A successful seniors symposium
BY STEVEN WARBURTON
Staff Alyson Graham was so thrilled with the turnout for the first ever Seniors Symposium that she thinks she’ll repeat the event again next year.
“We did this symposium because we wanted to bring all of the resources to one spot,” says Ms. Graham of Cedarwood Services. The event took place at the Glengarry Funeral Home in Alexandria on Monday afternoon. It saw a steady stream of visitors pour in to either get information from the 20 organizations on hand or to sit in on a number of seminars on everything from fall protection and dying with dignity to an update on the vaunted seniors village.
Craig Smith, a geriatric assessor and elder mediator, also spoke about the challenges of advocating for a loved one in a long-term care facility. He said that one of the biggest obstacles is for people to overcome the notion that they are always right. Such an attitude can shut down any conversation with a long-term care facility, or even other family members.
“As a mediator, I am impartial,” he says. “My goal is to help the parties reach an agreement through facilitating a conversation.”
He added that sometimes, people might not be fully prepared for how dementia and related illnesses can affect someone. As an example, he told a story about an elderly man who made a pass at his own daughter. The man had thought he was much younger and he mistook his daughter for his wife.
Monica Ahrens, Supervisor for the seniors’ program at the Glengarry Inter-Agency Group (GIAG), would likely agree with that statement.
She has an effective metaphor for memory loss: Imagine all your memories are a stack of paper on a windowsill; your earliest memory is on the bottom and what you had for lunch is on the top. Suddenly, a gust of wind scatters all those pages. Now your memories are scrambled.
GIAG had a booth at the show, where the group displayed a number of materials including robotic and semi-lifelike pets and a mannequin baby that looked very close to the real thing.
She explained that some people with dementia think they are much younger than they actually are. They might think they have to go check on their baby when, in fact, the baby is fully grown. As such, the mannequin baby can be used as an effective substitute.
In fact, she says that baby is so popular that seniors like to hold it and read to it. Some of them even know it’s a fake baby but they enjoy interacting with it anyway.
Stephane Cameron, a Lifeline Community Representative from Philips Home Healthcare Solutions, was also on hand to discuss the latest technology for fall detection and services. His company rents equipment that can detect sudden falls and allows for fast communication with seniors and the call centre. There’s also a new service -- a device that monitors wandering for people with dementia.
HEALTHY BEAT: Jennifer Robertson and Monica Ahrens had a lot to display, including these drums, at the Glengarry InterAgency Group’s booth at the Seniors Symposium at the Glengarry Funeral Home in Alexandria on Monday. Drumming is an enjoyable activity for seniors.