Families and communities seeking an understanding of the stages of dementia or wanting to know how to untangle dementia for themselves or their staff can arrange for a consultation or education event with Tam.
Passionate about teaching others what dementia is, Tam's educational events clearly explain dementia and how it progresses in the brain. A master at translating medical jargon into easy to understand terms, Tam walks the audience through how the disease starts, how it presents itself in each stage of dementia and how to provide care for a loved one or resident, even when their behaviors may be challenging. From diagnosis to death, her expert advise and explanations change families' lives.
Armed with humor and straight forward honest talk, Tam uses decades of professional experience, personal stories and compassion to educate caregivers. Tam's audiences regularly respond to her presentations by awarding her the highest possible grade for speaking and presentation at each conference. Tam routinely receives the top marks for expertise, handouts, delivery and articulation. Staying after every event to answer questions for attendees, she dedicates herself to helping those struggling with care issues.
Seminars for professionals or groups are available in half-day, full-day or two-day presentations. All events are customized to your groups needs, but because dementia is such a complex disease process and a mission of the practice is to give people real and instantly usable instruction, Tam prefers to not speak for less than a two hour session.
Private consultations for families are available either in person or over the telephone.
Tam is available to speak to groups of all sizes about a broad range of age-related subjects, ranging from Alzheimer’s and other dementias to caregiving, normal aging and more. With her special ability to present complex and often emotionally difficult topics in a caring and loving (and entertaining) way through the use of real-life stories and everyday language, every single audience member will walk away with practical knowledge and a better understanding of how to deal with the challenges of dementia and aging.
Tam’s signature talk, which is based on the name of her popular book Untangling Dementia: A Guide to Understanding Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, provides family and professional caregivers an in-depth understanding of the disease from diagnosis to death. During her presentation, Tam explains the progression and staging of dementia, the physical causes of disease-driven behaviors, changes in perception and communication abilities, the impact of the disease on caregivers, and much more.
Understanding the Stages of Dementia
This frequently requested topic focuses on how to track the dementia process. Using her innovative Dementia Behavioral Assessment Tool, which is based in part on Reisberg’s Global Deterioration Scale, Tam explains how to match specific patient behaviors to the seven stages of dementia. This understanding of how damage to the brain at each stage impacts mental capabilities and behaviors, as well as how long each stage is estimated to last, is critical in helping medical professionals and family members prepare for the next phase of the disease.
The History of Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias
Sometimes the best way to gain an understanding of dementia is to start at the beginning. During this talk, Tam provides audience members with the history of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, explains the difference between the two, and introduces the hallmark features of any dementia. Families and professionals alike leave with an understanding of dementia and its predictable, progressive march through the brain.
Dementia and the Brain
For this presentation, Tam looks at how dementia systematically assaults the four lobes of the brain (temporal, frontal, occipital and parietal), the order in which dementia moves through the brain and how the damage in each lobe causes specific behaviors or loss of abilities. This ability to recognize the connection between deterioration in the brain’s lobes to behaviors and abilities helps family and professional caregivers better understand how far the disease has advanced and what they should anticipate next.
Death and Dying in Dementia: The Final Year. The Final Day. The Final Moment.
The body shuts itself down in an organized and orderly fashion, and knowing the signs and symptoms can make this a less frightening time for family and professional caregivers. In this unique course, Tam tracks what to expect during the final year of life and explains the most common signs of impending death in a sensitive and gentle manner as she prepares caregivers for a dementia patient’s final journey. The presentation concludes with an in-depth discussion about the distinctive type of grief experienced by caregivers after the death of a person from dementia.
Coping with Caregiver Stress
Therapists estimate dementia family caregivers suffer the highest levels of anxiety and depression of any group of caregivers. In this practical presentation, Tam covers the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and their physical impact on caregivers. She also teaches and practices with audience members a number of proven, easy techniques to control and relieve stress.
How to Communicate with Dementia Patients
In this presentation, Tam provides instruction and practice in methods that help caregivers successfully communicate in the best way possible with those who suffer from dementia. Among the topics presented are changes in the five senses and how a caregiver’s communication strategies should respond to these changes, techniques for physically approaching the dementia patient, tips for dealing with dementia people who wander or resist care, best practices for helping a person accomplish his or her activities of daily living, and more.
