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2021 BrainWorks Conference


Tuesday, March 30 - Thursday, April 1
8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. each day
General registration fee: $15
Contact hours registration fee: $90

Hear from experts in the field of 
Alzheimer’s and dementia research, 
behaviors and treatments on these topics: 
  • What’s New in Alzheimer’s in 2020/2021
  • Medicaid Eligibility for Nursing Home and Other Long-Term Care
  • Dementia Conversations
  • Responding to Stress in    Dementia
  • The Fundamental Role of Resources in the Pursuit of Health Equity for Dementia
  • Dementia Communication ‘on Steroids’ During COVID

2021 BrainWorks Speakers

Dr. Yogi Shah is the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs for Broadlawns Medical Center. Dr. Shah joined the organization in September 2016 and served as a geriatrician in the Broadlawns Geriatric and Memory Center for his first three years with the Broadlawns. Prior to joining the medical staff at Broadlawns, he served as the Associate Dean of Global Health at Des Moines University and was the founding physician for the Des Moines University Memory Clinic.

Scott Hartsook was the Managing Attorney of the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans, a special project of Iowa Legal Aid that provides free legal advice to Iowans who are 60 or older, from 1997 to 2018. Scott graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1977 and is a frequent speaker about Medicaid. He currently practices part-time in Des Moines, helping people with Medicaid and other elder law issues.

Dr. Kyle Page is a board-certified geropsychologist. He earned his PhD from the University of North Texas and completed his geriatric-focused clinical fellowship at the VA Boston Healthcare System. He currently works in skilled nursing, hospice, and long-term care at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital outside of Chicago. Dr. Page has authored and co-authored several publications and presented at local, state, and national conferences on topics related to mental health in later life. He reguarly provides family and staff behavioral training on responding to distress in individuals living with dementia.

Ruth Wagner is an Alzheimer's Association volunteer, and she cared for her husband through his Alzheimer’s journey, both at home and in a community, and dealt with these and other discussions. She was a secondary educator for many years. As a trained Alzheimer’s Community Educator for 5 years, she has spoken with groups and individuals in programs and health fairs throughout Iowa.

Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., MPH, is Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. In this role, he has championed the work of the internal Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup and has worked to extend the Association’s relationship with nationwide partners including the African Methodist Episocopal Health Commission and Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. Recently, he published an editorial in JAMA-Neurology that highlights the need for more diverse perspectives to address disparities and pursue equity in dementia science.
Dr. Hill previously served as Vice President of the medical scientific research engagement team at the Association and oversaw strategic efforts to create global awareness of the Association’s international research program. He also worked to advance research related to diversity engagement and recruitment. 

Erin Bonitto, M.S., A.D.C. is the Founder & Lead Coach at Gemini Consulting, Inc. A presenter at nearly 500 aging services and dementia care conferences, Erin Bonitto is a sought-after speaker, educator and dementia communication coach. Erin has had a rich career in healthcare beginning in high school, as a Dietary Aide. Inspired to life-long service, she later earned a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Gerontology; and an Activity Director Certification. In 1998, Erin founded Gemini Consulting. She is renowned as the innovator of Life Enrichment Systems for Dementia, a dementia education, programming and skill coaching framework. As Lead Coach for the system, Erin provides hands-on dementia communication coaching at partner communities across the nation – including CCRCs, nursing homes, assisted living centers and memory care providers.



