Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing Perspectives and Changing Lives in Tennessee

January 14, 2013
Chris Perna, The Eden Alternative Blog

The Eden Alternative is continuing its collaboration with the Tennessee Advancing Excellence Coalition, the Tennessee Department of Health Office of Health Care Facilities, and CMS by offering another three-day dementia training event in Knoxville, Tennessee, this week from 1/15-1/17. This is the second in a series of CMP grant-funded trainings being offered free to two participants from each nursing home across the state. Two more will follow: One in Memphis, February 12-14th, and then again in Nashville, April 2-4th.

Our goal is to train a total of 749 people and to positively impact the understanding and practices of these long-term care professionals and regulators in their approach to caring for people with dementia. Based on feedback from the first event last month in Nashville, this training is having the desired effect.

Angie McAllister, a participant from our first symposium in December, offered this comment, “Dementia Beyond Drugs was one of the best trainings I have been to on the subject of understanding and providing care for those living with dementia. It’s not enough to merely offer an ‘intervention’ any longer. We have to change ourselves and the way we view those living with dementia, in order to empower them to lead lives rich with individuality and choice.”

And Missy Allen, Administrator at Riverview Healthcare Center, Prestonsburg KY added, “Dementia Beyond Drugs training was a fantastic learning experience!  You will experience a true paradigm shift in the way you think about and provide care for elders facing the daily challenges of living with dementia.”

These comments are typical of what we heard from the majority of more than 100 attendees at the event. The Knoxville event this week and the following events in Memphis and Nashville promise to offer participants a similarly positive experience.

We are excited to see the impact that this training will have over the coming months on psychotropic drug usage and quality of life for people living with dementia and their care partners in Tennessee.  We hope that we can then use this CMP grant-funded initiative as a model for other states to follow, because the great need for quality solutions to care for people living with dementia is not going away.

Roni Scheurer, Regional Quality of Life Director-Signature HealthCare, said it well with this comment,“I was amazed at how my eyes were opened to the fact that living with dementia is a way of life for so many elders in today’s society. Dr. Power empowered me to use every possible avenue to help people learn more about this way of life and to treat elders with dementia with such dignity.  Dementia is not going away, and we as society must learn to embrace this way of life and help them on their journey.”

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