BBC: Understanding the brain on dance

Dance is one of the therapies we use at Elderhaven Adult Day Health Center. Creative movement is such an important activity for all of us. Here’s an article talking about how it impacts our brains.

How does the brain perceive and interpret beautiful movement?

This is one of the key questions being asked by scientists at Bangor University who have enlisted the help of a professional dancer in their quest to better understand how our brains process movement and how we learn by observation.

Dr Emily Cross’ research focuses on the relatively new field of science called neuroaesthetics which looks at how the brain perceives artistic endeavours.

Contemporary dancer Riley Watts spent a day at the university being poked and prodded by the school’s researchers.

First he was filmed dancing in a variety of settings, including a 3D motion-capture studio. He then underwent a functional MRI brain scan while simultaneously watching videos of himself dancing.


Read more at the BBC’s website. 

Legendary University of Texas coach diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

Darrell Royal’s wife speaks about coach’s dementia, announces fund for Alzheimer’s research

By Ricardo Gándara


Updated: 5:12 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

In the first public acknowledgment that legendary former University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal has been living with dementia for several years, his wife, Edith, told members of a state legislative committee Tuesday of the emotional and physical toll.

“Every day since Darrell’s diagnosis of dementia, I deal with the stress of managing everything without my best friend at my side helping me make decisions,” Edith Royal said while testifying during a hearing of the interim joint House committee studying Alzheimer’s disease.

With Darrell Royal, 87, by her side, and with support from friends including cyclist Lance Armstrong and actor Matthew McConaughey, Edith Royal also announced the creation of the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease .

Darrell Royal’s comment was brief: “Thank you very much,” he told the committee. “I feel like I’m home.”

The popular coach posted a record of 167-47-5 from 1957 to 1976 at Texas, won three national championships and 11 Southwest Conference titles, and never had a losing season .

State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, was overcome with emotion at seeing the Royals in the Senate chamber. Calling Royal his personal hero, Lucio said: “Coach came to Texas to teach Texas men how to be men. He did that.”



Caregiver Resources: The Short List

Here’s our shortlist of FREE caregiver resources. Let us know if we’re missing another FREE resource for Caregiver in Central Texas. 
  •  AGE Blog: It’s Austin Groups for the Elderly’s own blog! We have articles, links, events, and more on all issues relating to seniors and caregiving. Best of all, it’s written for you! Have a story idea? Visit our blog
  • Caregiver U: FREE classes for families caring for an older loved one! Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a series of classes designed to empower family caregivers of older adults to take better care of themselves.    Classes are FREE, and are offered across the Central Texas region throughout 2011 and 2012. To find the next class, visit our website: 
  • provides an extensive listing of free online videos for caregivers.  Topics include dementia care, self-care for the caregiver, demonstrations of physical care techniques, legal and financial issues, and the “Ask the Geriatrician” series.  Visit their website at:
  •  Caregiver Education over the Telephone: The Caregiver Teleconnection is a free and confidential program that connects caregivers and family members to information and support through the telephone .The Caregiver Teleconnection provides learning sessions on a variety of useful topics, hosted over the phone by professional facilitators and experts. For more information, visit caregiverteleconnection.orgor call 1-866-390-6491.
  • Dr. Mara Karpel & Your Golden Years: Dr. Mara and Your Golden Years is a radio program dedicated to enjoying your life after 50! Dr. Karpel will share her “glass is half full” mentality to help bring joy to your life and that of your parents. With unique musical personalities from Austin joining her each week, Dr. Karpel provides a motivational hour each Sunday evening before the busy week begins. Check it out: Sundays at 7pm on Talk 1370AM & 96.3FM



New Connections continues to lead in Alzheimer’s therapy, plans expansion with AGE


Austin,Texas—New Connections, an early intervention program for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, joined the 25-year-old senior service organization Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE). Together, the agencies plan to bring innovative services to helpCentral Texas families coping with Alzheimer’s disease.


 New Connections offers information, activities, and support for people experiencing memory impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. By focusing on brain-fitness and cognitive stimulation, the program follows evidence-based methods shown to maintain brain function and prevent memory-loss. The pioneering program is the only one of its kind in the community and joins AGE’s programs that provide support for families caring for older adults, including Elderhaven Adult Day Health Centers, the Health Equipment Lending Program, and the Caregiver Resource Center. Both AGE and New Connections are funded by the St. David’s Foundation, who helped make the collaboration possible.


