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Dementia UntangledDec 15, 2021
Season 8 Revisited (with Amber Ayers)
Season 8 has been full of inspirational storytellers and advocates for the dementia community. Our hosts with special guest Amber Ayers once again discuss which episodes surprised them, which ones they felt a connection with, and what they took away from the entire season. Don’t miss this special revisited episode to gain insight into what made this season so unique, and which surprises you will have to revisit for yourself.
Artificial Intelligence for Dementia Care (with Dr. Linda Buscemi)
The reactions of someone with dementia to certain situations may prove difficult for caregivers to appropriately respond. Psychologist and chief clinical officer of Taproot, Dr. Linda Buscemi, helps us untangle these situations of resistance and offers a technological solution that is like having a psychologist in your pocket. She explains her company’s app “Ella,” and how it uses artificial intelligence to deliver a person-centered approach to care with non-pharmacological solutions.
Independent Living with Dementia (with Harbhajan Khalsa)
With the majority of older Americans desiring to age in place, it becomes challenging as dementia progresses to remain at home – especially if you live alone. We wanted to find out more about successful independent living with dementia, so we turned to Harbhajan Khalsa, the Dementia Capable Southern Arizona Program director. We talk about the negative effects of social isolation, how to encourage your local community to become “dementia friendly,” and what supportive resources are available to people on the dementia journey.
All About Men’s Brain Health (with Dr. Robert W. Turner II)
Men are less likely to participate in Alzheimer’s research and seek a diagnosis. This lack of representation extends more specifically to Black men. We enlisted Dr. Robert W. Turner II, an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, to help us answer questions about why these conversations are so important to have. We also discuss how to create a supportive community for men to talk about brain health and get involved in research.
Exploring Age-Friendly Hospitals (with Dr. Nimit Agarwal)
Managing the healthcare of older adults, especially those with dementia, requires a different approach. We connected with Dr. Nimit Agarwal, an associate professor and Chief of Geriatric Medicine at University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix to talk to him about a “new philosophy” that physicians and healthcare workers are learning in age-friendly hospitals. The initiative is driven by focusing on treating the disease and connecting on what matters to the patient, focusing on the individual.
An Advocacy Journey (with Jamie Tyrone)
Would you want to know if you have a higher risk of developing dementia? We asked Jamie Tyrone, an author, patient advocate, and research participant to share her personal journey of discovering her genetic status after being wrongly diagnosed with a life-altering disease. Her experience has driven her to not only become a research participant, but also to share her story in her book, “Fighting for My Life: How to Thrive in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s.” Her story is inspirational and informative for anyone interested in dementia research and personal advocacy.
Yoga for a Healthy Lifestyle (with Dr. Helen Lavretsky)
Mind/body awareness can be a very powerful approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle. It can even have a positive effect on our cognitive abilities, according to Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. She joins us to discuss the benefits of mindful practices like yoga for people with dementia and dementia caregivers, and the different types of yoga. She also shares info about her ongoing studies to better understand the positive role yoga plays in overall health.
Untangling Caregiving (with Gerrie Jakobs)
The term “caregiver” can be interpreted in so many ways, so it’s not always easy to accept the label. We wanted to dive deeper into the caregiver perspective, so we enlisted Licensed Clinical Social Worker Gerrie Jakobs from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. She shares with us the importance of identifying your role(s) to better navigate the journey - and preserve your own health - by using practical strategies to ask for help and focus on self-care.
Biological Sex Differences in Dementia (with Dr. Geidy Serrano)
Men’s and women’s health issues can be very different from one another, but does that apply to our brains? We untangle this complicated topic with Dr. Geidy Serrano, director of the Neuropathology Lab at the Brain & Body Donation Program at Banner Sun Health Research Institute. We explore how dementia affects our brains differently depending on our biological sex, and how recent studies have exposed new information about the effects of longevity and hormonal changes on our chances of developing dementia.
