Ecumen To Receive National Award for Excellence in Dementia Care

Ecumen will receive a national honor March 17 as the winner of the Excellence in Dementia Care Award presented by LeadingAge and EMA at the Great Minds Gala in Washington, D.C.

Ecumen is receiving the award for its Awakenings program, which over the last five years has significantly reduced the use of antipsychotic drugs on dementia residents in its communities by implementing non-pharmaceutical approaches to managing challenging behaviors associated with dementia.

"Alzheimer's Disease affects more than 5 million people, many of whom are cared for by our members or informal caregivers," said Larry Minnix, LeadingAge's president and CEO. "We hope that the examples set by this year's honorees highlight the work that is being done to care for those affected while we search for a cure."

The awards gala will be held in conjunction with the PEAK Leadership Summit of LeadingAge, the national trade association for not-for-profit aging services organizations, focused on education, advocacy and applied research.  EMA is a nationally recognized leader in dementia and memory related illnesses with its Copper Ridge Model of Care© and The Copper Ridge Institute affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It is a leader in the research, education and treatment of dementia and memory related illnesses.

Along with Ecumen will be three other honorees, all selected for their “exceptional leadership in the quest to improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.”

Country music entertainer Glen Campbell and his family will receive the Senator William Proxmire Award for their advocacy for research, education and support related to Alzheimer’s disease since 2011, when the disease was diagnosed in the country singer. Sharing the award will be film director/producer James Keach and producer Trevor Albert, whose documentary about Campbell's career and experiences with Alzheimer's disease is expected to be released soon.

The award is named for the late U.S. Senator, who had Alzheimer’s disease and lived at an EMA facility. "The Great Minds Gala is the realization of the vision of Ellen Proxmire, wife of the late Senator William Proxmire, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994 and spent the last 5 years of his life at Copper Ridge," said Jackie Harris, president and CEO of EMA. "We're delighted to bring Ellen's passion for supporting caregivers to a national platform through this partnership with LeadingAge."

The Family Caregiver Award will be presented to Kathy Ritchie of Phoenix, a dementia advocate whose mother has dementia and who writes a blog for young caregivers.

Proceeds from the event will be benefiting the LeadingAge Innovations Fund and the Copper Ridge Institute (CRI) for the creation and advancement of dementia programs.

Actor-Comedian Seth Rogen's Quest to Teach Young People About Alzheimer's

Actor-Comedian Seth Rogen had a personal experience with Alzheimer's that changed his thinking and focused his attention on educating others.  When his mother-in-law was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, he saw the "ugly truth" about the disease and created "Hilarity for Charity" to educate younger people and mobilize support for finding a cure.  In this testimony before a Senate Committee, Rogen tells his story with passion, conviction and humor.


This Painfully Realistic Dementia Simulation Lets You Feel What It’s Like

A newly patented program lets caregivers experience firsthand what it’s like to have dementia. Watch how this Virtual Dementia Tour quickly builds empathy by vividly simulating the deep sense of confusion associated with dementia.  ABC News reporter Cynthia MacFadden tells about the “12 minutes that changed by life.”

Ecumen Promotes Matt McNeill to Director of Business Development

Matt McNeill has been promoted to director of business development at Ecumen.

McNeill joined Ecumen a year ago as regional sales and marketing manager. Prior to that, he was corporate director of marketing for Walker Methodist and has worked at StoneArch Creative in Minneapolis, Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin and University of Chicago Hospitals. He has over 10 years of strategy development, marketing planning and sales team leadership, as well as advertising agency and business development background.

“At a time when Ecumen is looking to expand its new developments, we are fortunate to have someone of Matt’s diverse experience and capabilities already on staff,” said Julie Murray, Ecumen vice president of sales, marketing and business development. “This past year, Matt has done an outstanding job working with Ecumen communities to develop and improve our sales and marketing programs and implement successful marketing plans while also working on some of our new developments.”

McNeill has a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and a minor in marketing from Marquette University. 

Annual Conference for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers Set for March 1

 The annual “Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference” will be held March 1, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Saint Paul River Center to inform and support people with dementia along with their family and friends and professional caregivers.

Ecumen’s Maria Reyes, a quality improvement nurse who champions the Ecumen Awakenings™ program, will be on a panel discussing how reducing the use of antipsychotic medications in long-term care improves lives.  Ecumen Awakenings is a pioneering approach to dementia care that emphasizes honoring the individual, using non-pharmacological and biomedical techniques, and establishing collaborative care that involves patients, physicians, care professionals, pharmacists and loved ones.