Debbie Wilder, New Connections founder, many opportunities in the collaboration. “This partnership will allow New Connections to grow and expand with the ability to serve more people with early memory loss” says Wilder, “AGE has a proven track record in Austin for meeting the needs of families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias.”


There are an estimated 5.3 million Americans who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, and for patients in the early stages of the disease, there is a shortage of services. Further, health insurance benefits may not cover intervention programs for early-memory loss patients or support services for their families. New Connections is a free resource for families and is considered an essential resource by local physicians.


St. David’s Foundation invests in a healthy community through funding, hard work, and initiatives to better care for the under served and uninsured. As a joint owner of St. David’s Health Care, the Foundation achieves its goals by investing the proceeds from the hospitals back in the Central Texas community. From its beginning in 1924, St. David’s HealthCare has now grown to include six hospitals, four surgery centers, and four urgent care clinics reaching from Georgetown to Kyle. To learn more visit:


AGE (Austin Groups for the Elderly) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has been serving Austin’s elderly, their families, and caregivers since 1986.  Our programs include the Health Equipment Lending Program, ElderhavenAdultDayHealthCentersof Central Texas, The CaregiversResourceCenter, New Connections, AustinComputerLearningCenter, and the HistoricAGEBuilding. Visit our website at


Free Event for Caregivers on Feb 25: Care Options for Family Caregivers

There often comes a time when a senior may need more care than a family member can personally provide. “Care Options for Family Caregivers” event will explain the many care options, including adult day care programs, in-home care, or residential care facilities.

Care Options for Family Caregivers

Saturday, February 25


This seminar will take place in the Dining Room of the historic AGE building at 3710 Cedar Street, which is just north of the UT campus. Seating space is limited so please RSVP as soon as possible by email to Bruce Kravitz at or (512) 451-4611.AGE will also provide free respite care at our Elderhaven adult day program just down the hall from the Dining Room.  If you are interested in requesting respite care, please call Carla at (512) 458-6305 no later than February 22.

Click here to download the flyer: Feb 24 Seminar Flyer


Mark Your Calendar!   

Save the date for our next seminar. For more information or to register, contact Bruce at or 512-451-4611.

  •  April 28: Emotional Survival for Family Caregivers
  •  July 14: Practical Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
  •  October 6: Health Insurance Options for Seniors
  • November 3: Striking a Balance conference for caregivers


Report: Keeping brain sharp may ward off Alzheimer’s protein

CHICAGO (Reuters) – People who challenge their brains throughout their lifetimes — through reading, writing and playing games — are less likely to develop protein deposits in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, researchers said on Monday.

Prior studies have suggested that people who are well educated and stay mentally active build up brain reserves that allow them to stay sharp even if deposits of the destructive protein called beta amyloid form in the brain.

But the latest study, based on brain-imaging research, suggests that people who stay mentally engaged beginning in childhood and remain so throughout their lives actually develop fewer amyloid plaques.

“We’re not talking about the brain’s response to amyloid. We’re talking about the actual accumulation of amyloid,” Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley, whose study appears in the Archives of Neurology, said in an interview. “It’s a brand new finding.”

While small, the study also shows that starting brain-stimulating activities early enough might offer a way to prevent Alzheimer’s-related plaques from building up in the brain.

Read the full article here.



Donation drive hopes to help over 170 seniors

Austin, Texas—Over 170 low-income seniors and people with disabilities are waiting for assistance to receive mobility equipment, like wheelchairs, walkers, or shower chairs. The nonprofit organization providing assistance is reaching out to the community for help through a donation drive.

AGE, a senior service organization, collects medical mobility equipment, like wheelchairs, walkers, and shower chairs, for low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Central Texas. In 2011, the HELP (Health Equipment Lending Program) gave over 2500 items to Central Texans, for free, to help them stay safe in the community.

In the last few months, donations have slowed down, leaving 172 low-income seniors languishing on the waiting list. Without these items, seniors may not be able to leave their home, go grocery shopping, and may be at risk for falling in their homes.

The most needed items include: Walkers with seats (cost $100-$200). Wheelchairs (cost $300-$600), Shower chairs (cost $40),  and Hand-held showerheads (cost $20).