Writing Your Own Caregiving Story (with Jacquelyn Revere)
Everyone’s dementia caregiving journey looks different, which means everyone has a unique story to tell. We explore Jacquelyn Revere’s story as a dementia caregiver influencer who created “Mom of my Mom,” a platform that has allowed her to share her story with over a million followers across social media. She takes us through her story as a millennial caregiver who found an outlet for her passion to share what it was like to care for her mom and grandmother, while finding another side of herself in the process.
Season 7 Revisited (with Amber Ayers)
Season 7 has been full of amazing stories and perspectives about the dementia journey and beyond. Our hosts with special guest, Amber Ayers, discuss which episodes surprised them, which ones they felt a connection with, and what they took away from the entire season. Listen in for their unique personal experiences with our guests and discover what inspires future seasons of the podcast.
What You Don’t Know About Getting a Dementia Diagnosis (with Dr. Parichita Choudhury)
Over half of all people with dementia never get a diagnosis. We untangle this issue with Dr. Parichita Choudhury, a Cognitive Neurologist at Banner Sun Health Research Institute, and discover why seeking a diagnosis is so important and how to proceed. She shares a little about the future of diagnosing and how much easier it will be to identify numerous brain dysfunctions and help people live a higher quality of life with dementia.
Unlocking the Power of your Senses (with Dr. Jennifer Stelter)
Stimulating our senses like smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste can access memories locked away in our brains from years ago. We explore the power of olfactory stimulation with Dr. Jennifer Stelter, a clinical psychologist and creator of the Dementia Connection model, and how it can be used as a non-pharmacological approach to care. She explains how things like essential oils and touch can help caregivers to modify unwanted behaviors and create a supportive environment for their loved one.
Do Plaques in Your Arteries Create Plaques in Your Brain? (with Dr. Craig Weinkauf)
Heart health and brain health are often linked together, and damage can come to both of these areas due to build-up of plaques. To better define the difference between the two, we talk to Dr. Craig Weinkauf, a Vascular Surgeon and Immunologist at the University of Arizona. He warns us of the effects of Carotid Artery Disease on brain health, and how his collaborative research hopes to help us better understand the connection between heart health and dementia.
Creating Opportunities for Engagement (with Missy Paschke-Wood)
The importance of enriching activities in our daily lives cannot be understated, but it can be challenging to find appropriate activities for your loved one with dementia. We talk to Missy Paschke-Wood, the Community Life Director at Hacienda at the Canyon in Tucson, about her passion of connecting the arts to the dementia community and how people can thrive with the appropriate stimulation and support. She shares her creative ideas for projects you can do at home, or ways to get out in the community and explore.
Connecting Down Syndrome and Dementia (with Dr. Peter Bulova)
Dementia is the most significant health issue for aging adults with down syndrome. Professor of Medicine and Director of University of Pittsburgh Adult Down Syndrome Center, Dr. Peter Bulova, helps us untangle the common brain concerns between down syndrome and dementia, how amyloid factors in, and someone with intellectual disabilities may be at higher risk for receiving a delayed diagnosis of dementia. He speaks to how his research findings can ideally be useful to people with dementia, outside of the down syndrome population.
Tips, Tricks and Tools (with Dr. Christi Belden)
Everyone uses compensatory strategies in their daily lives, whether it’s recognized as that or not, to help us perform tasks in an alternative manner or by using adaptive aids so that we can be more independent. Dr. Christi Belden, a Neuropsychologist at Banner Sun Health Research Institute, helps us untangle some of the top strategies to use if you are experiencing memory or thinking difficulties. She shares some of the most effective tips, tricks, and tools that we can use in daily life to make life flow for ourselves and our loved ones.
Advocating for the Diagnosis (with Nicole Bell)
The dementia journey often brings up the topic of advocacy - whether it’s for family support, financial support, or sometimes just to get a diagnosis. Our guest, Nicole Bell, the author of What Lurks in the Woods and an entrepreneur in medical devices, shares her family’s story of receiving a dementia diagnosis for her husband, and continuing to search for answers. Her honest portrayal of her caregiving journey is inspiring and educational, and her storytelling abilities will draw you into her unique experience.
