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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Best Friends Approach: The Terraces staff develops ‘knack’ for dementia care


Photo By: Colleen Ryan/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Colleen Ryan/Special To The Town Crier

Dementia-care expert David Troxel advises staff at The Terraces at Los Altos’ memory-support center, The Grove.

When The Terraces at Los Altos opens its new memory-support facility, The Grove, in July, staff will embrace residents with dementia with a philosophy that emphasizes socialization and sensory-stimulating activities.

Pioneered by author and dementia-care expert David Troxel, the “Best Friends Approach” underscores the importance of creating an empathetic, activity-rich environment. The Terraces’ parent company, the nonprofit American Baptist Homes of the West, hired Troxel as a long-term consultant to train and advise staff at The Grove.

Troxel spoke at a forum sponsored by The Terraces, “New Trends in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care: The Best Friends Approach,” May 4 at Los Altos United Methodist Church. The presentation included a panel featuring local elder-care advocates Bonnie Bollwinkel, Dr. Ronda Macchello and Karen Duncan (see article, page 34).

Troxel’s book, “A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care” (Health Professions Press, 2003), co-authored with Virginia Bell, offers both family and institutional caregivers strategies for improving communication, encouraging positive behavior and solving problems.

“There’s a lot we can do to lift people up and give quality of life, to engage the person (with dementia) ... and help them do their best,” he said.

What every person with dementia needs, Troxel said, is a “best friend, someone who has empathy and understanding and is supportive.”

Socialization is key

“Dementia,” an umbrella term for various brain disorders that impair cognitive function, is not an exact diagnosis, according to Troxel, who added that dementias have different flavors and personalities that require different medical approaches. Alzheimer’s disease, the No. 1 form of dementia, commonly manifests in memory loss, disorientation and changes in behavior.

“If I had a broken arm, you could see the cast,” he said. “But we can’t see a broken brain. So a lot of times our expectations are really out of whack.”

As caregivers for older adults diagnosed with dementia, Troxel noted, it’s important to realize that the patient doesn’t make decisions the way he or she used to and proves progressively less able to rationalize and reason.

“(Caregivers) can’t just stay the same or else we don’t get anywhere,” he said. “We have to change some of our approaches.”

While dementia medications are tolerated with mild side effects by most people, and Troxel supports their judicious use, he noted that they are akin to “jumping out of an airplane with a parachute – they slow you down, but you eventually hit the ground.”

“Socialization is the treatment for Alzheimer’s,” he said, adding that The Grove’s philosophy is that “hugs are better than drugs.”

Developing the ‘knack’

Troxel’s Best Friends Approach encourages caregivers and family members to ask themselves a question: “How can I come out at the end of this feeling good instead of feeling completely exhausted and bitter?”

To create a positive environment for dementia sufferers in memory-care programs or at home, Troxel recommended that caregivers work on the relationship, be supportive, figure out ways to understand patients’ needs and be there for them.

“What works for us, works for them – giving hugs, compliments and simple choices … things that we would want,” he said.

When training caregivers, Troxel highlights the importance of a “great old-fashioned word” – “knack.”

“It means the art of doing difficult things with ease or clever tricks and strategies – having the knack,” he said.

The “knack” requires interacting with humor, flexibility, patience and respect. Such an approach from caregivers and family members, he added, allows them to avoid becoming the “bad guy” and encourages them to let go of the little stuff and forgo arguing.

“In dementia care, we have to adjust,” he said. “We need to assess the situation and make a change.”

Troxel attributed many of the behavior problems Alzheimer’s patients exhibit to boredom, simply not having enough to do.

“I want to create a program that maybe someday I’ll be in,” he said. “I don’t think I want to play bingo every day. Why not take an online tour of the Louvre and look at the Mona Lisa?”

According to Troxel, elements of a quality dementia-care experience include purposeful chores, creative activities, animals, conversation, incorporating the life story, exercise, music, being outside, learning and growth, and laughter.

When Troxel trains staff, he role-plays with them, demonstrating how to give compliments to elevate people and make them feel good.

“Our goal at The Terraces is to know 100 things about every patient,” he said, whether it’s that they love the San Francisco Giants, sleep in their socks or once hit a hole-in-one. “When the staff knows a lot about them … it makes them feel safe, secure and valued – it makes them feel known. And everything goes better.” 

For more information on The Grove at The Terraces at Los Altos, visit www.theterracesatlosaltos.com/care_memory.php.

For more information on Troxel’s Best Friends Approach, visit bestfriendsapproach.com.

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