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Keynote Address Sessions

Erin Bonitto:I Already Told You… Don’t You Remember?’ Understanding Memory Loss, Dementia & Dementia Communication

Chances are good that someone in your life will be affected by dementia – a neighbor, a friend, a parishioner, or even a loved one. Or, perhaps you are a professional serving people living with dementia. Knowing what you should do can be confusing, as you sort through the unending recommendations of doctors and authors and experts. This session will help you re-focus on what the person with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia needs you to know. Topics will include: • Understanding the important differences between Age-Associated Memory Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease; • Reducing frustration by learning ‘the language’ of dementia; • Communication strategies known to prevent or decrease the intensity of challenging behaviors; • Ensuring pleasurable and meaningful connections for you and the person with the dementia.

Dr. Keith Fargo

Dr. Fargo will be sharing with the audience the latest in Alzheimer’s and dementia research, discussing our latest facts & figures report and latest developments.

Dr. Keith Fargo is the director of Scientific Programs & Outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association. He leads research programs and initiatives to accelerate the Association’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. His work includes developing the scientific programming for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), overseeing the data reported in the Association’s annual Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, and building participation in Alzheimer’s disease research studies.

12:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions

1. Erin Bonitto: Creating Genuine Social Connection: Examples from the FireFly Program for Dementia.  Sometimes – despite our best efforts – our dementia programming can become a bit ‘cookie cutter.’  Group activities may veer toward ‘entertainment’ and individualized interventions may veer toward ‘busy work.’  Planners understand that more can be done to meaningfully engage persons with dementia, but the challenge is how?  Attendees of this session will explore ideas for how to provide even more impactful engagement opportunities– by creating meaningful friendship connections between persons with dementia.  Erin Bonitto, a dementia communication coach, will provide attendees a brief overview of the FireFly Program for Dementia – a program focusing on social connection between persons with dementia, at strength-based stations.  Attendees will review examples of FireFly dementia communication skills known to increase social connection, such as:  The Grand Greeting to build endorphins, the Irreverent Ice-Breaker to minimize embarrassment or unease, and Paraphrasing to include persons with poor hearing, attention or focus.  Attendees will discuss how these simple skills can be incorporated into their existing dementia programs, meal-times and group activities.

2. Scott Hartsook: Medicaid Eligibility for Nursing Home and Other Long-Term Care.  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.

3. Dr. Shah: Dementia Prevention: What’s new in 2020? As people live longer lives, cognitive decline continues to increase as a major health problem in the US.  This workshop will discuss recent scientific evidence about how individuals and families can adopt healthy habits that may not only reduce risk of cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease, but can improve other aspects of health such as cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.

4. Dr. Kathleen Matthews, VA of Central Iowa: Transitional Care Needs for Persons with Dementia: Exploring New Models of Care  Transitions in care are common with persons with dementia, yet some of these care transitions could be avoided if health care teams improved their inter-setting communication and care coordination efforts. This break-out session will explore some of the negative outcomes associated with repeated care transitions for persons with dementia, evidence supporting the benefits of providing transitional care services across the care continuum, and highlight a local program, known as the Behavioral Recovery Outreach (BRO) Team, that provides transitional services for Veterans with dementia and associated distressed behaviors.       
5. Ruth Wagner – Dementia Conversations  This presentation will share tips on breaking the ice and having difficult conversations around some of the most common issues that arise when someone shows signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia; help you plan ahead and build a care team that works and communicates well to reduce some of the stress that can accompany a disease like Alzheimer’s; connect you to helpful resources to enhance the quality of life for everyone involved; and hear from people who are dealing with similar issues and how they handled these challenging conversations.

3:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions

1. Caregivers panel – moderated by Kay Vanags, Aging Resources of Central Iowa. Panel members: Ken Gregersen, Ruth Wagner, Becky Montgomery  Caregiving is a full time job with many twists and turns through which you have to maneuver.  No two journeys are the same.  The three members of this panel are Alzheimer’s Association volunteers who have experienced first-hand, many challenges that come with caregiving. They will give ideas on how to handle various situations that are likely to be faced.  Bring your questions for the panel.

2. Dr. Kyle Page: Responding to Distress in Dementia: What’s a Caregiver to Do?  Persons 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.

3. Dr. Heike Schmolck: “Navigating Behavior Challenges”  Attendees will be able to discuss the purpose of the most recent tools, treatments, and behavior management strategies when managing patients with memory dysfunction.

4. Max Mowitz with One Iowa: Aging LGBTQ Adults and Inclusive Care  LGBTQ older adults face many barriers to adequate and inclusive service. In this session, we will cover the basics of what it means to be LGBTQ, the healthcare barriers LGBTQ older adults face, and how to create a more inclusive and compassionate environment when working with LGBTQ Older Adults with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

5. Diversity Panel (Edith Crawford, volunteer, Dr. Rich Salas, PhD, Des Moines University, other Panelists TBD)  Because Alzheimer's disease disproportionately affects African American and Latino populations, the Alzheimer's Association will offer a panel discussion at the 2020 BrainWorks Conference. This panel is devoted to the challenges facing underrepresented populations. African Americans are twice as likely, and Latinos are one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than Caucasians.
Members of each of these communities will participate in a panel discussion about honest conversations, stigma, fear, lack of trust in the healthcare community and other cultural barriers. They will discuss their experience in dealing with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia in their families and communities.