The nonprofit is hosting a month –long donation drive in February, and calling on the community to collect unneeded items to give to older adults in their community. HELP volunteer Jayne Schurick adds “it’s great that this medical and mobility equipment, donated by local folks, will be put to good use, helping those who need it most. Why send a good item like a walker to the landfill, when there are people here who need it?”

Community members can bring donations to the Historic AGE Building, or to the annual Clear Your Clutter event at Bethany United Methodist Church on January 28th. All donations are tax-deductible and will make the community safer for seniors.

Video and Photo opportunities available at events:

  • Saturday, January 29: Clear Your Clutter Day

10am-2pm at Bethany United Methodist (10010 Anderson Mill Road, Austin)

Got lots of clutter? HELP will be collecting mobility assistance devices (wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, shower chairs, etc.) at NAPO-Austin’s 6th annual Clear Your Clutter Day.  Please visit or for more info!

  • Thursday February 2: H.E.L.P for Seniors Month Proclamation

5:30pm at Austin City Hall (301 W. Second Street, Austin, TX)

Join us for the official kick-off event for HELP for Seniors Month at proclamation by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Saturdays in February: Saturday donation drive

10am-1pm at the Historic AGE Building (3710 Cedar Street)

Bring by your gently used wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs, and other mobility assistance items. All donations are tax-deductible.

  •  Monday February 20: Little Helping Hands volunteer opportunity

10am-1pm at the Historic AGE Building (3710 Cedar Street)

Children of all ages can join us for a creative art project designed to brighten up a senior’s day. Visit Little Helping Hands website to sign up:

CONTACT:  Nicole Sarkar

Development Director

Office: 512.451.4611 ext. 223

AGE (Austin Groups for the Elderly) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has been serving Austin’s elderly, their families, and caregivers since 1986.  Our programs include the Health Equipment Lending Program, Elderhaven Adult Day Health Centers of Central Texas, The Caregivers Resource Center, New Connections, Austin Computer Learning Center, and the Historic AGE Building. Visit our website at

Advocates: More gay-friendly senior housing needed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – At age 62, Donald Carter knows his arthritis and other age-related infirmities will not allow him to live indefinitely in his third-floor walkup apartment in Philadelphia.

But as a low-income renter, Carter has limited options. And as a gay black man, he’s concerned his choice of senior living facilities might be narrowed further by the possibility of intolerant residents or staff members.

“The system as it stands is not very accommodating,” Carter said. “I don’t really want to see any kind of negative attitude or lack of service because anyone … is gay or lesbian.”

Experts say many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors fear discrimination, disrespect or worse by health care workers and residents of elder housing facilities — ultimately leading many to go back into the closet after years of being open about their sexual orientation.

That anxiety takes on new significance as the first of the 77 million baby boomers turns 65 this year. At least 1.5 million seniors are gay, a number expected to double by 2030, according to SAGE, the New York-based group Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders.

Recognizing the need, developers in Philadelphia have secured a site and initial funding for what would be one of the nation’s few GLBT-friendly affordable housing facilities. They hope to break ground on a 52-unit, $17 million building in 2013.

Anti-discrimination laws prohibit gay-only housing, but projects can be made GLBT-friendly through marketing and location. And while private retirement facilities targeted at the gay community exist, such residences are often out of reach for all but the wealthiest seniors.

Census figures released last week indicate about 49 percent of Americans over 65 could be considered poor or low-income.

Gays are also less likely to have biological family to help out with informal caregiving, either through estrangement or being childless, making them more dependent on outside services. And that makes them more vulnerable, SAGE executive director Michael Adams said.



Local News: Two UT researchers using worms in personal quest for Alzheimer’s treatment

By Mary Ann Roser



University of Texas researchers Adela Ben-Yakar and Jon Pierce-Shimomura are on a mission. It’s professional, personal and not conducive to patience.

Armed with a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for “exceptionally innovative” research projects that can shift science in new directions, the two colleagues are devoting a large part of their professional lives to collaborating on new drug therapies for Alzheimer’s disease that might also slow down the aging process. It’s personal because Ben-Yakar’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and is deteriorating. Pierce-Shimomura’s 10-year-old son has Down syndrome, which causes premature aging and a high risk of developing memory-stealing Alzheimer’s.

“I got into this because of him,” said Pierce-Shimomura, an assistant professor in neurobiology.

Ben-Yakar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, echoes that sentiment. “I’m losing her every day,” she said of her 78-year-old mother.

