The Longest Day 2018
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In This Issue - January 2017

New Program for Recently Diagnosed and Care Partner
Gina Major joins Care and Support Team
Planning the day for a person with moderate or severe dementia
Dementia Care Training for Family and Professional Caregivers
Find a Support Group
Important Dates in 2017


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When you have a question about Alzheimer’s disease or what to do in caring for a loved one with the disease, please call or email us:
800.272.3900 to "chat" with one of our staff via the website, available Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30 pm.

Quick Link: Upcoming educational classes for caregivers

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New Program for Recently Diagnosed and Care Partner

The Cleveland Area Chapter is proud to announce a new evidence-informed program for those recently diagnosed with dementia and their primary care partner. The six-session SHARE program empowers people living with early-stage dementia and their care partner to live full and rewarding lives as they adapt to the challenges of dementia. The program honors each person’s care values and preferences in order to build a strong network for support they can rely on now and in the future.
SHARE helps get the most out of today by planning for tomorrow through thoughtful discussions about symptoms, communication, care values, healthy activities and plans for future care. This program differentiates from care coaching by earlier addressing people with the disease and focusing more on the person with the diagnosis.

Sessions one through four focus primarily on setting values and priorities as participants build a care plan through the use of interactive resource circles. Both the caregiver and the person with dementia work together to make difficult decisions about future care. These interactive resource circles (displayed digitally via a mobile app) eventually become the road map for future care giving. Making these decisions early empowers the person with the diagnosis to make choices about care and helps alleviate future caregiver stress. Session four focuses on caring for yourself and each other. Participants discuss the things they enjoy doing together and ways for each person to engage in those healthy and pleasant activities.

Session six is an optional family session where SHARE partners give their family and friends the opportunity to learn about their SHARE Plan and ways to support it. The purpose of this session is for family and friends to hear from both SHARE partners about the issues that are important to them. The goal is to help them understand the SHARE Plan and their role in helping maintain and implement it.

New staff member, Gina Major, will facilitate these sessions (see bio below). For more information, please contact her at 216.342.5577 or


Gina Major joins Care and Support Team

SHARE Counselor and Dementia Care Coach (Beachwood, Avon)

Gina Major recently joined the Cleveland Area Chapter as a full-time Care Coach and SHARE Counselor providing support and assistance to caregivers of and individuals with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.  Gina comes to us from the University of Akron where she served as a research assistant for the P.R.I.D.E. (Promoting Resilience and Identity Development through Empowerment) and HOPE for battered women with PTSD in domestic violence shelter programs, among others.
Gina has previous experience working with clients in the community and hospital settings. She has also served as a volunteer for a number of organizations, offering individual/group services and support to disadvantaged youth, victims/survivors of crime, older adults suffering from memory loss, and children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Gina’s primary specialty areas include trauma, gerontology, and career development/ retirement.
Gina earned her Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Akron and earned a double major, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Allegheny College.  Gina holds a Gerontology Certificate from The Institute for Life Span and Development and Gerontology at The University of Akron, with a specialized focus on counseling older adults. She can be reached at 216.342.5577 or


Planning the day for a person with moderate or severe dementia

A person with dementia will eventually need a caregiver's assistance to organize the day. Planned activities can enhance the person's sense of dignity and self-esteem in the later stages of the disease by giving more purpose and meaning to his or her life. Activities structure time. They can make the best of a person's abilities, enhance quality of life and facilitate relaxation. Activities can also provide a sense of purpose, engagement, usefulness and accomplishment, which can help reduce behavior like wandering or agitation.

Both a person with dementia and his or her caregiver can enjoy the sense of security and togetherness that activities can provide. Types of activities to engage a person who is in the middle to late stages of dementia.

  • Daily routines Chores: Dusting, sweeping, doing laundry.
  • Mealtime: Preparing food, cooking, eating.
  • Personal care: Bathing, shaving, getting dressed.
  • Other activities Creative: Painting, playing the piano.
  • Intellectual: Reading a book, doing crossword puzzles.
  • Physical: Taking a walk, playing catch. Social: Having coffee, talking, playing cards.
  • Spiritual: Praying, singing a hymn.
  • Spontaneous: Going out to dinner, visiting friends.
  • Work-related: Making notes, typing, fixing something.

While planning activities for a person with dementia, focus on the person, activity, approach and place. Consider the person's likes and dislikes, strengths and abilities, and interests. As the disease progresses, keep activities flexible and be ready to make adjustments.  Keep the person's skills and abilities in mind. Take note when the person seems happy, anxious, distracted or irritable, and be aware of physical problems.

