My professional work focuses on educating care partners, both family and professionals, to help people LIVE - not just exist - with dementia. It is not uncommon to see residents in nursing facilities and assisted living communities kept clean, fed, groomed, and sitting in front of a television set or nurses' station; merely existing. People with dementia need to be engaged in meaningful activities and they need to feel wanted and loved, need to feel as if they still can contribute.

While current events have brought dementia issues to the public eye, such as the critically-acclaimed movie "Still Alice" and Glen Campbell's very public struggle with Alzheimer's disease, the general public and professionals continue to need to hear my message about people with dementia living with quality in their lives until they take their last breath.

I have been working with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, a major hospice organization, for over 7 years. In 2014, their program for patients with advanced dementia, "A Touch for all Seasons," became Namaste Care™ in all of their sites across the country. They sponsor me to speak about end-of-life care throughout the United States.

In 2015 I will be helping to start Namaste Care™ in the Netherlands and Canada and returning to the United Kingdom to give workshops and presentations on Namaste Care™ and The Club, a program for people with moderate dementia. This program is designed to meet the physical and social needs of people with moderate dementia by engaging people in meaningful activities throughout their waking hours. Research shows that this program lowers falls, decreases the use of psychotropic medication, and increases staff and family satisfaction.

I'm hoping to reignite the interest in The Memory Enhancement Program (MEP) that is for people with mild memory loss. This program provides the comfort of a structured day with a small circle of "friends." Staff and families find that residents who become part of the MEP are happier and more verbal. According to anecdotal reports from nursing staff, memory loss slows down for residents in the MEP. Decreases in stress for participants may be attributed to the comfortable, safe environment and time spent with "friends" and a staff person. With the socialization that occurs in the group along with right brain, left brain, and physical exercises, participants remain more alert and aware of their surroundings.

My primary work continues to be consulting with assisted living and long-term care facilities. Like much in my life, this was an unplanned career. As the mother of four children and short-term mom to multiple foster babies, the issues of children were my passion. But I fell in love with the elderly, especially people with dementia, the day I stepped into my first nursing facility in Ithaca, New York, and never looked back.

My motto, thanks to a plaque my husband gave to me for our anniversary, is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

And so my friends - LEAVE A TRAIL!

If you would like to talk with me further at anytime, please send an e-mail to joycesimard@earthlink.net.

I look forward to hearing from you,