Neither has the time to be patient. Perhaps that is why they have turned to roundworms, rather than the traditional lab mice, for their drug studies.


Read more here at the

Striking a Balance Conference: 10 years of Caring for Caregivers!

On behalf of AGE and our partner the Area Agency on Aging, I’d like to thank all of you that recently attended our 10th annual “Striking A Balance” caregivers conference.

Each September, the Striking a Balance Caregiver’s Conference brings information, support, and resources to families caring for an older loved one. Over 150 caregivers attended this year’s conference, the 10th anniversary of this collaboration between AGE (Austin Groups for the Elderly) and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area. Striking a Balance combines the best of informational conferences, with practical information and emotional support for family caregivers. Family caregivers often feel isolated, stressed, and overwhelmed. The Striking a Balance event reaches out to provide them a safe place to learn, engage, and grow.

Our keynote speaker, James Huysman, PsyD, who educated, entertained, and encouraged us as we travel down the long and sometimes difficult path as caregivers. All attendees also received a free copy of his book “Voices of Caregiving”.

Here are some notes from Dr. Jaime’s presentation:

• Caregiving is a team sport. Just as winning a football game takes the efforts of all 11 players on the field, caregiving requires the time, talent, and resources of many players.

• Caregivers are a family’s “first responders.”

• Sometimes a caregiver’s unrealistic expectations contribute to caregiver burnout. Often, caregivers, expect that their involvement will have a positive effect on the health and happiness of their loved one. This is not always realistic.

Check out The 10 Commitments of Caregiving

• For more from Dr. Jaime, check out his website:

• Buy his book “Voices of Caregiving” from LaChance Publishing. 

After lunch, participants could choose to listen to speakers on topics such as caring for a person with dementia, sources of long term care funding, or watch hands-on demonstrations of mobility aids. A variety of vendors and sponsors also provided useful information and handout materials at their tables throughout the conference.

Here are some additional resources from our workshop presenters:

Mary Koffend, Accountable Aging Care Management, is a specialist in eldercare services and government-funded programs. Having served elder and disabled clients for more than thirty years with the Social Security Administration (SSA) throughout Texas, including being responsible for Houston’s largest and most complex SSA client service operation, and then managing the Medicaid provider services programs for the State of Texas, Mary is in a unique position to now help Accountable Aging Care Management clients deal with two of the biggest challenges related to aging: navigating the benefits maze and understanding healthcare options.

Tam Cummings, M.S., Gerontologist, received her Master of Science in Gerontology from Baylor University. Her post-graduate studies are in Educational Psychology at Baylor and her doctoral studies are in the School of Rural Public Health at the Texas A&M University. Tam is the author of A Guide to Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. She is also completing the book A Care Giver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She is an expert at teaching families, social workers, registered nurses and professional caregivers the skills needed to navigate the disease process with individuals. She is available for public or private speaking engagements and is frequently sought after to teach families and caregivers about dementia and providing care in the home.

Tam Cummings History of Dementia

Tam Cummings Physio-Brain

Tam Cummings Four A’s

Tam Cummings 30 Activities

Tyler Sutliff, The Home Option. After a 10 year career in financial service, Tyler founded The Home Option after personal experience with his own grandparents.  The Home Option is a licensed personal assistance service through the Texas Department of Aging and Disability.    Since its beginning in October of 2008,  The Home Option has become one of the largest and most respected providers of non-medical home care in Central Texas.

Long Term Care Insurance

Shella Bycura, RN, ResCare HomeCare in Austin and San Antonio. Shelly has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years and is also a Certified Geriatric Care Manager.  Her experience has been in the hospital, home health, hospice, Assisted Living, Independent Living, and community settings. Home safety and correct use of mobility aids will insure their “independent” status is maintained and they can successfully age at home.

It was great to see so many new faces as well as returning friends. I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming educational events which are listed in this newsletter. For those that missed the conference, we have included links to some of the materials that were presented at the conference. Thank you for attending, supporting us, and spreading the word about AGE and our programs. 

Want more resources? Check out our suggestions below:

The National Family Caregivers Association also lists a good collection of websites of interest to family caregivers:

Agencies and Organizations:
Following are agencies and organizations that are valuable resources for you to receive information, support and assistance – whether you are a family caregiver, a professional caregiver, or looking for additional information on issues related to family caregiving.