Sleep for Wellness (with Dr. Joyce Lee-Iannotti)
Quality rest isn’t always easy to make a priority, especially when you are experiencing stress, loss, or overexertion. We talk with Dr. Joyce Lee-Iannotti, a sleep and stroke neurologist at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix, about the importance of good sleep and the benefit for your brain. She highlights the importance of leveraging simple things on our own that can help reduce the risk of dementia as diagnosis rates continue to climb. At the top of her list: quality and quantity of sleep.
Untangling The Grieving Brain (with Mary-Frances O’Connor)
Dementia caregivers often have complicated feelings around grief and loss throughout the dementia journey. We talk with Mary-Frances O’Connor, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona and author of The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss, about emotions and changes that come with grief. She talks us through the scientific process of understanding how our brains process grief and why we experience it, what can trigger painful emotions and sensitivities, and why it’s important for us to acknowledge our expression of it.
Season 6 Revisited (with Amber Ayers)
Each season we dive deeper into the dementia journey to untangle new perspectives, connections, and explanations for caregivers and the community. Season six blew away our expectations with passionate and informative conversations you won’t want to miss. Heather, Janice, and Amber talk about some of the moments that really resonated with them, and what chats inspired them to take action.
Bridging the Dementia Care Gap (with Carrie Langford)
The number of people diagnosed with dementia is far outpacing the number of specialists in the field. With more than 10 million new diagnoses each year, experts are getting creative on how to provide the best level of care to patients and their families. This week’s guest is Carrie Langford, a Licensed Master Social Worker at Banner Sun Health Research Institute. She shares the creative approach she and her team have taken through Dementia Care Partners. The program strategically partners with primary care offices to provide those patients living with dementia resources, education, and skills training to family caregivers. By leveraging Health Coaches, the program can leave the clinical care to the physician but help with day-to-day concerns and provide support strategies at home, which have shown to reduce some caregiving burden and cost of health care.
Can Marijuana Help Dementia Symptoms? (with Dr. Danielle Cabral)
The idea of marijuana being used for medical purposes has a storied past. As it becomes legal in more states, the stigma around it is being reduced and more are considering the applications to medical conditions. In this episode, Dr. Danielle Cabral, a double board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist at Banner Sun Health Research Institute, answers all our questions about marijuana. She even untangles possible benefits for those with dementia by reducing agitation and addressing other related issues.
Improving Cognitive Performance with Your Favorite Music (with Dr. Michael Thaut)
Time and time again, we’ve heard how much of an impact music can have on our brains, so we’re talking to Dr. Michael Thaut, a professor in the faculty of music and the faculty of medicine at University of Toronto, to learn more about improving our brain plasticity and cognitive performance by listening to our favorite music. Dr. Thaut untangles the science behind this method and shares with us his experience as a professional musician and how it crossed with his passion for brain processes that are connected to music to help people with dementia and their quality of life. We learn how music-based interventions can retrain some brain function and support neurodevelopmental brain function.
How to Make Your Home Dementia Friendly (with Jennifer Reeder)
Creating a safe environment for someone with dementia is a top priority, especially when your loved one wishes to stay in their own home while they can. Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, the Director of Education and Social Services at Alzheimer’s Foundation of America helps us identify simple, helpful ways to make your home more dementia-friendly. She shares some key elements to be mindful of that make it easier for someone living with dementia to stay safe and comfortable as their cognition declines.
Representation Matters: Dementia in the Arts (with Steven Drukman)
In this special bonus episode, playwright Steven Drukman untangles his soon-to-be world premiered play, Pru Payne. Exploring the experience of Prudence, a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Steven shares his inspiration for creating his vibrant characters and their story, as well as his own personal journey with dementia in his family. He encourages us to “live in the moment” with this inspirational play and why representation matters in our artistic experiences.
