Q&A with Teri Koski: Finding Useful Resources & Support for Memory Loss & Dementia

Posted on October 13, 2022 at 7:00 am

By Crystal Miller

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, “someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. There are over 55 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2020. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.”

These statistics are sobering and point to the fact that there are many people in our community—in our corner of the world—who are affected by dementia and memory loss, including family members and caregivers who support those dealing with these challenges.

This fall, the library is collaborating with Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) to provide programs related to dementia and memory loss care. In this post, I’ve also gathered some books and resources that can provide support and insight.

ALTCEW also offers the public many resources and services for dementia and memory loss. To provide some insights, I spoke with Teri Koski, the Dementia Resource Catalyst with ALTCEW, about the resources and services they provide and about one of the upcoming programs.

Q&A with Teri Koski of ALTCEW

Crystal: What does a Dementia Resource Catalyst do?

Teri: My position is part of ALTCEW’s Planning Department, which creates the Area Plan on Aging. Our department also offers educational and outreach services, including the Matter of Balance program, which focuses on reducing falls in older adults.

My job specifically is about helping the community, working with local professionals to make Spokane a Dementia Friendly Community. About 80 percent of my job is to provide education to social workers, case managers, patient navigators, and other mid-level professionals whose job it is to support those affected by dementia. That education can be an additional tool in their toolbox when they are looking to help the person sitting in front of them. The other 20 percent of the time, I work with community task groups, organizations, and local businesses to work towards that goal of a Dementia Friendly Community.

Crystal: How long has the dementia-related support at ALTCEW been around?

Teri: As for specific dementia-related programming, this program started in 2021 with the hiring of myself and Dawn Matlock, who is our Dementia Care Specialist. Dawn’s role focuses on directly helping individuals affected by dementia via resources and support, whereas my role is more focused on providing education to those who are supporting the caregivers and individuals diagnosed.

For example, if a person calls in and says that their wife is diagnosed with dementia, and they need a support group, help filling out paperwork, help figuring out how to get in home care, or have other issues, Dawn helps them with that.

If a supervisor from a local hospital or a manager from a local bank calls ALTCEW and wants to get training on dementia for their team of workers, then I coordinate with them to get them that education.

In addition, our case managers work diligently with individuals that have dementia to ensure they get the in-home care and services that they need. This service from our case workers has been available ever since ALTCEW opened its doors. Prior to my current position, I was a case manager with ALTCEW, so I have a special place in my heart for those that work so hard to serve those that need help here in our community.

Crystal: Who does ALTCEW help?

Teri: ALTCEW helps all kinds of folks with all kinds of programs. Sometimes people assume that we help only elderly people, but that is not true. We serve individuals as young as 18.

We also have some programs that are not based on income, so I would encourage anyone in our community who is needing assistance to call us and find out if we can help. We have local people who answer our phones, so you get to talk to a live person who is here in Spokane.

Crystal: What’s the best way to contact your agency?

Teri: To contact ALTCEW, people can call 509.960.7281. We also have an online Contact Form if people prefer.

Crystal: Is your department looking for volunteers? If so, what’s involved in being a volunteer at ALTCEW?

Teri: Our agency has many volunteer opportunities, not only in our department but in several others! I would encourage anyone interested in volunteering to visit our website, www.altcew.org, and look at the opportunities available.

We need volunteers to help with dementia community workgroups, our Falls Prevention programming, our SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) Medicare assistance program, our Planning and Management Council, and other opportunities. Each volunteering experience is unique, so I recommend checking out each description online as the best way to find a good fit.

Crystal: You’re leading the upcoming session called Supporting Those with Memory Loss During the Holidays. What types of things can people expect to discover?

Teri: Holidays are a joyous time for many but can also be stressful. For someone who is experiencing memory loss, holidays can be confusing, stressful, and overwhelming.

In this class, we will be discussing some tips and ideas that can help reduce those feelings. For example, did you know that someone experiencing memory loss or dementia might find Christmas tree lights confusing and disorienting? A solution might be to limit the time when lights are on to a few hours each night. Another is use minimal lights on a small tree, rather than a large light display.

In another example, perhaps a grandparent who has always made a special dish for the holiday meal can no longer make it due to their memory loss. A different way to look at this situation might be to have a grandchild help them make the recipe at a time when they won’t feel rushed. Grandma might not be able to cook the lasagna, but maybe she can lay the noodles in the pan or pour the sauce and spread it around.

Adaptation is important with memory loss. Different ideas for situations like this will be discussed so that the holidays can be a joyful and peaceful time for all.

Crystal: Who should consider attending this informational program?

Teri: This program is for any adult who knows someone who is struggling with memory loss. That could be a child, sibling, other family member, friend, or neighbor. Dawn and I will both be leading the program, so you get the gift of two presenters rather than one!

Upcoming Library Programs

Tuesday Memory Cafés
Tuesdays, Oct–Nov, 11am–12:30pm

Learn More & Drop in

Supporting Those with Memory Loss During the Holidays
Monday, Oct 17, 6–7pm

Learn More & Register

Dementia Friends Information Session
Wednesday, Nov 2, 3–4pm

Monday, Nov 7, 6–7pm

Tuesday, Nov 15, 3–4pm

Learn More & Register

Talking About Brain Changes
Thursday, Dec 1, 3–4pm

Wednesday, Dec 7, 6-7pm

Learn More & Register

Helpful Books & Other Materials

On OverDrive & Libby

We have a collection of helpful eBooks and audiobooks available on OverDrive and with the Libby app. Be sure to peruse the booklist Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and the Brain as You Age to learn about the brain, dementias, and aging well.

On Our Shelves

You can stop by the library to find helpful books on our shelves and get assistance from library staff in finding the books you seek.

You can also place a hold online in our catalog with your library card for any of these titles:

Additional Resources

The library is in the process of creating Memory Kits that will focus on different topics and have interactive materials that caregivers can use to spend quality time with those living with dementia and memory loss. These kits will be available for checkout sometime in the first half of 2023. Keep an eye out for that announcement.  

Librarian Crystal Miller

Crystal Miller is a Business and Career Development Librarian at Spokane County Library District as well as the Community Librarian for Cheney Library, creating library programs, connecting with the Cheney community, and supporting local businesses and job seekers. In her free time, she enjoys her daily walks with her two dogs, trying out new recipes, and listening to audiobooks on the Libby app!

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