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In This Together Lecture Series
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 10:52 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 425

I’ve been out of touch for awhile. All is well. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

All of us here know that  no one should face dementia alone, but there are many folks out there caught in the  Alzheimer’s Ambush: confronted with trouble they are unequipped to handle, with no help at hand and not even knowing where to turn. Of course, this message board, and the Alz. Association aims to help get people out of that situation, but a resource is only as effective as its reach. It doesn’t help those who don’t know about it.

Knowing that there were people even in our small southeast Michigan community who were uninformed, unprepared, and pretty well unraveled in dealing with dementia, a small group at our church tried an experiment. On a shoestring of a budget, we put together a program we called In This Together-Dementia Awareness ©  It was a weekly series of 12 talks about various aspects of dementia and caregiving and the overall journey. I gave a personal talk about my 11-year caregiving journey. Then there were classes using material from the Alzheimer’s Association---Know The Ten Signs, Understanding The Disease, and several others. We had a financial planner, and a lawyer, who gave talks on financial and legal planning in a dementia context. We had a gentleman living with dementia, and his wife, who happens to be a professional dementia caregiver herself, give a joint talk about their family’s journey. We also had a couple of caregiving skills workshops a la Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach.

Our last talk, coming up next week, is one that several of you provided input to a few months ago—the idea of a Dementia-Friendly Community. This involves persuading businesses, banks, stores, restaurants, government offices, police and fire and so on, to learn about dementia and the challenges PWDs face in making their way day to day in a typical city or town. The premise is that as people learn about the problems PWDs—their friends and neighbors—face, they will adjust their business and organizational practices to make it less difficult for PWDs to deal with them.

This “last” talk in our series is the first one dealing with dementia at the community level. It may be the beginning of a community-wide initiative. Regardless of whether we spur a Dementia-Friendly Community effort right away, the series of talks has been successful: with zero paid advertising, relying solely on things like store-window fliers and notices in church bulletins and community calendars, we had about 50 people every week, from not just our town, but from communities up to 25 miles away. We had returning regulars, and new faces every week. And although a lot of people felt alone when they walked in, I don’t think anyone did so when they left.

At each of the talks, we also had tables-full of free literature from the Alzheimer’s Association and Canada’s and the UK’s Alzheimer’s Societies, plus booklets and leaflets from NIH on many aspects of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. No one left empty-handed either.

In collaboration with our program, the local library mounted an Alzheimer's exhibit, with Alzheimer's literature from the Alz. Association, the NIH and other sources, some posters with statistics and overview facts, and a selection of their own Alzheimer's-related books. Fliers at the library, of course, also advertised our program.

Written and spoken comments after every talk told us that we were meeting a real need in the community. We connected people dealing with dementia-- themselves, or as caregivers, as family members, or concerned about having to deal it with in the future—with the information and the resources they needed to know about, but didn’t.

On one occasion, during my talk, I virtually saw the lightbulb go on for someone in the audience. She perked up, she smiled. Oh, she still had a loved one at home with a problem, but suddenly she understood his behavior better, knew that she wasn’t alone, and realized she could get help. Surely it was nothing especially brilliant I said; it was just a matter of presenting information that had not been adequately put out there before.

Fact is, too many people know too little about dementia. The program my friends and I ran here in southeast Michigan made a small dent in that large problem, but I think we made a difference for at least a few sweet people we brought in from the information wilderness. We each do what we can.

Just thought you might be interested.



Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:18 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 16410

This sounds like a wonderful program, Mr. Toad.  Thank you for sharing.

Iris L.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:25 PM
Joined: 3/9/2012
Posts: 579

This sounds great. The memory care facility where my husband resides provides monthly caregiver information meetings and they have a monthly luncheon group that meets at a local café, where they can visit and share information with each other. Also, people in my senior living facility constantly ask me if I know of any classes or meetings that they can attend. There is a real need for good information and support.
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:28 PM
Joined: 7/10/2017
Posts: 650

Wow. Nice work, Jim.  If there's something I can do from Texas to help, let me know.


Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 5:28 AM
Joined: 4/6/2014
Posts: 437

Fantastic Mr Toad ! 

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 6:37 AM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 2724

Hi Toad. I knew you were busy with the program, and I saw the video online that ran about 50 minutes or so. GREAT JOB!! Thank you for your efforts to make this something people know a little more about. You deserve a medal, which only Crushed can bestow on you.
Dreamer Lost
Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 8:06 AM
Joined: 3/7/2019
Posts: 447

Welcome Back Mr. Toad, you have been missed.  I too, watched your 50 minute video and was so impressed with all that you have been doing. You continue to be an inspiration. 

Last Dance
Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 9:28 AM
Joined: 5/2/2013
Posts: 354


I think that what you did was an excellent idea. I knew in 2006 that Linda was having some memory problems, yet I had no idea how bad it would get and what I was going to have to do  to take care of her. At that time there was very little information about Dementia Awareness. I was on this board and I did read some books yet none of it really sunk in, maybe it was because I was not truly grasping what I read or maybe because I was trying so hard to take care of her, and that I was hoping the bad things I read would not happen. If I had know then what I know now, I would have been a much better and happier care giver. Hearing personally from caregivers that have been through the hell of Alzheimer’s was always a lot better than reading some book. When you can actually sit and ask and answer question it makes a world of difference. when anybody ask me about my experience while taking care of my beloved Linda I spend all the time with them and help them as much as I can.                                                                                                                      Congratulations to you and your group for what you did. Richard 



Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 1:26 PM
Joined: 7/13/2017
Posts: 425

Thanks for the offer, Mike. I will reciprocate for you and others: if anyone is interested in trying to set up a similar program, I’d be happy to offer information and assistance in terms of what we did, how we publicized it, and what lessons we learned.

Glad you liked the “Alzheimer’s: It’s a Disease  Not A Disgrace” video.  In a week or so I will try to post a video about the Dementia Friendly Community talk coming up.


Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2019 11:10 PM
Joined: 12/17/2014
Posts: 1113

What a wonderful grass roots effort with great results, Mr. Toad! Thank you telling us about it. I would love to start something like that in my church. I'm not able to at the moment, but am so glad to know someone has done it and can explain how to go about it when I'm ready. Best wishes...
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