AST is proud to have multiple staff members presenting at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto this July 24-28. On Wednesdays leading up to the conference, we’ll be giving you a sneak peek into each presentation. Check out the first instalment here. This is the second preview, featuring social worker, Ekta and project coordinator, Romina!
After months of hard work and dedication, Ekta and Romina will be sharing Boomers Club on an international level– and they couldn’t be more thrilled. Boomers Club is a program designed for those 65 and under, and provides a space for this particular group of individuals.
For Ekta, the program has a very special meaning that gets personal:
“Being part of a program like Boomers Club was my dream. My mother lived with Young Onset Alzheimer’s. I was 13 when she was diagnosed and she was just 43. When I moved to Toronto, I had hoped there would be many such programs that I could be part of. However, I was sad to find there was nothing concrete available. Romina and I decided to start this program in the fall of 2015 to see how the community would respond and we are overwhelmed and thrilled that they want more, more and a lot more.”
Ekta highlights perfectly why it is so important to talk about programs for people with Young Onset Alzheimer’s; there aren’t many available and we don’t often talk about how we can meet the needs of these individuals.
What do we want audiences to take away from our Boomers Club program?
“It’s my hope that those attending the conference see the benefit of the program and consider implementing it in their organizations or as part of their services. Or at least begin the conversation about how they can better meet the needs of people with young onset dementia.
One of the goals of the Boomers club is to challenge the stigma of people living with dementia. The men and women in of our group are vibrant, talented, passionate, and prove to us every single session that you can live well with dementia,” Romina said.
Ekta added, “I hope people see this as more than just a program. It uses a relationship-centred approach. Care partners and people living with dementia come together and share parts of their lives with us and we share parts of our lives with them. They drive the group. They come to us with their daily joys and struggles. It is 2 hours away from stigma, boredom, routine and challenges.”
The Boomers Club group is a source of weekly inspiration for Romina. “Each week, we introduce a new activity (arts and crafts, laughter yoga, drumming, music, etc.) and the group‘s enthusiasm and commitment to jumping in is inspiring. One quote from a participant perfectly encapsulates the mood of the sessions: ‘There is always so much laughter here’.”
If you doubted the power of Boomers Club, let Ekta convince you:
“We just completed another 8-week session. Our group was almost double in size. We have some great informal bonds among families now. They are carpooling, sharing ideas, having coffee together and now wanting us to continue the program weekly. Need I say more?”
Ekta Hattangady is a Social Worker at the Alzheimer Society. She provides counselling and education for people with dementia and their caregivers. Her particular interest is in helping families understand and address responsive behaviours. Having been a teen caregiver for her mother who had Young Onset Alzheimer’s, she is passionate about working with families impacted by Early Onset Dementia. She co-created and co-facilitates the Boomers Club – a fun wellness program for people with Young Onset Dementias and their care partners. Ekta has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has worked in the dementia care field in India, USA and Canada.
Romina Oliverio is a Project Coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. In her role at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, she coordinates Minds in Motion, a program blending physical exercise and recreational therapy for people in early stages of dementia and their caregivers, as well as co-facilitates the Boomers Club, a recreational program for people living with Young Onset Dementia and their care partners. Romina is a graduate of the Gerontology program at Ryerson University and the Dementia Studies Program at Conestoga College in Waterloo and has undergone training in Montessori Methods for Dementia, Behavioural Support Training, and Palliative Care for Dementia, amongst others. Romina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and also on Twitter.