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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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