Across the Spectrum: The LGBTQIA+ Experience with Dementia (with Dr. Jason Flatt)
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community deal with health disparities and discrimination, even from health care providers. This creates challenges when it comes to education around dementia, and access to resources and support. Dr. Jason Flatt, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Public Health, is our guest to help untangle these common issues and recognize opportunities for support and care for older LGBTQIA+ people. Jason also reinforces the importance of representation for this group and encourages everyone to get involved in research, especially if you identify as a part of a minority community.
The Effects of Substance Use in Older Adults (with Dr. Pallavi Joshi)
Dr. Pallavi Joshi, Geriatric Psychiatrist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute helps us better understand the connection between substance use and dementia in older adults. Sometimes considered a taboo topic, she breaks down the different types of substances that can increase one’s chance of cognitive decline, gives us updated terms to better understand the topic, and how intervening early can change the trajectory of the outcome of substance use disorders.
A Purposeful Life with FTD (with Laurie Scherrer)
After visiting five different doctors to finally get an accurate diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), our guest Laurie Scherrer found herself feeling lost and hopeless. She felt invisible, alone, and unsure about the rest of her life. That is, until she took her diagnosis into her own hands and found resources, support, and a new outlook on her life. This conversation with Laurie will inspire anyone on the dementia journey to stop wasting time and start having a happy life.
How to Get Your Affairs in Order (with Emily Kile)
After a diagnosis of dementia, people are often told to “get your affairs in order.” Our guest Emily Kile, an Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, helps us untangle what that refers to and how to start planning now for legal concerns that we may have in the future on the dementia journey. It’s never too early to develop an estate plan, and Emily helps us understand where to start, what questions to ask, and why it’s so important to have a plan in place as dementia progresses.
The Loneliness of Alzheimer’s (with Susan Frick)
You can begin to feel a bit alone after receiving your dementia diagnosis. You may feel a loss of purpose and your ability to stay connected to others around you becomes more challenging as the disease progresses. Our guest this week is a social worker with Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (RADC) who talks to us about the realities of feeling loneliness. Expert Susan Frick helps untangle not only the feelings as a person living with the disease, but also the caregiver who is supporting their loved one. She paints us a picture of what this may feel like and how caregivers and community members can help alleviate some of these feelings. She also encourages people to talk about their situation and reduce stigma around the disease.
Season 5 Revisited (with Amber Ayers)
Every season of “Dementia Untangled” often reveals and underlying theme and this one was no different. This time, we revisit some of our favorite moments from Season 5 with our editor/producer Amber Ayers and discuss our theme of hope. It’s been said “hope is a survivor trait” and the stories we heard have reassured us that there IS hope for the future, ways to live well with dementia, and the approaching day when we have our first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.
Strategies for Traveling with Dementia (with Jan Dougherty)
Traveling can provide many benefits to our well-being, but also may create anxiety and stress, even without cognitive changes happening. Jan Dougherty joins us this week to share practical strategies to help alleviate some of the stressors that can be created by traveling with dementia and reinforces the benefits of travel for one’s mental health. She untangles how, even though symptoms may be managed well at home, that a change in location or routine may be upsetting - even with short trips to the store or doctor’s office.
How to Identify Capgras Syndrome (with Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishna)
As memory and cognitive changes progress in people with dementia, some can experience a delusional belief that a person or object has been replaced by an imposter – a syndrome known as Capgras. Our guest Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishna, a Banner Alzheimer’s Institute dementia specialist, helps us identify this behavior and offer helpful suggestions on how to re-establish trust and comfort your loved one. He shares with us how auditory connections can help avoid the anxiety that accompanies the confusion that is experienced, as well as what can be done to support and encourage caregivers that are experiencing the effects of this syndrome.
Identifying Stressors and Minimizing Challenging Behavior (with Kathleen Buckwalter)
As a loved one’s dementia diagnosis progresses, caregivers will face a change in behaviors that can sometimes be hard to manage and even overwhelming at times. In this episode, our guest Kathleen Buckwalter, a geriatric mental health nurse, teaches us about the Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold (PLST) model and how to use it to minimize some of those challenging behaviors. She untangles the effect that stress has on us all, and how she worked to identify opportunities as a caregiver to minimize it and move through most situations.
