The passionate pursuit of an active retirement

Vaughan Schwarz, Chair and Sandra Whitmore, Assistant

The Cognitive Subcommittee is an ad hoc committee of the Health and Wellness Committee, chaired by Dave Galentine. Our mission for the past two plus years has been to educate and communicate about many aspects of dementia. We focus on both the caretakers and those with memory impairment.

Marian Sigmon organized and found funding from the Deerfield Charitable Foundation for two simultaneous support groups here at Deerfield. One is for the Caregivers, the other for the “Navigators”, their partners with memory loss. These two groups will be starting their third year, and have been extremely helpful and very well received by the Deerfield Community. Mary Donnelly, nationally known dementia consultant, educator/trainer with MemoryCare and with the national dementia expert Teepa Snow, and Mel Kelly, founding member of Dementia Friendly WNC and Education Director, and certified  in the Validation Therapy Method, are the groups’ popular facilitators.

In August of 2023, Sandra Whitmore created an excellent video describing MemoryCare, an essential service organization in Asheville for families of a loved one with memory loss. The following September, Dr. Peggy Noel, the founder of MemoryCare, gave a presentation to the wider Deerfield community describing its founding, diagnostic services, programs for families, and its remarkable growth. It is funded, in part, by contributions from The Deerfield Charitable Foundation.

In October 2023, Sandra Whitmore made a video showcasing MountainCare, an Adult Day Care facility in Asheville. This was followed by a presentation for all Deerfield residents by Elizabeth Williams, the Director of MountainCare      

Meanwhile in November, members of the Cognitive Subcommittee made it a priority to look into Respite Care in Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living. It was important to increased awareness of this useful resource for Deerfield caregivers and their partners. Respite Care offers from one overnight to two weeks, a rest time for caregivers away from the responsibility of managing a spouse with dementia. Norma Beaty, a Subcommittee member, provided FAQ’s and answers about the overnight care.

Additionally, the Subcommittee has alerted the Deerfield community through the Doings and posters about various educative resources such as, MemoryCare. “Caregiver College”, a series of six zoom courses covering all aspects of dementia and caregiving offered in the Spring, Fall and Winter of 2024. Furthermore, we provided information about The Michigan Alzheimers Disease Center, Taryn Tindall, RN’s September 2018 presentation (still relevant) on “Dementias: Differences, Factors and Indicators,” and the free on-line Memory Caregivers Support Group, a well-attended zoom group facilitated by Mary Donnelly. These and other resources can be found in the archives of the Health and Wellness icon on 3.0 Cognitive Health. The rich trove of well-organized and up to date information and videos has been archived by Frank Cummings, another Cognitive Subcommittee member. Frank put in untold hours weeding out old materials to insure that what remains is relevant and timely. We also have a large bookcase dedicated to Health and Wellness and dementia awareness.

At the start of 2024, the Subcommittee was thrilled to schedule Mary Donnelly to present a three part discussion entitled “Living Next Door to Dementia – How can I Help? – Awareness; Recognition; Understanding. The series was enormously successful. Later in February 2024, Dr. Will McLean and Dr. Tasha Woodall gave a talk entitled “Mind matters: Dementia Evaluation and Emerging Treatments.”

Currently, the Subcommittee has begun an initiative called “Demystifying Haden Hall” in collaboration with Kathy Foster, Director of Marketing, and Meghan Atkinson, Marketing Assistant and Head of Transitions. Nancy Bracken, the Subcommittee’s systems and process expert suggested that we include Brian King, the Director of Health Services, in our Subcommittee meeting of April 9, 2024. He and his team are hard at work increasing the homey, warm, person-centered atmosphere in Healthcare. Moreover, he was aware that a major goal of the Marketing and Transitions Department is to facilitate all resident transfers from the waiting list to a permanent Independent Living location, and from there, at some point, to Healthcare. Brian believed that our Subcommittee could collaborate with the Transitions team since our goal is to increase awareness among Deerfield residents of the skillful, compassionate nursing, and the many positive, fun activities taking place in Healthcare. We are in the planning stage and hope to flesh out the initiative and propose an action plan together with Marketing and Transitions. There is more to come.