Activities that help the individual feel like a valued part of the household — like setting the table, wiping counter tops or emptying wastebaskets — can provide a sense of success and accomplishment. Try to be flexible and acknowledge the person's changing interests and abilities. Caregivers may find they have more success with certain activities at specific times of day, such as bathing and dressing in the morning. Keep in mind that your typical daily routine may need to change somewhat.

As the disease progresses, you may want to introduce more repetitive tasks. Be prepared for the person to take a less active role in activities. Offer support and supervision. You may need to show the person how to perform the activity. Concentrate on the process, not the result. If the person insists on doing something a different way, let it happen and change it later if necessary.

Do not be concerned about filling every minute of the day with an activity. The person with Alzheimer's needs a balance of activity and rest, and may need more frequent breaks and varied tasks. Help get the activity started. Most people with dementia still have the energy and desire to do things but may lack the ability to organize, plan, initiate and successfully complete the task.

Include activities that allow the person a chance for expression. These types of activities could include painting, drawing, music or conversation. Involve the person through conversation. While you are polishing shoes, washing the car or cooking dinner, talk to the person about what you are doing. Even if the person cannot respond, he or she is likely to benefit from your communication.

Substitute an activity for a behavior. If a person with dementia rubs his or her hand on a table, put a cloth in his or her hand and encourage the person to wipe the table. If the person is moving his or her feet on the floor, play some music so he or she can tap them to the beat. If something is not working, it may just be the wrong time of day or the activity may be too complicated. Try again later or adapt the activity.

Minimize distractions that can frighten or confuse. A person with dementia may not be able to recall familiar sounds and places or may feel uncomfortable in certain settings.

Consider how you organize your own day when planning the day for a person with dementia. There are times when they may want variety and others when routine is best. The challenge is to find activities that provide meaning and purpose, as well as enjoyment. Begin by thinking about the past week. Try keeping a daily journal and make notes about:  Which activities worked best and which did not? Why? · Were there times when there was too much going on or too little to do? · Were spontaneous activities enjoyable, or did they create anxiety and confusion? Use what you have learned to set up a written daily plan. A planned day allows you to spend less time and energy trying to figure out what to do from moment to moment. Allow yourself and the person with dementia some flexibility for spontaneous activities, as well as time to rest.

To decide how the daily plan is working, think about how the person responds to each activity and how well it meets your needs. The success of an activity can vary from day to day. In general, if the person seems bored, distracted or irritable, it may be time to introduce another activity or to take time out for rest. Structured and pleasant activities can often reduce agitation and improve mood. The type and completion of activity are not as important as the joy and sense of accomplishment the person gets from doing it.


Dementia Care Training for Family and Professional Caregivers

Do not miss the Alzheimer Association Cleveland Area Chapter’s Dementia Care Training in 2016. The training is FREE and offered to both family and professional caregivers who provide care to those with dementia-related diseases.

The program provides an overview of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, teaches effective communication techniques, gives ideas on how to engage those with cognitive problems, and provides strategies for managing challenging behavior.

Four social work CEUs are available to attendees. Please plan to bring a brown bag lunch. Registration is required.

February 22
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cuyahoga Public Library- Strongsville Branch
18700 Westwood Drive, Strongsville, OH 44136
Register:  800-272-3900

March 13
10:30 am to 4:30 pm
Avon Branch Library
37485 Harvest Drive Avon, OH 44011
Register:  440-934-4743 or

April 18
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Lake County Council on Aging
8520 East Avenue Mentor, OH 44060
Register:  800-272-3900

May 23
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Independence Community Center
6363 Selig Drive Independence, OH 44131
Register: 800-272-3900

June 28
9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Alzheimer's Association Beachwood
23215 Commerce Park, Suite 300
Beachwood, OH 44122
Register:  800-272-3900


Find a Support Group

Support groups are an open gathering of people with common issues, needs and interests who come together to share their thoughts and experiences to better cope with and manage the challenges of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Association support groups are available throughout the United States.

Find a support group anywhere in the country.


Important Dates in 2017


Our Helpline is here for you 24/7

Call (800) 272-3900

The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call us toll-free anytime day or night at 1.800.272.3900.

Our 24/7 Helpline serves people with memory loss, caregivers, health care professionals and the public. Highly trained and knowledgeable staff can help you with:

  • Understanding memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's
  • Medications and other treatment options
  • General information about aging and brain health
  • Skills to provide quality care and to find the best care from professionals
  • Legal, financial and living-arrangement decisions

Our 24/7 Helpline also features:

  • Confidential care consultation that can help with decision-making, provide support, crisis assistance and education on issues families face every day
  • Help in a caller's preferred language using our translation service that features more than 200 languages and dialects
  • Referrals to local community programs, services and ongoing support

Find more caregiving tips online here!



Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.