Cultural Awareness: The AAPI Perspective & Dementia (with Edie Yau)
The Asian American and Pacific Islander population is the fastest growing ethnic group in America, highlighting the need for health education and dementia support. Our guest this week is Edie Yau, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association, helps us understand the cultural beliefs and ideas around dementia that affect the perspective, care process, and barriers to getting a diagnosis for members of the AAPI community. She speaks to the importance of person-centered care, getting involved in research studies, offering resources in native languages, and considering cultural context when providing care and support for people with dementia and their families.
Is it Delirium or Dementia? (with Helle Brand)
Recognizing signs of dementia isn’t always easy and complications like delirium can make it even more difficult. In this episode our guest, Helle Brand, a physician assistant and dementia expert, dives into the complexities of each, helping us untangle the differences and what questions to ask. We discover why delirium happens, if it can turn into dementia, and how to help our loved one experiencing symptoms.
A Roadmap of Driving and Dementia (with Jenny Nordine)
Driving means so many things to us: freedom, independence, responsibility – but is it safe to drive with dementia? Jenny Nordine, an expert with Driving to Independence, helps us untangle the complicated feelings and decisions that must be made when it’s no longer a good idea to get behind the wheel. She speaks to evaluating one’s cognition and defensive driving techniques to determine one’s ability to continue driving after a diagnosis, as well as what steps to take when it’s time to give up the keys.
The Experience that Unites Dementia Caregivers (with Katharine Halpin)
The dementia journey is incredibly unique for each individual, including the more than 11 million caregivers in the United States. This week, Katharine Halpin joins the conversation to share her experience as a caregiver for her wife living with Alzheimer’s disease. She untangles the early signs of the disease that she later connected to the beginning of her wife’s cognitive decline and how they now share in enrichment programs designed to benefit not only the person with the disease, but also the caregiver. She gives us insight into participating in clinical trials to help contribute to the research side of the disease, and how much joy they’ve been able to find on their journey.
Giving Voice to People with Dementia (with Eyleen Braaten)
There is always an opportunity to find new ways to live well with dementia. This week our guest, Eyleen Braaten from Giving Voice Initiative gives us insight on the benefits of using our voices to sing and sing together for a myriad of enrichment opportunities. She untangles the cognitive benefits of participating in a choir for both participants and their families, creating a deep sense of value and contribution to the community. Her own experience as a member of the “Sandwich Generation,” a phrase coined for those caring for children and an older loved one, created feelings of isolation. But she found hope and community as a caregiver and was also inspired to start a career with the Giving Voice Initiative.
The Science of Preventing Alzheimer’s (with Dr. Mike Malek-Ahmadi)
Is there a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? We asked our guest, Dr. Mike Malek-Ahmadi, a Bioinformatics Scientist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, this exact question. He carefully untangles the biology behind the disease, what scientists have identified as the cause of cognitive problems that occur, and how they hope to identify people before they show symptoms and intervene earlier to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s. He shares his goals of changing from a clinical to a biological diagnosis for Alzheimer’s by identifying the presence of a bio marker for disease before seeing any cognitive decline – eventually leading to the first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.
Season 4 Revisited (with Amber Ayers)
We look back and revisit some of our favorite moments from Season 4, as well as dive a little deeper and untangle the podcast experience of our hosts and editor/producer Amber Ayers. Learn more about how our experiences help shape the conversations we have with our guests and how each episode offers new knowledge and perspectives on the disease, the community, and the resources available. Is there a topic you're interested in learning more about? Email us at DementiaUntangled@bannerhealth.com
The Power of Music for Dementia (with Grace Meadows)
There’s no denying the ability music has to meet us where we are, brighten our mood, or even comfort us in our sadness, so it’s no surprise that it can have a dynamic effect on people with dementia. We get to chat with Grace Meadows, the campaign director for Music for Dementia and a music therapist, about how music can connect people at all stages of the disease and create a sense of community and comfort. She explains how even if a person is non-verbal, they can participate and often show signs of happiness and understanding, enriching lives through music.
