Ep. 113: Impacting Brain Health Among Your Residents

Feb 12, 2024 |

Sue Paul, who serves as the Senior Director of Well-being and Brain Health at Asbury Communities, Inc. talks about Asbury’s brain health program.

In this episode, host Jennifer Drago interviews Sue Paul, who serves as the Senior Director of Well-being and Brain Health at Asbury Communities, Inc. With over three decades of expertise, Sue is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in caring for older adults with orthopedic and neurological conditions. Today, she will be talking about Asbury’s brain health program, the different methods she utilizes to engage residents around improving their brain health including Asbury’s Kinnections program.

The Birth of Asbury's Brain Health Center
In 2020, Sue joined Asbury as a wellness director specializing in brain health and rehabilitation. Her journey began with a plan to initiate a Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson's patients at Asbury Methodist Village, evolving into establishing a comprehensive Brain Health Center of Excellence. Fueled by a resident donor's passion, she collaborated to bring the vision to life, featuring amenities like a rock-climbing wall, boxing studio, and technology gym.

[5:55] The Brain Health Center at Asbury successfully launched in 2021, leading Sue to become the Senior Director of Wellbeing and Brain Health for Asbury Communities. The brain health program, called “Kinnections,” focuses on assessing cognition on seven domains and then helping residents formulate a wellness plan to work on any lower-scoring areas. Some of these recommendations can include using movement-based interventions for neuroprotection and brain health. While features like a rock wall and a boxing studio enhance the program, they are not necessary for implementing Kinnections across all Asbury campuses.

What is the Rock Steady Boxing Program?
Sue Paul explains the Rock Steady program, a licensed initiative for boxing, and discusses the principles behind their broader brain health program. She regularly educates residents on the minimum level exercise conducive to brain health (150 minutes or more of moderate exercise per week). Asbury’s brain health program combines elements of physical intensity with novel experiences and learning to impact various cognitive domains.

Outcomes and Kinnections’ Cognitive Domains
The Kinnections program focuses on seven cognitive domains: sensory motor function, perceptual function, attention, memory, executive function, processing speed, language, and social cognition. The program aims to identify areas of opportunity for improvement, using targeted exercises and lifestyle changes based on individual cognitive assessments.

Asbury’s Philanthropy Vision
Sue emphasizes the importance of connecting residents' interests with donation opportunities, contributing to the community's vibrancy. She applauds the role of JD Shuman, President and CEO of the Asbury Foundation, in engaging residents’ passions to support brain health initiatives through philanthropy.

Evolution of Brain Programs
Sue has hired six brain health coaches with diverse backgrounds in wellness, fitness, education, and psychology to lead wellness activities on each of Asbury’s campuses. Sue emphasizes the ongoing learning and educational aspect of her role and the challenge of introducing residents to the concept of physical activity for brain health and shifting the community's culture towards embracing this and other brain health practices.

Cutting-Edge Technologies for Assessment and Improvement
Asbury recently introduced a new technology, Senso, to assess and improve balance by utilizing screens and force plates, reminiscent of games like Dance Dance Revolution, to evaluate individuals' unique strategies for maintaining balance. Sue acknowledges the potential of these technologies in identifying and addressing various physical components related to balance and highlights the ongoing learning process in mastering these tools.

Proactive Cognitive Health with Champions and Resources
Sue emphasizes the importance for senior living providers to have internal champions and resources, particularly the therapy team, to address cognitive health. She advocates for proactive assessments, highlighting the potential to delay symptom progression and empower residents to take control of their decisions for a higher quality of life.

Go to https://www.asbury.org/ to see examples of brain health at work. Learn more about the Rosborough Wellness and Center for Brain Health Excellence at https://vimeo.com/690994151.
You can connect with Sue Paul at: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/su...

About Our Guest:

Sue Paul, Senior Director of Well-being and Brain Health at Asbury Communities, is a licensed occupational therapist with over 3 decades of expertise. Her extensive background focuses on working with older adults with orthopedic and neurological conditions, specializing in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Sue is a Certified Health Coach and Functional Aging Specialist, as well as a Brain Trainer, Certified through the American Council on Exercise. She was appointed to the Virginia I. Jones Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Council by Governor Hogan in 2020 and was a long-time ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association to Maryland’s Congressional 6th District. Sue is the founder and executive director of SeniorScapes, Inc., a non-profit whose mission is to create safe, accessible, dementia-friendly public parks for older adults.

About the Show:

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