Making A Difference

Written by Nicole Scheidl

January 9, 2017

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Nicole Scheidl





Read the Transcript

I want to start this podcast by asking you a personal question. Do you want to make a difference? When you get to the end of your life and look back, what is going to be meaningful to you? I believe these questions are important to ask to help orient the choices we make in life and the direction we choose to go in.

In this podcast, I want to share with you an opportunity. An opportunity I’m really excited about because I have seen first-hand the difference it can make in the lives of others.

But first I want to talk to you about getting old!

The famous baseball player, Satchel Paige once said “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Close your eyes and think about that for a minute. How old would you be? If I shut my eyes, I don’t feel particularly old. I still feel like I have a lot of life left in me. Do you feel like that?

Satchel Paige played professional baseball (as a pitcher) until he was 60 years old. When most pitchers finish their careers in their thirties or early forties, he kept on pitching. He obviously aged really well. But healthy aging includes more than physical aging.

We are living longer. In North America, we have more individuals in their eighties, nineties and even older than ever before. This creates a focus on aging well. Aging well applies to both our body and our mind. It also applies to the quality of our lives. We all look for a meaningful life after we retire from our professional work. We continue to grow personally and expect to contribute to our families and communities with our love and our wisdom.

But what happens when things don’t go according to plan?

I would say one of the biggest questions of our time is: how are we going to care for those we love as they age? As we age we do expect more out of life – more meaning – more options and that expectation also extends to individuals with dementia. They expect more meaning and more options.

I think this challenge from Richard Taylor really captures it. He is the author of the book Alzheimer’ from the Inside Out,  and he asks:

There has not, nor will there ever be a moment in my life when I am not a complete Human Being. Please get this; it’s important to me, to those who love me, to those who are paid to care for me. It is important to our society. I am always me…


Hands up in the audience if you are you trying to help me be all I can be for as long as I can be? Who wants to help enable me to be as much as I want, as much as I can, as much as I should be right now, and every tomorrow until the day I die?

Who is going to answer Richard Tayor’s challenge? And what are they going to provide that is meaningful and makes a difference for him and others who are walking that journey?

I believe that Cognitive Stimulation programming is an answer.

It is not the only answer but it is a big part of helping people be all they can be for as long as possible.

Cognitive stimulation is an effective non-drug therapy that should be part of the treatment plan of every person who suffers from dementia. It is a very human to human approach that touches an individual not only in their head but also in their heart. As I discussed in the previous podcasts, cognitive stimulation therapy is effective in improving quality of life. It has over twenty-five years of evidence-based findings demonstrating its’ effect. It is an important part of the solution.

Just in case this is your first introduction to me, my name is Nicole Scheidl and I’m the CEO of Fit Minds. We have hundreds of program partners and almost seven years of program development under our belts. Fit Minds has produced thousands of pieces of programming. We also benefit from a very active community of program partners giving us direct feedback. So our programming continues to evolve and develop. I can confidently say that we are leaders in personalized cognitive stimulation programming.

Karen’s Story

I wanted to share with you a story about Karen and a man we will call George.  Karen was an activity director at a retirement home in Ottawa, Ontario. She was pretty busy and was responsible for lots of residents. George lived with his wife in the retirement residence. He was retired from his medical profession and had just received a dementia diagnosis. As you can imagine that diagnosis was devastating. He withdrew into himself and into his room. He refused to come out and participate in community activities and became very isolated. This was very distressing for his wife.

So Karen really wanted to help George. She started using our program with him and the results were impressive:

I have completed 5 sessions with […] and I have already noticed a HUGE improvement in both his cognitive skills and eagerness to participate

She worked with him three times a week and soon he was participating in community activities.

His wife […], has thanked me because she sees him getting out of his room more and sleeping less. I am so excited because he is a totally different man, and his self esteem is improving session by session. All in all, I am so excited about this program and so very happy I decided to do it.    – Karen

Karen made such a difference in the lives of this couple. She gave George and his wife an opportunity to continue to interact in their community. They could continue to create memories.

