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Sweet N'Low

Poetic snippit from Maira Kalman's "The Principles of Uncertainty"

Photo of Molly Oberholtzer
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"Aunt Frances died last week. 86 years old. Daughter of Minnie and Louie. Frances fell in love with Eddie Lane, a brilliant songwriter and businessman who was in a wheelchair. her parents went nuts. But she didn't care. She married him and lived a charmed life. 

Near the end with Alzheimer's, she tried to pay a patient cashier at the bagel buffet with Sweet N'Low packets. Carefully counting them out. I love that story. What is the point?"

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Dementia isn't visible, and people are rarely as patient as the cashier being paid by Aunt Frances. People around caregivers, seemingly tertiary players, can greatly affect a caregiver, for better or worse. How can we make it better?

Tell us about your work experience:

I've done work as a healthcare service design research consultant. I deliver the more playful half of care as a part of a 2-person family care team. I work in design for e-learning.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Molly,

It is good to have you in the challenge.

I found an article that might interest you -

'As HSBC starts to train 12,000 staff to understand more about dementia, we take a look at how financial services are waking up to the needs of customers dealing with dementia.'

Do you think dementia training should be available to everyone? When should it start and what should it entail?

Photo of Molly Oberholtzer

Thanks Kate, I find the article and your questions very interesting. (Not to mention the unforgettable website/community at large!) The article brings up the complicated aspects of dementia, i.e. driving a car is the more common loss of autonomy that many experience as they age, but loss of financial autonomy is unique to dementia. I do think training should be available to everyone, and that challengingly symbolic, transitional loss areas such as this are especially good for focused training. If there was a handbook 'dementia 101', this would definitely be a big chapter! As for your question where should it start, well, good question. Other than subconsciously bringing awareness of the REALLY early signs into everyone's brains via media/pop culture narratives, I'd say that Stage 1 is a good place to start.

Stage 1 is called 'High-Early Stage of Dementia'. This is when executive cognitive function begins to decline. Finance management is one of these functions, as is driving, managing medications, and cooking, or other instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). (

What should it entail? Like I said, I think training should be available to everyone, but user-centric, focused (like adaptive learning) upon the different groups of adult learners, i.e. family members, financial workers, healthcare practitioners, et cetera. Adaptive learning is ideal in this case, as it allows the learning system to take input from the learner in order to adjust the materials and curriculum to the individual. (For more info check out Adaptive learning is already being used in business training, which brings us back to cashiers and bank-tellers. Other than bank tellers, what other individuals are at the frontlines of these IADLs, that have access to family members or emergency contact information, and could receive training?

My first thought is pharmacists, already at the junction of daily living and health care. They are also definitely individuals that play a role down the road, when the family member caregiver becomes the primary person picking up increasing amounts of medicine/adult diapers etc.