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many faces of the Hopi [Photo Credit: wikimedia commons]

In honor of the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, it’s essential to pause and consider the social fabrics that dictate our understanding and perception of the field of ageing. An article from Indian Countryon North American indigenous peoples’ reaction to dementia within their communities helps us learn from one another.

While Alzheimer’s occurs at about the same rate among older Native Americans/Alaska Natives as it does within the continental United States, the approach to treatment is unique.

David Maes, of Hopi/Apache descent, is establishing a nonprofit in Denver, Colorado called Taawa Energy Center (Taawa) – meaning “sun” in Hopi.  The center will care for elders living with dementia through an approach that seeks and uses ‘the essence of the person’ for healing.

His focus in treatment changes from management of disease to caring for the whole person. “Specialists think they are treating the whole person, but in fact they’re fragmenting the person,” says Maes.

There is something that everyone around the world can learn from the Native approach.  Native Americans do not share the stigma and ageism associated with caregiving to elders.  In fact, it is associated with normal aging in the Indian community.  The community shares their input and support, traditional healing practices and traditional medicine with the elderly.

Maes says “among aboriginal and Native people, those with dementia [of which Alzheimer’s is one form] are the spiritual people, beginning to leave this world to enter a world where everything is positive and good. There’s no judgment in that world.”

To read the full story, visit:  

On October 15-20 2012, IAHSA and Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) will be hosting the Alzheimer’s Disease International Study Tour in Los Angeles and San Diego, California, USA.

ADI and World Health Organization (WHO) came together earlier this year for a publication titled “Dementia: A Public Health Priority”.  The report raises awareness of dementia as a public health priority, to articulate a public health approach and to advocate for action at international and national levels.

According to the report:

  • The number of people living with dementia worldwide is 35.6 million and will double by 2030
  • Worldwide costs of dementia were US$604 billion in 2010
  • Countries must include dementia on their public health agendas
  • Dementia is not a normal part of ageing
  • Priority areas of action that need to be addressed within the policy and plan include:      

                        – Raising awareness

                        – Timely diagnosis

                        – Good quality continuing care and services

                        – Caregiver support

                        – Workforce training

                        – Prevention

                        – Research

These developments are particularly significant for developing countries, especially those in Asia, where populations are aging much more rapidly.

Dementia Statistics

                                                                                [credit: ADI,]

In continuation with the findings of this report, the Alzheimer’s Study Tour will explore research and treatment protocols for early stage dementia and share learning experiences through site visits.  Registration ends August 2, 2012.  Don’t miss this chance to be a part of the international collaboration to address the global crisis.

Dr. Taylor is at it again! He has just uploaded his presentations from the London Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference and has written another blog entry about his life. Having been diagnosed in 2000, he has been an active campaigner for person centred care and respect for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease. Check out this video of his story.

Alzheimer’s Disease International 27th International Conference was one of the most successful ever, as activists and world leaders came together to discuss the science and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Check out this video hosted by Daisy Acosta and Marc Wortmann highlighting the event.

Want more information on Alzheimer’s disease treatment? Consider joining our study tour this fall.

The 27th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International starts on tomorrow 7 March 2012  in London.

Conceived as ‘three conferences in one’, the event will feature parallel sessions focusing on scientific advances, social support interventions, and technological measures to address the disease.  This conference  involves professionals, scientists, researchers, policy makers, people living with dementia, informal and professional carers and all Alzheimer association staff and volunteers alike. Despite dreary statistics on the expected growth of dementia, this will be a conference that expands awareness and understanding of the disease and develops research networks to search for a cure.  The International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing wishes Alzheimer’s Disease International a successful conference. If you’re attending the event use  the hashtag #ADI2012  on Twitter to share your thoughts during the event!

Check out this video that provides highlights of the event!

Have you seen the new video highlighting the “House for Betty” concept and design? The video highlights how a home could be “future proofed” and marketed to persons with a genetic propensity for Alzheimer’s type dementia. Unique features of the property include safe wandering paths, bathrooms and kitchens designed for elders, and safety and accessibility features that allow ageing in place.