Mary Ann’s Story

Mary Ann is another coach who is making an impact with our program. She works with Retire-at-Home Calgary, a home care company in Calgary, Alberta. The woman (we’ll call her Corinne) was very isolated and lonely. She would spend a lot of her days sleeping. When Mary Anne would speak with her she would talk about the same thing using the same sentences over and over. Her family was very discouraged and concerned.

Mary Ann started the Fit Minds program with her. Within a few weeks she reported:

“Corinne’s mind has opened up a bit more! Simply splendid to see and for her to be able to share precious memories.  Also to see her face light up in recalling them.  To see her smile, laugh and giggle is such a precious experience.  Corinne has so much joy as she shares her stories with me.  She may even say “Oh… I had forgotten about that!” and then laughs about it. She is enjoying herself.”

Mary Ann was able to track Corinne’s progress in the system and create session plans that really helped her come out of herself. Mary Ann found that Corinne was now interacting with the other people in her residence. She was talking and smiling. Her world had opened up!

What a wonderful gift!

Kerry’s Story

Finally, I want to share with you Kerry’s story.. Kerry is a recreational therapist working for Alberta Health Services. She wrote to let us know about the impact Fit Minds’ programming is having on the quality of life and the cognitive abilities of her residents. Kerry is going to be presenting her experience with Fit Minds programming at the National conference for Recreational Therapists this year.

After just 8 weeks using the program she saw an improvement in the mini-mental status exam (MMSE) scores and an increase in quality of life scores (on average 3.9 points) among her residents. These are pretty exciting results. I’m really excited by the fact that quality of life scores improved.

Kerry is a big believer in cognitive stimulation therapy and in her words: “your program makes it so easy to facilitate.”

You can have this kind of impact on people!

What Background is Required

Some of you have been asking questions about the background and abilities needed to provide a cognitive stimulation program. I think the most important element, even before education, is to have the right kind of heart. Since this is really a human–to-human therapy the individual who provides it must enjoy the people they are working with. You must be able to connect … so a recreational therapist, or speech or occupational therapist or teacher, or psychologist or having a social work background is a perfect fit for this course.

We give you the tools – you make the magic happen.

The Big Picture

But stepping back to look at the big picture. There are over 46 million people suffering from dementia worldwide. That number is expected to double in the next 25 years. This is a BIG problem. It needs lots of people stepping up to the plate to have any hope of making a difference.

I need to ask you – do you feel called to be one of these people?

Now if you are listening to this podcast it is likely you find yourself in one of these categories:

  • you are already working with seniors and want to offer them more; or,
  • you already have a senior care business and you are looking for ways to stand out from your competition; or
  • you are thinking about starting a senior care business and are thinking about the kind of service offering you want to have;

but above all you are at a point in your life where you want to make a difference. You are looking for meaningful work where you can make a real difference.

We are not going to solve the loneliness or isolation of dementia with machines or pills. We are going to solve it with people. At the end of the day people need people….they need you.

Where Are You At?

So in the next few days I’m going to send you some more information about the program we are offering. I hope you really take some time to consider if we are the right fit.

If you care about seniors and want to make a difference, I can tell you this program is for you. If you want to add a service offering to your existing business, this program is for you. If you want to start a senior service business, this program is for you.

But … and this is where the ‘but’ comes in. I like to give a lot of attention to my training group and it’s really important that we start together…so when I open registration for the Fit Minds certification program … which we will do in a few days it will be open for only a few days … make sure you are ready to take action. Because when I close the course I am going to close the course and it will be awhile before we open it again.

Thanks for taking the time to listen and finally I want to finish with a little visualization exercise. Think about where you are right now and where you want to be in a year. What steps are you going to take to get there? Drop me an email and let me know what you are thinking. And until next time – Take Care.


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