The importance of listening to the person with dementia

We need to hear well before the voice is silenced by the disease

By Mike Good for Next Avenue

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(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series examining and interpreting a commonly used “bill of rights” for dementia patients.) 

People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are an invaluable part of our society. Millions of them are brilliant, wise and actively advocating for their rights and needs.

As my friend with Alzheimer’s, David Kramer said, “It’s not something that necessarily makes us idiots.” No it doesn’t, but unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t understand the disease, and therefore, don’t know how to listen to the person with dementia.

Just like anyone else with unique challenges and special needs, people with dementia need to be able to communicate their needs, wants and fears without being judged.


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It happens to the best of us: I’m not cool anymore

Despair turns to hope during a humdrum trip to the grocery store

By Peter Gerstenzang for Next Avenue

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A few mornings ago, I saw a reflection of myself and had to summon every bit of strength to keep from shrieking. What was staring back at me, from a darkened winter window, was sad, morally repugnant and just plain creepy.

As I caught a glimpse of myself on the NordicTrack, wearing a velour sweatsuit and horn-rimmed glasses so I could watch CNBC, I had the most unsettling epiphany: I’m not cool anymore.

I looked beyond the window at my snow-covered suburban lawn and wondered what had happened to my rebellious nature. Where was the guy who once wore mirror shades and motorcycle boots, whose long hair was held in place by a bandana? How did he morph into the guy who was exercising before dawn? Who chugged prune juice? And now dressed like senile mobster, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante? I did not know. And I was bummed about it.


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Just Ask: Fall prevention program September 29

Learn how to prevent falls and properly use canes and walkers

PMMA Just Ask-tilt leftSeptember is Fall Prevention Month.  Celice Stancil, physical therapy department director at Salina Presbyterian Manor, will demonstrate safety tips when walking and proper use of assistive devices such as walkers and canes to help prevent falls. Participants will learn

  • Tips to prevent falls while walking
  • Signs you may require an assistive device
  • How to choose the right device for you
  • Best practices for using assistive devices such as canes or walkers

The program is scheduled for September 29 at 2:30 in the Ivory Keys Café at Salina Presbyterian Manor. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to Kim Fair by September 28 at 4pm by calling 785-825-1366 or email Kim at kfair@pmma.org.

The session is part of Salina Presbyterian Manor’s ongoing Just Ask free and ongoing life-long learning program which features information from local and regional experts on topics of interest to older adults and their families.

Art and friendship make powerful tools to fight ageism

College students and older adults become ‘pals’ in this creative arts program

By Linda Bernstein for Next Avenue

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Credit: paletteprogram.org Caption: PALETTE participants bridge the generations

“Whom would I meet? What would I say? Would I seem dorky?” These were Rena Berlin’s concerns before she met her Partner in Art Learning, the new “pal” she’d been matched with through a program that pairs a college student with an older adult to create art.

“For the first time in my life I really felt like a senior,” says the 68-year-old educator from Richmond, Va., with a laugh. “They were transporting a small group of us from the Weinstein Jewish Community Center in a van to the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. A van. That mean’s you’re getting old. I was also nervous.”

It turns out she had nothing to worry about. “After my PAL and I got started, it was amazing,” she says.


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To Dine is Divine

2015-10-23-ss-2015-037Have you ever noticed that food is more enjoyable when eating with family or friends? Food is important to life, not only for sustenance but for the opportunity to experience new and favorite flavors and to socialize with others. Of course the quality of food makes a difference as well, and that is where our Dining Services department excels.

Laine Norris, registered dietitian and department director, and Keith Brown, supervisor, are both very creative. They also encourage employees to be creative, to try new recipes and to share them. When the Olympic Games were taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Keith researched Brazilian foods. For both the men’s and women’s breakfasts he provided solados—a pastry or bread stuffed with “whatever you like.” He chose ham, cheese and eggs, and served them with fresh mango slices.

If there is an occasion, we rise to it. The August monthly pot luck theme was the Olympic Games. The dish provided by Dining Services was Brazilian pork and black bean stew over rice. It got rave reviews. Every year, we hold a Chamber of Commerce After Hours event. This year, the 100 people who attended were very complimentary of the food we served—especially Keith’s homemade seasoned potato chips and the cookies. The mini-sorbet ice cream cones, offered in mango and blood orange flavors, were exceptional. Many guests had more than one.

Speaking of homemade, the chili and chicken noodle soup for our annual Good Samaritan Soup Supper are also made in-house by our Dining Services staff. In the meal planning, we include cultural influences such as Mexican, Italian, French and Asian, as well as Kansas favorites. Our menus have great variety and are served by dining services assistants in the Ivory Keys Café, a restaurant-style dining room.