House for Betty from Perkins Eastman Videos on Vimeo.

The government of Switzerland has recently unveiled plans to construct a mock 1950’s village for people living with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. The proposed village will be worth approximately 20 million Euros and will be constructed close to Wiedlisbach near Born. The village will be able to house about 150 residents in 1950’s style houses. The architects purposely developed a design to invoke the atmosphere of the era.  The building plans call for no closed doors so that residents will be able to move about freely. The carers will also participate in the effort to resurrect the 1950’s by dressing in typical garb of shopkeepers, beauticians, and groundskeepers of the era.

Markus Vögtlin, the Swiss entrepreneur behind the construction says that he struck upon the idea after visiting the Hogeway nursing home in Holland. Proponents of the model argue that reinventing the past can help Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers have a greater sense of normalcy during the advanced stages of the disease. Detractors argue that the model is deceptive and inefficient. Interested in learning more about alternatives in Alzheimer’s and dementia care? Why not join us on our study tour in California this year?

Kitchen at Hogeway Care Home, Holland

The International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (IAHSA) is co-sponsoring a series of three study tours during 2012. The first tour is co-sponsored by the LeadingAge Centre for Aging Services Technologies and will feature facilities in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. that are using technologies to help increase efficiency, support clients and gain competitive advantage. The second tour is co-sponsored by the LeadingAge Centre for Applied Research and will take place in September 2012. This tour focuses on emerging delivery models that integrate housing and services. Finally, IAHSA has the pleasure of co-sponsoring a study tour in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Disease International. Centred in California, USA, this study tour will provide shared learning experiences in  best practices in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Details for the tours are as follows:

Technology (15 – 21 April) – This study tour will explore trends in care provision and use of technology to adapt to the changing environment and consumer demands. Facilities will be visited in New York City, Harrisburg, PA, and Silver Spring MD.  The deadline for registration is February 1.  Information on the tour and registration is available at:

 Affordable Housing and services (10 – 15 September) – Study tour #2 will focus on efforts to bring health and supportive services to affordable senior housing communities as a strategy for helping low-income older people age in place even as they struggle with frailty, disability and chronic illness.  You will learn about the types of services and supports offered at over 5 facilities, with a special focus on delivery mechanisms and funding sources.   Information on the tour and registration is available at:

Alzheimer’s Disease (15 – 20 October) –  This tour will explore research and treatment protocols for early stage dementia as well as provide a shared learning experience for professionals that provide memory care. Through site visits in Los Angeles and San Diego as well as didactic sessions with Dr. Debra Cherry, this  tour showcases the latest approaches in  dementia and Alzheimer’s research.  Information on the Alzheimer’s tour is available at:

A new study from the Arts Health Institute in New South Wales, Australia, found that weekly clowning sessions were as effective as standard antipsychotic medication in reducing agitation among people with Alzheimer’s disease.     For the study, a specially trained “Elder Clown” conducted weekly humor sessions using a host of laughter-inducing tools that ranged from music and mime to visual sight-gags, irreverent jokes and funny props.   Between these sessions, trained staff members continued to conduct humor therapy with residents.    By the end of the study there was a reduction in both physically and verbally aggressive behavior.  In addition, residents showed signs of reduced agitation at least 26 weeks after therapy began.

IAHSA and Alzheimer’s Disease International are sponsoring a study tour in California October 2012 that will explore research and treatment protocols for early stage dementia as well as provide a shared learning experience through site visits to communities providing care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.     Please join us on this important tour.

A recent survey by The National Family Caregivers Association  in the US showed that the biggest fear for the majority of family caregivers is their loved one’s general health and physical decline followed by the fear that Alzheimer’s will rob their loved one of the ability to communicate.     The survey shows that the progressive inability to properly communicate is more than just a fear, it is a major source of stress, which interferes with the caregivers obligation and ability to function responsibly.

It is estimated that 5.4 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease are being cared for by almost 15 million unpaid caregivers, including family, friends, partners and neighbors.  The NFCA provides information designed specifically for Alzheimer’s family caregivers, including advice on how caregivers can communicate with their loved ones and others involved in the patient’s care.

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IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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