Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Teepa Snow at MAIA 2017

Snow explaining unmet needs at MAIA 2017.
I spent the bulk of today attending a pre-conference workshop on dementia care.

For the past year, I have been teaching gerontology classes part time in the College of Nursing and Heath Professions at University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana.

Each August, the university hosts an aging conference sponsored by local agencies and businesses that support healthy aging.

Read more about the Mid-American Institute on Aging & Wellness (MAIA) here.

The two-day conference is packed with speakers covering an array of topics about healthy aging and elder care.

The pre-conference workshop, however, has a tighter focus.

Teepa Snow is a nationally recognized dementia educator who describes her philosophy as the Positive Approach® to Care (PAC).

Snow's GEMS™ model.
Essentially, Snow emphasizes that care partners should understand that people with dementia* deserve compassion and understanding. They are doing the best that they can.

[See this post about the terminology change favoring Neurocognitive Disorder over dementia.]

In order to improve the care partner dynamic, it's vital that the caregivers change how they interact with people who have dementia in a way that deescalates conflict--or better yet--avoids conflict in caregiving situations in the first place.

Snow understands the need to explain these concepts through specific examples.  She demonstrated a variety of caregiving situations with volunteers from the audience.

Underpinning the examples are various models. One of the most extensive models is Snow's GEMS™ model, which is a stage model for the progression of dementia that focuses on retained abilities while also recognizing changes to the brain, to behavior, and to relationships.

From the handouts.
Snow also invited us to work in pairs to explore what it means to live with dementia and what it means to initiate contact with a person living with dementia.

Snow conveyed a lot of information in a manner that was warm, humorous, and engaging.  I highly recommend her as a dementia educator. If you don't have the opportunity to meet her in person, consider reading some of her books or watching some of her videos.

Below please find a video that captures part of today's training.

We learned about the importance of saying, "I'm sorry" when a person living with dementia perceives our help as bossy, intrusive, or threatening:

The video above hints at Snow's dynamic presentation style and the workshop's interactive nature. It was great connecting with various people at my table and gaining insights based on their personal and professional experience.

Many healthcare professionals attending earn CME credits (continuing medical education), but a good portion of those present are not healthcare professionals; they are community members who are pro-active about their physical, financial, social, and emotional health.

Even though I have had some experience in dementia care, I found today's workshop informative and invigorating.


Books about Dementia

Care Partner: An Emerging Term

Films about Dementia


  1. Fantastic insights and acknowledgement of the relationship! It is so hard on both sides and it never occurred to me that the patient would forget that aspect, but of course!

    1. Agreed. Part of my interest in dementia care is the complexity of the disease and the unique journey of each person and their family / friends supporting. I'm always learning something new, and I'm always having to stay very engaged in listening and responding. I can't "phone it in." Thanks for reading / commenting.

  2. My Mom had dementia. It was such a sad time for all of us going through it with her. I tried very hard to see her as she was now and treat her as such, my sister tried to make her be the person she was before...She died 2 years ago...

    1. Gentle hugs to you and your family. It's such a difficult disease and so hard to find a way to respond. And the person changes all of the time, so even if family finds something that works, a few weeks later, it's time to reinvent the relationship. Gah! Hugs and hugs to you.

  3. Teepa is wonderful. I had the chance to meet her three weeks ago at a conference. And it now turns out that she will be speaking after I open the National Caregivers Conference in Chicago in November. I'm so excited to get to meet her again. Sharing her information is one of the most blessed things you can do...because our understanding of dementia and how to deal with it is far too flawed. Thanks for this!

    1. You are going to have such a great time at the National Caregivers Conference for a variety of reasons! I'm eager to hear all about it when you get back (which I know is months away). Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  4. As my husband I continue to age, we make a big effort to bring our children along on the ride. Keeping them informed is a big part of that plan. While we do not dwell on the day to day issues, we do try to let them get a glimpse once in awhile. I suppose experiences like riding in our car while we are driving can tell more about where we are mentally than anything else. We also host big family dinners and I know they can see the difference in that experience from say 10 years ago. I cannot keep twelve balls in the air like I used to.

    We hare funny people (hahaha!) and humor plays a big part in our relationship.

    If more aging people could speak to their progress through aging in writing or video, I think those professionals like you would benefit from our life experiences. While you can talk about it, living in our skin is not what you might think it will be.

    We are not in dementia even though my husband is approaching 80 and I will be 76 in November. There is no secret bullet ever but happiness is found through work, learning and sharing with each other.

    Thank you again Karen for keeping us thinking about what is next. :)


    1. B+ Thanks for sharing your perspective, your experience, and your tips for healthy aging. Even though the rate of neurocognitive disorders increases for older adults as a group, the majority of those 65 plus still enjoy healthy cognition. All my best to the both of you as you continue enjoying life, connecting with others, and deftly responding to challenges of various magnitutes if they crop up. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  5. She's definitely a pioneer in the field of caregiving!

    1. I was only introduced to her work a year ago, so I am glad to see her in person and learn more about her widely acclaimed work. Thanks for stopping by.