saw my lights flashing.
We all have moments like this. And really, in such instances, it is not a lack of memory, but a lack of purposeful attention to our environment that causes the inability to recall the needed information.
Your memory doesn’t work in isolation -- it’s an intricate process involving multiple parts of the brain working together.  

Chapter 10 – Jamie’s Journey

Posted on: March 10, 2015 | 1 Comments

Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
The increase in Mom’s antidepressants helped. Mom started going to more activities and wasn’t calling me as many times per day. She also made a few friends that she would have meals with. She seemed a bit more relaxed and at ease when we were together and she wasn't always talking about how unhappy she was.
I began to hope things were going to get better and that maybe Mom would settle into her new life.  The Assisted Living facility was really very nice, the staff were kind and there were opportunities for her to do things during the day if she was willing to participate. I think the adjustment for Mom was like starting at a new school.  She needed to get to know the people and the way things worked. I guess I thought this would be easy for her since she had moved and changed schools so much growing up.  Mom had always been able to walk into a room of strangers and make everyone feel comfortable. She had never been afraid of just starting up conversations or joining in and she had always made friends very easily.  

Depression & Dementia

Posted on: February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

For my mother, there was no evidence or diagnosis of depression prior to the onset of dementia.  In cases like hers, the dementia can be misdiagnosed as depression or missed altogether.  The symptoms for early dementia and depression are very similar so one can see how this could happen.

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawl from social situations
  • Apathy
  • Impaired thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory issues

However, a majority of people who suffer from dementia also suffer from depression.  They seem to go hand in hand.  There is much research being conducted on this topic and studies have confirmed the correlation.

Many studies suggest that persons suffering from depression have a higher risk of developing an irreversible dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, however there is not conclusive proof of the cause and effect relationship.  It is also thought that persons who have Alzheimer’s disease may become depressed as the brain degrades during the disease process.   So the cause and effect may actually go both ways.

There are several logical reasons for the onset of depression to be concurrent with the onset or diagnosis of dementia.  Alzheimer’s is an organic brain disease that degrades brain tissue, thus reducing and/or eliminating functionality.  As this happens, the brain’s neurotransmitters are also affected.

Neurotransmitter production and levels are known to be tied to depression.  So this is a physiological impact.

Other contributors are environmental; for example, a lack of purpose, boredom and loneliness.  The significance of these issues is often overlooked, but try to put yourself in the situations listed below...

 

Chapter 9 – Jamie’s Journey

Posted on: January 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
The trip to the neurologist was disappointing. It is not that her doctors were not good doctors or that they didn’t care about her as a patient. But the reality is that there really is not anything a doctor can do for Alzheimer’s other than try to manage some of the symptoms.   There is no cure or even a real treatment for most irreversible dementias. So the only thing the doctor can do is look at options to control depression and anxiety and manage any other symptoms that may arise. I am sure it is frustrating for the physicians as well. Mom was just as frustrated and the only hope we had was that the increased anti-depressant would help.
MOM JAMIE KENDALL SCOTT 2
Nice place, nice people, but bored. This makes me feel ungrateful for all I have. Back hurts and head hurts, lack of energy, tired. Bored no energy. Feel isolated. No energy is this building, it is beautiful and tranquil, but no good ‘city’ energy like in Chicago. NONE here. Could walk ½ block to main street so there is some noise, people, shops, cars, etc. Hate the dinning room here. Never would go to cafeteria style dinning ever. Really hate the dinning room. My apartment however is just great! I love it. Staff is great! Other inmates are friendly, nice. Have not gotten involved in anything or made special friend. Do go to some activities. Head ache and back aches at least ½ the time. Get tired of pushing self through the aches. Do go to lunch and supper and always interact with people.Excerpt from Mom's Journal
 

Chapter 8 – Jamie’s Journey

Posted on: December 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
Now that we had Mom moved in, I needed to attend to the other details of getting her life set up in Indy.  I needed to find her doctors, make sure her legal documents were in order and hopefully find some ways to help her integrate into her new life.  The problem was I really had no idea how to do any of that.  But life has a funny way of putting what you need in front of you when you need it.
The key is not tripping over it or ignoring it.   I decided to try and get Mom some therapy for the depression, anxiety and mood swings.  She was really struggling and I thought maybe this would help.  Funny, it didn’t occur to me at the time that I was ALSO really struggling and could have benefited from some therapy or help as well.  I found a therapist for her and set up a few appointments.  Mom had been a recovering alcoholic since I was five. She understood the value of therapy and working through issues, so this seemed like a good option.
Mom seemed to enjoy the therapy sessions, but the problem was her short term memory was shot.  She couldn’t remember the session a few hours after she got back to her apartment.  Most therapy operates under the premise of “doing the work” and building on each session towards growth, healing, whatever.  That doesn’t work if you can’t “do the work” because you don’t remember the session!  I quickly realized this was a waste of time, as did the therapist.  However, Mom seemed to at least enjoy the sessions and having someone “neutral” to talk to so I continued them for a few more months.  I was disappointed though – we were no closer to making this better.
Think positive. I worry about forgetting. Have headaches. I am very blessed – be grateful. Banish the fear! Help others. Do exercises. Can do! I always have so…just keep it up. I am OK but must work at it and have fun – help others.  Excerpt from Mom’s journal
 

Chapter 7 – Jamie’s Journey

Posted on: December 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
The move itself went smoothly.  Mom loved her balcony and she kind of just hung out while we got pictures hung, furniture arranged and clothes put away.   I decided that I would spend the first two nights with her to ensure she got adjusted.  Mom was accustomed to moving from when she was a child so I assumed this move would be pretty easy.  Of course, all the times that Mom moved in the past her memory was intact. I was worried about her remembering how to get to the dinning room and back to her room.  This facility was huge and my brother and I got lost trying to get from the moving van to her new apartment.  But by that time I had figured out that her long term memory was still good, so after enough repetition those types of things would become part of her long term memory and she would retain them.  And after a few days she was able to learn her way around and remember how to get back to her apartment.
But her short term memory wasn’t the only issue.  

4 Tips for Happy Holidays in Any Setting

Posted on: December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

During the holidays, most of us want to be as close to our families as possible. If your loved one with dementia resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it seems natural to bring them back home for your holiday celebrations. However, this may not always go according to plan. I learned this the hard way.  

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 www.hearingdirect.com 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

portrait
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.



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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