McLean Memory Care Volunteers Give the Gift of Time to Those with Dementia and their Families

McLean Memory Care Volunteer training session begins September 15

Generosity comes in many forms. For the Memory Care Volunteers at McLean, it means sharing a few hours a week providing personalized attention and participating in activities that bring meaning, enrichment, satisfaction and joy to those with memory loss. McLean’s Memory Care Volunteer Program will begin a training session for those interested in giving the gift of their time September 15. This unique program matches specially-trained Memory Care Volunteers with clients who live at McLean or in the community. Volunteers are supported by a mentoring program and monthly in-service training on timely and useful subjects. For more information call Gao Vang or Kathy Garneau at 860-658-3941 or to download the application go to www.McLeanMemoryCare.org/become-volunteer. Application deadline is August 29.

Photo caption: Volunteers Terry Gellin, Linda Ernst, Suzanne Moran and Judith Westman, pictured here with Gao Vang, Memory Care Volunteer Coordinator (second from left) enjoy their time sharing the enriching and rewarding experience of working with those with memory loss and their families.

Training sessions to become a Memory Volunteer at McLean begin September 15. For more information, call Gao Vang, McLean Memory Care Volunteer Coordinator at 860-658-3941.

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Activites for the week

Understanding the Complex Role of a Hospice Spiritual Counselor

Bonnie Lillis, MA, LPC, McLean Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor, pens article for the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

“The role of the spiritual counselor may be the most misunderstood due to the nature of this professional title”, writes Bonnie Lillis in the introduction of her article appearing in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AJMPM).  “The misconception for many new patients and their family members is a basic misunderstanding of the definition of spirituality.”

 Expanding on the notion that “Spirituality is what provides meaning, purpose, connection, and transcendence in one’s life. This can take many forms and is found in a multitude of areas. It can come from organized religion, nature, family, friends, work, and frequently a combination of these.” The role of a spiritual counselor and hospice care “is holistic in that it meets physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient and their family.”

 As a Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor at McLean since 2008, Bonnie has been providing patient and family support at the end-of-life, as well as facilitating bereavement support groups.  She is well-versed in the caring for individuals and families as they face end-of-life care and the intricacy of grief. In her article, Lillis offers four reflective case studies where a spiritual counselor provided solace, comfort and peace to those in need. Her examples talk about providing support as patients reflect on their lives, their choices and the distress they experience as they are facing at the end of their lives. By sharing her creative and sometimes unorthodox methods of reaching the patient, Lillis’ case studies illustrate the unique support offered by spiritual counselors and the peace the patients find within. 

 Bonnie Lillis’ full article may be found on the Sage Journal website, in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, June 2014. AM J HOSP PALLIAT CARE June 2014 vol. 31 no. 4 353-355.

 Bonnie Lillis is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Community Counseling. She has served as a Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor for the New McLean since 2008. Bonnie provides patient and family support at the end-of-life, facilitates bereavement support groups, and hosts community outreach lectures.

 Bonnie facilitates a Bereavement Support Group at McLean that is offered to the community free of charge:

 Spousal Bereavement Support Group

2nd and 4th Monday of the month

10:00 am to 11:30 am

McLean

75 Great Pond Road

Simsbury, CT 06070

The Health Center, Cole Conference Room

 For more information, or to register, call 860-658-3950.

“Got Confusion? Memory Loss. How Does that Feel?”

Alzheimer’s Advocate, Mal Allard, spends the afternoon with McLean caregivers, staff and families to talk about Dementia.

“Go with the flow” was the message of Mal Allard,R.N., Alzheimer's consultant, Alzheimer's advocate and founder of a company called Their Real World, to a group of over 20 caregivers, staff and families at The New McLean on June 18.

As Mal began the meeting with a non-sensical agenda, talk of cancer and diabetes, and news of a dead bird and mention of being in the wrong room, many audience members looked around in confusion. Then as Mal walked over to a table full of listeners and sat down, seemingly waiting for the speaker to begin, things got more awkward.

Once back at the podium, she asked, “Is anyone confused?” For those of us who had not left thinking we were in the wrong room, of course we were. “Well that’s how I imagine someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s feels on a regular basis.”

Explaining that folks with memory impairment may comprehend half of the words that are spoken, so they are always feeling confused. They may also feel like they are constantly being tested, especially when we ask them questions they don’t know the answer to, or unable to give the expected response.

She explained that our role as caregivers is to help re-route their confusion, even if it’s only for a moment. We need to consider their immediate point in time and create a positive environment for them. A positive environment can be established in a matter of seconds, with mention of a loved one, or a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Creating this up-beat environment that may only last for a few seconds helps bring smile and positive emotions to those with dementia.

“Their care plan is us,” Mal concluded. “We need to jump on board with dementia like any other disease – unlike cancer or diabetes, there is no medical cure, or surgery that might help. Their care plan is us. Help them live a seemingly normal life.” 

Megan Gill, Director of McLean's The Atwater Receives Two Certifications

 Megan Gill of McLean joins the National Council of Certified Dementia  Practitioners (NCCDP) and International Council of Certified Dementia  Practitioners (ICCDP) as a CDP® Certified Dementia Practitioner®.

 Megan Gill, Director of McLean’s The Atwater memory care assisted living  community, recently completed extensive training and joined the National  Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) and International Council  of Certified Dementia Practitioners (ICCDP) as a CDP® Certified Dementia  Practitioner®.

 Created to promote standards of excellence in dementia education, the goal of the  NCCDP/ICCDP is to develop and encourage comprehensive standards of  excellence in direct-care skills, education and sensitivity in the area of dementia  care for professionals and other caregivers who provide services to clients with  dementia.

“As Dementia care professionals, the more knowledge we have on the diseases, the better we can support those in our care,” says Gill. “This education enables me to share the skills and training I received with our residents and care partners.”

In addition to being the Director of McLean Village and Assisted Living communities, Megan facilitates a support group (PDF) sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter, for caregivers of those with dementia on the first Monday of every month at 1:30 p.m. Call (860) 658-3941 for more information.             

Activities Calendar for the Upcoming Week

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