Variety is vital to the meal planning and, as much as possible, dishes such as soups, stews, fried chicken, casseroles, bierocks, cinnamon rolls, pastas, dessert bars and cakes are house-made. Thank you, Dining Services, for the planning it takes to make our meals tasty, healthy and enjoyable!

The secret to a long marriage

Our relationship is different from our parents’ but just as lasting

By Candy Schulman for Next Avenue

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When I mention I recently celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary, friends stare incredulously as if to say, “How is that possible?” I joke that I was a child bride in an arranged marriage, sold with a dowry to the highest bidder. The truth is I did vow “I do” at 23.

My husband, Steve, and I married young and had a child late.


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4 life lessons from Tony Bennett and other 89-year-olds

Bennett and Dick Van Dyke are going strong and happy

By Liz Fedor for Next Avenue

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Caption: Tony with his son Danny, 2007 Grammy Awards

Singer Tony Bennett, at 89, isn’t resting on his laurels.

He recently released a new album, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. In an interview with NPR, he recalled how much he loved singing for his relatives as a boy. “It created a passion in my life that exists to this moment as I speak to you, that is stronger now at 89 than in my whole life,” Bennett said. “I still feel that I can get better somehow. And I search for it all of the time.”

Bennett’s not the only 89-year-old who is defying stereotypes of older age.  Actor Dick Van Dyke  just wrote a memoir titled Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging.  Queen Elizabeth continues to carry out the royal responsibilities she inherited in 1952. And Marilyn Hagerty, my friend and former colleague, continues to write regularly for the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald.

Their daily lives offer four lessons for all people of all ages:


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Fiftysomething diet: 7 trendy (and healthy?) foods

They are getting a lot of attention and may even be good for you

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue

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In the never-ending parade of new food products that make headlines every year, there are always a few that catch on and become trendy, almost fashionable. They are options that beg to be included in any healthy diet.

The question is: Are they worth bringing to the table? Put another way, will they help you age more gracefully and do they have unique nutritional benefits?

Here’s a look at seven of the trendiest edible offerings that people are talking about around the water cooler, at book clubs and in the coffee shop, along with details on what they do and don’t offer when it comes to health, nutrition and disease prevention:


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Dad’s gone but his travels to Africa still inspire me

His pictures from the other side of the world set me off on an unexpected path

By Wendy Walleigh for Next Avenue

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Credit: Getty Images

Africa has had a special place in my heart ever since I was a little girl looking at my father’s World War II photos. Dad had been a 24-year-old Air Force cargo pilot in multiple countries in east, west and central Africa. And while on the continent in 1942 and ’43, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine.

He sent his photos of these locales home to my mother, who lovingly preserved them, mostly black-and-white, affixing them to the black pages of a photo album with sticky corner-frames. I liked to sit with him looking at these pictures as he told me the stories that accompanied them.


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Pneumonia not getting her down

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When Frances German’s mother came down with pneumonia in 1979 at the age of 97, there wasn’t much the doctors could do. She died from the infection.

This March, also at age 97, Frances contracted pneumonia, too. It was only the second hospital stay of her life; the birth of her son was the first. Frances spent 50 days in the hospital, then transferred to Salina Presbyterian Manor’s rehabilitation unit, PATH (Post-Acute to Home). By summer she was well enough to go home, with support from visiting caregivers – just in time to celebrate her 98th birthday in August.

Frances credits her recovery to her lifelong focus on healthy habits – something she believes everyone should do, at every age. “I felt like it was important because I had a family and I wanted to take care of them,” she said.

Frances grew up on a farm in Detroit, Kan., near Abilene. Her parents emphasized healthy living for their eight children and took them to doctors when they were sick – unlike many people they knew in those days.

“They always promoted good health and exercise and good food, and you know we lived on a farm, so we didn’t have all this stuff in food that we have now. It was better for you,” she said.

She doesn’t doubt that good genes played a role in her healthy longevity, too. Both of her parents lived into their 90s, and one of her brothers is now 101.

After high school, Frances got a job at a bank and worked there for 30 years. When she decided to retire, some of her co-workers expressed concern.

“One person didn’t think I should retire because I was so healthy,” she said. “He said, ‘She might go downhill if she retires.’”

She proved them wrong, even through her bout with recurring pneumonia. And, Frances said, she learned even more about physical fitness from her PATH stay and her ongoing rehabilitation.

“I have a lot of people coming here to help me with physical therapy. I never realized how important those people are,” Frances said. “If I had come right home from the hospital, I wouldn’t have had all that therapy to help me get my strength back.

”It looks like Frances is on track to see her 100th birthday. Her hairdresser has even given her some incentive: “She said she would make me 100 cupcakes then.”