Argentum, which advocates for excellence in senior living, hosted distinguished speakers and guests at a memory care symposium last week to highlight innovations in advancing care and cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
“The big game changer is hope,” said keynote speaker Dr. John Zeisel, co-founder and president of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care. “We must make a shift in the public narrative and embrace the ‘hope model’ that says let’s be in the present. …Engage in something meaningful. You can make a difference.”
The program, which was sponsored by MatrixCare, highlighted three arts-based initiatives that can be replicated by senior living communities across the country. The innovations were selected by Argentum’s Memory Care Roundtable and described in a new report released at the event as part of Argentum’s new Senior Living Innovation Series. The report is available for free to Argentum members and available for a fee for nonmembers online at argentum.org/store.
The Nasher Museum’s Alzheimer’s Project offers culturally appropriate activities for individuals and families dealing with Alzheimer’s. “Meaningful engagement is the new goal,” said Nasher’s Jessica Ruhle during the event held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project encourages the creation of poetry by an individual or group in different languages, and Hearthstone’s Scripted Improv program fosters creativity, socialization and communication through drama.
“Argentum has identified Memory Care as a critical issue that the senior living industry must actively engage in to continue to deliver the best care for residents and their families,” said Argentum President and CEO James Balda. “Our members are working diligently to learn, educate and share best practices as evidenced by the event attendees who represented companies with more than 2,065 senior living communities nationwide.”
The afternoon focused on innovations in cures for dementias, when attendees learned and interacted with doctors and researchers and dementia care advocate Sylvia Mackey, who shared the heart-breaking story of her husband, John Mackey, who experienced frontotemporal dementia after a long career as a National Football League player for the Baltimore Colts.
Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, discussed the importance of treatment timing, the benefits of exercise and reducing stress. National Institute on Aging Deputy Director Dr. Marie Bernard outlined the latest government-funded research that is directed toward better understanding the role of genes in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In related news this week, the National Institutes of Health announced it has nearly doubled its investment in the BRAIN Initiative, which seeks to better capture a dynamic view of the brain in action. The investments go to more than 170 investigators working at 60 institutions.
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