The A’s of Dementia
This presentation takes a detailed look at the A's of Dementia -- from anxiety, anger, aggression, apathy to amnesia, aphasia, agnosia and apraxia – in a manner that allows caregivers to connect how each “A” is a result of specific damage in the brain’s lobes. Understanding the link between the behaviors of each “A” provides a method for professionals and family caregivers to track the progression of a person’s dementia and provide useful information to medical professionals.
Identifying and Working with Combative Dementia Behaviors
Caregivers often must deal with combative, aggressive and agitated behaviors from those who suffer from dementia. During this presentation, Tam will help audience members understand how dementia brain damage can result in negative verbal and physical behaviors. She also will introduce them to a behavioral charting system and teach them how to adapt their response to negative behaviors for the best possible outcome.
Ethics and Dementia Case Management
This ethics presentation is designed for professionals and provides an overview of ethics and dementia, as well as an interactive study of eight dementia care cases. After completing the session, social workers, registered nurses, administrators and activity directors earn three hours of continuing education credit.
In addition to the topics listed above, Tam can design a program for your specific needs and industry. Contact her today to find out more about availability and fees.
"Tam is just great! So much information that I needed to help survive this horrible disease. I was greatly blessed today!"
"Tam Cummings has fantastic information! She provides intense explanations of what is going on in my loved one's brain. I have so much more capacity for compassion now that I understand dementia!"
"My experiences on the caregiving of my spouse were validated. I just wish the neurologist and doctor had explained this to me."
"You probably won't remember me, but I met you at the seminar you had a while back. I told you about my father-in-law, who had Alzheimer's. I just wanted to tell you how much it helped me in dealing with this illness, by coming and hearing you speak about the Alzheimer's and by reading the book I bought. I in turn gave my mother-in-law a copy of the literature and also gave my brother-in-law and his wife a copy. Everything happened just like you said it would. Again, thanks for all your literature and your input into this horrible disease. It really made us understand what he was going through and what to expect next. Thanks again."
"Congratulations on your presentation evaluation results!!! Thank you for your participation!
Session: Untangling Dementia
OVERALL SCORE: 99.9 % (Excellent)
The session improved my understanding of the topic: 5.0 (Perfect)
The knowledge I am leaving the session with…: 5.0 (Perfect)
I would recommend this session with others: 5.0 (Perfect)
My overall evaluation of these presenters is: 5.0 (Perfect)
This session met/exceeded my expectations: 5.0 (Perfect)
Presenter 1: Tam Cummings Score: 5.0 (Perfect)"
"Tam, YOU are truly an inspiration to me EVERYTIME I hear you speak! I have had the pleasure of hearing you speak on several occasions and each time I am blown away by your incredible passion for aging, your knowledge and your speaking abilities. I thoroughly enjoy hearing you speak! I have a master’s in education, (health and wellness promotion) and love educating people on their health. My passion is helping others and educating to empower people! Every time I have had an opportunity to hear you speak I leave thinking, 'I want to be like Tam!"
You have devoted your life and love and energy to a most frail and vulnerable segment of society - patients suffering with memory disorders and their families. Thank YOU for everything you do!
Last Friday, staff from AGE of Central Texas gathered for an incredible in-house training by Tam Cummings, author of "Untangling Dementia." Tam Cummings is a professional with over 20 years of experience and extensive training and advanced education in gerontology. She has worked directly with dementia patients and their families in a variety of settings, including serving as a program director for memory communities, as a social worker, and as a geriatric case manager. Cummings works to demystify the journey of dementia for patients, their families, and anyone touched by these devastating diseases. Over the course of this full-day session she shared her intimate and abounding knowledge of dementia. Cummings led the group on an in-depth exploration of how to deal with this disease at every level, from every perspective. Since aging is our specialty at AGE of Central Texas, and one out of six older adults have dementia, it is our job to continually learn and explore best practices for working with clients with dementia. But this training made the information so accessible, and it gave our staff a fresh look at how to share this knowledge with clients and caregivers who come in seeking guidance at AGE.