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Circles of Hope: Alzheimer’s Association Discovery 2018 Conference

We still have a long way to go to fully understand Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

While research confirms that staying socially engaged, intellectually challenged, creatively enriched, and physically active; not smoking; getting plenty of sleep; reducing stress; and eating an anti-inflammatory diet all contribute to brain and heart health, and reduce our risk of developing a cognitive impairment, we still don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia.

We also know that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia means that life does go on, and there are a growing number of opportunities for individuals living with dementia and their care partners to have a voice, to stay engaged, and to not be alone.

Research continues to search for cause and cure. Until there is a cure, there is a need to understand how best to support, include, and engage individuals living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and their care partners. There is also a need to engage family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, health care, housing, aging services, and other professionals.

Learn together at Discovery

One of the best annual events at which to learn, network, and share is the Discovery 2018 Alzheimer’s Regional Conference, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter. Now in its 33rd year, this year’s conference will be held on Friday, April 27 (8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.) at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

The Discovery 2018 conference program is built around the theme of “Enhancing Community Well-Being.” No matter how you define community, if you work with or care for older adults, especially individuals living with dementia, you’ll want to attend this conference.

Keynote speaker and workshops

John Zeisel

Dr. John Zeisel, author of I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care, returns as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Zeisel first spoke at Discovery in 2013. He has long pioneered evidence-based, person-directed, strengths-based approaches to supporting the well-being of individuals living with dementia. The true heart of Dr. Zeisel’s work and presentations is hope.

Hope is powerfully reflected in the description of Dr. Zeisel’s Discovery keynote presentation: Those living with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them can feel like a diagnosis means everything will be downhill from there. There is nothing to do but wait in despair. But, the neurosciences inform us that a lot is taking place in our brains—even when someone is living with cognitive challenges. In this presentation, Dr. Zeisel will share his hopeful, empowering message called “Circles of Hope” and inspire organizations, every care partner, and every person with dementia to work together to truly make a difference in the lives of all people living with this challenge—that’s where hope lies.

Hope is woven throughout the workshops offered at this year’s Discovery conference. For example:

  • The Arts and Enhancing Well-Being—Learn about using the arts as a tool for the dementia journey through active engagement, as well as through listening, watching, and promoting well-being in individuals and communities.
  • Understanding Alzheimer’s Research: What We Know, What We Need to Know and What Does It Mean—A discussion about the latest research in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, where the field is moving, and how to translate it to actionable items.
  • The Power of Music—With the aid of a professionally trained and certified therapeutic musician, learn how to progress from a personalized program to a personally energizing, socially engaging music experience in an inviting community setting.
  • Using Technology for Better Living with Memory Loss—Learn current research and future insight into high- and low-tech options for improving everyday living with memory loss.
  • How to Start Alzheimer’s Cafes and Memory Loss Walking Groups—This session builds on a workshop offered earlier in the day (Momentia in My Neighborhood) and addresses how to create and launch two of the more successful dementia-inclusive programs locally that are growing across the state.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the keynote address and workshops, an Expo Hall will be open throughout the conference day, offering an extension of educational opportunities. University Book Store will have a bookstore in the Expo Hall as well.

There will also be a photo gallery highlighting the variety of dementia-inclusive programs and opportunities happening across the state, including arts engagement, zoo walking groups, cafes, choirs and sing-alongs, yoga, book groups, improv, museum outings, talent shares, advocacy, folk dancing, theater performances, movie programs, and the like.

Come and be inspired! To learn more about and to register for Discovery 2018, click here. I hope to see you there.

Contributor Keri Pollock directs marketing and communications for Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care™ practice (geriatric care management) serving King and south Snohomish Counties. Pollock serves on the Age-Friendly Seattle Task Force, the Creative Aging Programs Advisory Committee at the Frye Art Museum, and on the Alzheimer’s Association Discovery Conference planning committee.

I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care

Keri Pollock reviewed I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care, by Discovery Conference keynote speaker Dr. John Zeisel, for us last November (click here), saying:

“I recently shared this book with a friend whose husband is in the end stages of Pick’s Disease, a frontal temporal dementia. It completely changed how she engages with him, focusing on what remains, rather than what has been lost. It’s brought her greater peace and joy, and a new way to connect with her husband through the music he loves. In this book, Ziesel shares a refreshing philosophy of treating Alzheimer’s non-pharmacologically by focusing on the mind’s strengths. This guidebook demonstrates the possibility and benefits of connecting with persons living with dementia through their abilities, such as understanding music, art, facial expressions, and touch.”