Palliative Care through a Dementia Lens (with Dr. Matt Malone)
Early delivery of palliative care for our person with dementia can reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions and the use of health services, delivering a comfort approach to care. We talk with Dr. Matt Malone, a geriatric psychiatrist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to learn more about this approach and why it’s so important to consider goals of care for our person. We learn that palliative care isn’t just for life-limiting illness, but something that can be a part of a disease process. He talks about how to help families make the least-worst decision to balance risks vs. benefits to meet an individual’s goal for care.
Cultural Awareness: The Black Perspective and Dementia (with Dr. Fayron Epps)
Individuals within the black community are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as their white counterparts, but it is less commonly acknowledged and diagnosed, creating large disparities in education, support, and care. We chat with Dr. Fayron Epps, an Assistant Professor at Emory University and founder of Alter, about her inspiration to research the impact of dementia on the black community, and how she took on the responsibility of educating and supporting those people in it. She acknowledges what she calls “Black Superwoman Syndrome” that some caregivers feel, refusing help from others, adding additional stress and burden to them, and encourages them to activate their community, including their faith community for support. She talks about the “Caregiving While Black” course she helped develop, focused on empowering black caregivers to properly advocate for their person when they interact with the health system, educate them about insurance and coverages, and provide resources.
Emergency Situations Involving a Person with Dementia (with Tracey Wilkinson)
While we hope to avoid emergency situations with our loved ones, it’s a reality that is best to be prepared for – not only as a caregiver, but also as a person working as a first responder. We talk with Tracey Wilkinson, a Crisis Intervention Specialist with Scottsdale Police Department, about the special training program she has helped develop for public safety officers and first responders to be more prepared in situations that require a different approach for someone with cognitive impairment. She also offers helpful tips and actionable steps to make sure you are prepared as a caregiver in an emergency, to ensure your person is cared for in the best possible way.
Untangling Medications (with Dr. Jaclyn Robinson)
Older adults often have multiple medical conditions, requiring more than one medication – add dementia to the list and all of those interactions can get confusing and complicated. We talk with Dr. Jaclyn Robinson, a geriatrician at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, about how to have conversations with our doctor about our medications, both prescribed and over the counter, to ensure we are utilizing them properly and safely. She has a special interest in medication management and deprescribing medications, focusing on whole patient care and support. She also discusses medications used to treat people with dementia and what expectations patients and families should have around them.
Strategies to Manage Family Conflict (with Lori Nisson)
About 83% of caregivers are family members, friends, or neighbors taking care of someone, with about half of those caring for someone with dementia. Our guest Lori Nisson, Banner Health’s Family & Community Services Director, helps us untangle the difficult topic of managing conflicts that inevitably arise throughout the dementia journey. She gives us tangible actions to take and feel supported through the emotional, physical, and financial strain caregiving may create. If left unaddressed, these stressful situations can result in emotionally charged altercations and feelings of guilt or depression.
A Doctor’s Experience: Living with Lewy Body Dementia (with Dr. Gary Schmidt)
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a leading type of progressive dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease. But this condition still isn’t well understood and can be difficult to diagnose. We chat with Dr. Gary Schmidt, a retired primary care physician who is living with LBD, and he shares his unique perspective and insight on thriving with this disease. He provides strategies that have helped him face the changes that come with the disease, as well as his passion for continued education and sharing his experience with everyone. He is currently working to reduce stigma by encouraging open communication and involving his community in his journey. He also uses his unique experience as a doctor to encourage medical professionals to listen to their patients, their symptoms, their history, and not simply “checking the boxes”.
Dementia Advocacy on Every Level (with Dana Marie Kennedy)
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most critical public health issues in America. This week Dana Marie Kennedy, the Arizona State Director of AARP, joins the conversation to share her perspective and how we can be encouraged to speak up, share our story, and advocate for our loved ones and ourselves. She talks about efforts she’s seen come to fruition at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as ongoing efforts. Dana reminds us that advocacy is non-partisan - elected officials are here to serve us and make efforts toward initiatives that are important to their constituents.