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Maude’s Awards Reward Innovative Dementia Care Strategies

The old woman is smiling and making heart-shaped hands. The concept of happy living for the elderly.Maude’s Awards was created to reward innovations that enrich the quality of life for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their care partners, particularly those that connect people with dementia to the world and people around them and those that provide education, training, or support for care partners of persons living with dementia.

Maude’s Awards were developed locally with the intent to reward achievement and demonstrated success (rather than provide grants for future programs) across the country. The third annual Maude’s Award recipients were announced in September. Two of the awards went to programs that take place in Seattle.Elderwise

Three $25,000 awards were made to organizations. They are:

  • Elderwise (Seattle, WA) enriches the lives of caregivers and adults living with dementia through teaching and demonstrating their philosophy and practice of Spirit-Centered Care®—working from one’s own essence to connect with the essence in others; deep respect for equality; an understanding that roles can change instantly; and deep listening. Devoted to meet this need, Elderwise expanded its adult day social program model to include a deeper and more meaningful level of engagement. They aim to bring societal normalcy for those with dementia and develop programs that treat participants as whole with the capacity to grow. As a collaborating member of The Memory Hub, Elderwise embraced caregiver education, and documented their philosophy and practice in a book, The Elderwise Way: A Different Approach to Life with Dementia. The provide caregiver talks, reaching at least 400 people across the nation; write articles; attend professional conferences; and developed online training program, which will be available soon on their website.
  • I’m Still Here (Winchester, MA) helps people living with dementia to flourish by highlighting dignity, engagement, community, and education and underscore the value of a nonpharmacological approach to care. In 2018, the organization launched a program that provides seed funding for organizations to develop innovative engagement programs for persons living with dementia and their care partners, focusing on the arts, culture, and community.
  • Jewish Family & Children’s Service Memory Café Percolator (Waltham, MA) and Dementia Action Alliance (Charlottesville, VA) collaborated to develop a “Living Well with Dementia at the Café” initiative, which helps memory cafés foster leadership and empowerment among participants living with dementia, in addition to offering support and companionship. Achievements include organizing a work group of café coordinators and an advocate living with dementia; a panel discussion attended by 86 cafe leaders; a written guide for café coordinators; and piloting a successful speaker’s bureau called “Café Chats: Living Well with Dementia,” in which a trained advocate provides a mini presentation on living well with dementia at a memory café. The Chat is carefully designed to open the topic of dementia and offer a role model while protecting the traditional role of cafés as welcoming places for those not diagnosed or not accepting their diagnosis.”

Five individuals received $5,000 awards:

  • Taproot Theatre logoPam Nolte (Seattle, WA)—After her mother passed away with Alzheimer’s disease in 1983, the Greenwood Senior Center’s The Gathering Place coordinator reached out to ask if Taproot Theatre—a company Pam co-founded in 1976—would be interested in beginning an improv class for individuals experiencing Early-Stage Memory Loss. Pam has taught and continued to develop and guide the Dementia Friendly improv program for Taproot Theatre since then. The theatre makes a unique commitment to the education of professional actors, providing specific brain science related to memory loss, to ensure the best classes possible for those experiencing memory loss and their care partners. During the pandemic, “Re-Ignite the Mind with Improv” and “Re-Ignite the Mind with Imagination” quickly moved to Zoom and were renamed Z-improv and Z-imagination (click here for more information). Those classes have continued to serve individuals experiencing memory loss without interruption throughout the pandemic.
  • Mary Crescenzo (Topanga, CA)—Since 1994, Mary has developed a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, individual-based approach to Alzheimer’s care through the arts. Decades-long passion formed the foundation of her book, The Planet Alzheimer’s Guide: 8 Ways the Arts Can Transform the Life of Your Loved One and Your Own, a how-to guide for personal and professional care partners, as well as activity/lifestyle directors, and podcasts. Its format offers comprehensive yet accessible advice on how to engage a person with dementia through painting/drawing, music/singing, movement/dance, poetry, and storytelling. Mary refers to “art experiences” rather than activities since these events engage people with dementia and their care partners in a welcoming environment without judgment. This program uses art as a tool to connect, communicate, and foster self-expression, stimulation, relaxation, socialization, and dignity for those with dementia, and often results in a unique, creative response, representational or abstract in each of the art forms mentioned. Through “Care Through the Artssm,” Mary continues her advocacy as a public speaker and professional development facilitator, illustrating how arts engagement works with the dementia population. She also addresses the need for a safe, creative outlet of self-care for care partners through creative writing. Also, as a playwright, director, and producer of Planet A, a play about the inner world of Alzheimer’s, Mary provides a forum for public awareness through this theatrical work and its post-audience Q&A.
  • Bonnie Erickson (Billings, MT)—Last year, Bonnie and several others with a dementia diagnosis co-founded the nonprofit National Council of Dementia Minds, a forum for people living with dementia to speak for themselves. It is the first national organization completely governed by people living with a dementia diagnosis. Presentations are shared free of charge to medical students, medical professionals, policymakers, researchers, care facilities, families, and care partners. Bonnie says they are creating an army of advocates for change in the way society views dementia and prove that one can live well with a dementia diagnosis. She says, “We no longer want to hear physicians and medical students say ‘go get your affairs in order’ after a diagnosis. We want to hear words of hope and be told it is possible to live well with a dementia diagnosis. We are, by the way, living proof.”
  • Hailey Richman (Plainview, NY)—Hailey is a young woman—still in her teens—who founded Kid Caregivers, a nonprofit organization that supports and empowers children who act as caregivers. Its mission is to help young people learn and incorporate coping skills and enliven and improve the quality of life of adults living with Alzheimer’s disease. Young people are encouraged to use their skills to benefit the dementia community. Programs include intergenerational Puzzle Time and training to enhance eldercare globally, which is now available in all 50 states. Puzzle Time provides Alzheimer’s patients with companionship and stimulation as they solve jigsaw puzzles with youth who are eager to assist them. All Alzheimer’s patients can participate, including nonverbal patients who point to the puzzle piece as students place it. Volunteers include students, young Alzheimer’s caregivers, and Girl Scouts, including the first NYC homeless Girl Scout Troop. Volunteers receive community service hours as they collect puzzles for nursing home. During COVID restrictions, they participated in Puzzle Time outdoors. Young caregivers also have a support group that meets via Zoom to share advice, tips. and suggestions for coping with Alzheimer’s disease. As Hailey said, “We want kids to know they are not alone.”
  • Dana Territo (Baton Rouge, LA)—As director of services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, Dana recognized a great need in the community to share Alzheimer’s information and provide resources, advice, and recommendations. Since 2013, she has written “The Memory Whisperer,” a weekly question-and-answer column that appears in The Advocate, Louisiana’s largest newspaper—both print and digital versions (click here). Her columns have covered everything from the top 10 signs of Alzheimer’s to caregiver burnout to finding the joy in caregiving. The only cost of this program is Dana’s time—15–20 hours each month researching and writing. She has written more than 430 columns to date. Dana says, “I feel the information I provide assists caregivers and affected individuals in navigating the journey of the disease and, more importantly, the readers know and trust that I am a voice of support and advocacy for them.”

Maude’s Awards was created in 2019 by Richard Ferry in honor of his beloved wife of 65 years. In 2013, Maude was diagnosed with dementia. As a loving care partner and tireless advocate, Richard continues the journey by discovering and sharing innovations that speak to the challenges and needs of persons living with dementia and their care partners.

For more information about the 2022 awardees, click here.