The Meeting of the Minds is organized by the Alzheimer's Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter and the Mayo Clinic.  Every year more than a 1,000 participants come together to hear national, regional and local presenters provide education and information on Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including strategies for caregiving, legal and financial planning, and cutting-edge research.

People with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia are encouraged to attend the conference, along with care partners, family and friends.  Recognized experts will conduct breakout sessions on a wide range of topics and exhibitors will provide information on dementia-related products and services.

For registration details and fees and full information on the conference and session topics, go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s conference website.

In addition to the almost 30 breakout sessions, the following presenters will be keynote speakers:

  • Alexander "Sandy" Halperin, DDS, was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer's at age 60. He was relieved to have validation for the cognitive problems that were affecting his professional and personal life. Dr. Halperin has chosen to not allow the disease to define him.  He advocates that dignity, respect and inclusion are gifts worthy to each person, with or without a diagnosis.
  • Bruce L. Miller, M.D., is a professor of neurology at the University of California-San Francisco and directs the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC). He has a special interest in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and has discovered a subset of patients in whom visual or musical creativity emerges despite the progression of language and social impairment. In other words, when one part of the brain is compromised it may be possible for another part to become stronger.
  • Henry Emmons, M.D., is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body practices and compassion into his clinical work. His teachings and programs combine movement, nutrition, natural therapies and mindfulness to help restore resilience and rediscover joy.

Ecumen, which has 25 memory care communities in five states, is a sponsor of the Meeting of Minds Conference.  We invite you to stop by our booth.

Rock ‘n Roll Superstar Bobby Vee, now 70, Battles Alzheimer’s With Faith, Grace — and Music

Three years ago, Bobby Vee started forgetting the lyrics to the hit songs he had performed thousands of times since the height of his career in the 1960s.  Alzheimer’s was stealing his memory.  But not his spirit. 

Deciding he was going to live every day to the fullest doing what he loved, Bobby and his family found comfort in music as they jammed together.   An album of Bobby’s favorites evolved, and it has just been released.

In this Land of 10,000 Stories feature, KARE-11 TV’s Boyd Huppert takes us close up with Bobby and his family as they continue to find joy in the music that has brought so much joy to others over the past 50 years. 

National Wear Red Day - Raising Awareness in the Fight Against Heart Disease in Women

Women (and men) across the country are wearing red for "National Wear Red Day" today. At Ecumen, we see the effects heart disease has on women of all ages. Many of our employees are wearing red today to support more research and awareness of the No. 1 killer of women.

Please join us by learning more about heart disease and stroke at, including "Factors That Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease."

From a Global Perspective, Americans More Optimistic About Old Age

We have the opportunity at Ecumen to serve many optimistic people.  But a new report by the Pew Research Center shows the United States is generally in a better place attitudinally about old age than the rest of the world.

The reason why may surprise you.  The United States is aging more slowly than Europe or Asia largely because of its high rate of immigration. And the study shows that younger countries like America tend to be more optimistic.

See Washington Post reporter Tara Bahrampour’s story on the Pew report and its implications.


A Super Bowl Star’s On-Going Contest with Dementia

 As Super Bowl Week builds with excitement, Dallas Cowboys legend Rayfield Wright goes about his life in a fog of dementia.  He played in five Super Bowls, helped win two, and even 35 years after retirement is still considered one of the best offensive linemen who ever played the game.  But now he is broke— physically, mentally and financially.

Wright, 68, is one of the 4,500 former NFL players suing the league for compensation for repeated head injuries suffered while playing the game.  Studies have repeatedly shown that NFL players have dementia, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases with greater frequency than the general population.  The lawsuit, currently in the settlement process, contends the NFL concealed what it knew about head injuries.

In a moving profile of Wright, The New York Times’ Juliet Macur reminds us of the price our Super Bowl heroes sometimes pay.  Wright can’t make ends meet on his $82.20 a month NFL pension after years of dealing with medical bills associated with his repeated head injuries.  In his 13 seasons with the Cowboys, “Big Cat” sustained “more concussions that I can count,” including one during his first NFL start in 1969.

Top 10 Trends in Senior Housing for 2014

 You may have heard that “80 is the new 65.”  Longevity is a force driving many trends, especially because Boomers have a different attitude about aging than the generation before them.  Two big variables— money and health—are fundamental to how seniors will face the future.  For a deeper insight in how all this is unfolding go to “Top 10 Trends in Senior Housing for 2014,”published by Senior Housing News, a leading trade publication.  Let us know if there are trends you would add.