Tuesday, March 30
8:30 - 8:40 a.m.
- Opening
8:40 - 9:40 a.m. - What’s New in Alzheimer’s in 2020/2021 with 
Dr. Shah
9:40 - 9:50 a.m. - Break
9:50 - 10:50 a.m. - Medicaid Eligibility for Nursing Home and Other Long-Term Care with 
Scott Hartsook
10:50 - 11 a.m. - Wrap-Up

Wednesday, March 31
8:30 - 8:40 a.m.
- Opening
8:40 - 9:40 a.m. - Responding 
to Stress in Dementia with Dr. Page
9:40 - 9:50 a.m. - Break
9:50 - 10:50 a.m. - Dementia Conversations with Ruth Wagner
10:50 - 11 a.m. - Wrap-Up

Thursday, April 1
8:30 - 8:40 a.m.
- Opening
8:40 - 9:40 a.m. - The Fundamental Role of Resources in the Pursuit of Health Equity for Dementia with Dr. Hill
9:40 - 9:50 a.m. - Break
9:50 - 10:50 a.m. - Dementia Communication ‘on Steroids’ during COVID with Erin Bonitto
10:50 - 11 a.m. - Wrap-Up

What's New in Alzheimer's 2020/2021
Find out the latest in research, treatments, news and more in the Alzheimer's and dementia space in 2020 and what could be ahead in 2021.

Medicaid Eligibility for Nursing Home and Other Long-Term Care 
The presentation will educate people about:
  • Eligibility requirements for Medicaid for facility and in-home care.
  • Asset and income protections for the Medicaid recipient’s spouse.
  • The best options for spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Protecting the home and other assets from Iowa’s estate recovery law.
  • Avoiding illegal asset transfers that would affect Medicaid eligibility.
Responding to Stress in Dementia 
Individuals living with dementia often experience changes in their behavior, which can express in several different ways. Recognizing and understanding these changes can help caregivers best interact during these challenging times. This presentation will cover common behavioral expressions over the course of dementia and key interaction skills for responding when someone is in distress.

Dementia Conversations
When someone is showing signs of dementia, it’s time to talk.  Going to the doctor, deciding when to stop driving, and making legal and financial plans are challenging and difficult conversations for many families. This session will help with ideas and tips to plan ahead for a successful outcome.

Dementia Communication ‘on Steroids’ During COVID
Even before COVID, providers have understood that dementia care is ‘all about the approach.’ Now, during the time of COVID – when team members may be routinely wearing masks, gown and gloves – what are the implications for dementia communication? How might the use of PPE trigger additional confusion, anxiety, and behavioral symptoms? What specific skills can the wearer use to decrease frustration and increase comprehension for the person with dementia? For family and loved ones, what basic dementia skills can be used to make themselves better
understood when wearing masks, sitting 6-feet apart, or communicating via technology? Erin Bonitto, a nationally known
dementia communication coach, will explore these questions and more, as she provides simple, effective tools for communicating and connecting with the person who has dementia.

Conference Objectives
1.   Summarize the new Alzheimer’s Disease Research Framework and explain the implications of the framework for clinical trials, including describing both current research in the field of dementia as well as effective 
treatments to manage disease symptoms.
2.   Explain how to identify, navigate and respond to behavioral changes in dementia, as well as strategies that ease feelings of distress, fear, anger, guilt, and grief in caregivers. 
3.   Describe specific vocal quality skills that make it easier for the person with dementia to understand and focus on the speaker – especially when the speaker is masked, and describe specific strategies that a wearer of PPE might use to reduce apprehension and build rapport with the person with dementia.
4.   Learn about eligibility requirements for Medicaid for facility and in-home care, and asset and income protections for the Medicaid recipient’s spouse.

Purpose Statement
The purpose of the annual 
Alzheimer’s Association  BrainWorks Conference is: 
1) to equip those affected by 
dementia with the knowledge and resources to live well, and 
2) to equip providers of dementia care with the knowledge and 
resources to support quality of life among recipients of care.

Our conference 
appeals to a wide audience including nurses, nursing  assistants, social workers and other dementia care professionals. Family care partners, friends, students and individuals with early-stage dementia are also welcome.

Contact Hours
It is the licensee’s responsibility to determine if the education programs they attend meet the requirements of their professional licensure board. Full attendance is required to earn hours. No partial attendance credit is awarded. Contact hours are awarded based on a 60-minute education hour.
Program approved for 6 contact hours through DMACC, IBON Provider #22.