Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. So, let’s get to it. In a few sentences tell us who you are and what you do?

Denise Medved: www.agelessgrace.com

I’m Denise Medved, and I’m the creator and founder of a neuroscience based program called Ageless Grace Brain Health. And we’re in 50 States in the United States and we’re in 29 other countries. And we train individuals, we train professionals in hospitals and other types of organizations, and we train staff who work for primarily CCRCs, continual care residential or retirement communities. And we train them in this program, which activates all five primary brain functions of strategic planning, memory and recall, analytical thinking, creativity and imagination and kinesthetic learning so that people can improve their brain health and the resilience of their brain, they can maintain their cognitive function and they can delay cognitive decline.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. You have that down to a science. And that’s a lot of big words, say kinesthetic [inaudible 00:01:30].

Denise Medved:

Kinesthetic learning.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re good, you’re good because you’re saying it and I’m going, “[Inaudible 00:01:37].” So, I probably need all five of those right now.

            So, tell me this, let me ask you a sidebar question about that. Can individuals access this program, or must you be part of an organization or community to access?

Denise Medved:

Absolutely individuals can take this. We have many people who take the training for themselves, we also have a seminar that’s four hours long, a training that’s 14 hours long and you’re certified to teach it or share it somewhere else. And we also work with people who want to just work with a family member, for example, a home caregiver, a personal family member caregiver. We train lots of nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, doctors, caregivers, CNAs, activities directors, you name it, recreational therapist.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Wow. So, let’s say you’re a home care agency and you want to have some of your CNAs or maybe your director of nursing and then some of your CNAs, a select number, really trained well in this, then you can sign up a few CNAs to have this additional training and that’s something you could market as a feature of your home care agency?

Denise Medved:

Absolutely. It’s a wonderful marketing tool to say that you’re on the cutting edge of neuroscience and you take care of your clients or residents by providing a brain health program for them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice, very nice.

Denise Medved:

It’s also simple and fun, that’s the other thing. We use a lot of big words because it’s a neuroscience based program, but it’s actually very simple and very easy, it was designed so that anyone can do it and anyone can teach it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So nice, that’s great. Yes, I would say fun is very helpful.

Denise Medved:

Lots of laughter going on.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh, good. Awesome. Okay. So, well, tell us what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Denise Medved:

Well, this program, as I said, is designed to stimulate neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain and the central nervous system to actually change its form and function specifically when it’s stimulated by physical movement. Neuroscientists have now learned that the brain’s primary purpose is to control movement of the body, and they’ve also learned that the best exercise for the brain is not crossword puzzles, word games, playing bridge, but in fact it is physical exercise. So, that being said, what is so powerful is to watch your students who are primarily singers, but it’s for anyone with a brain, watch your students change, watch them get more quick and agile in their brain and in their thinking, watch them learn how to respond, react, and recover physically and mentally so that they can avoid trauma, injury falls, those kinds of things, because the brain has to be working quickly and communicating with the body.

            And it’s pretty obvious, I mean, sometimes after one class of the program, the residents, for example, or the clients will say, “Wow, I feel so much better. I feel more wide awake,” or they’ll say, “Gee, I realized that I’m thinking more quickly or that my body’s moving better,” because it is a brain and body program and that’s rewarding to see changes happen.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. That’s awesome. I can see so many uses for this. Even for me, I probably could use a little [inaudible 00:05:12]. One of the other days somebody put up a little video, one of my clients and they said, “If you want to grow a brain cell today or simulate your brain today, put your pants on not with the leg you normally put them on, start with the other leg and see how hard that is.”

Denise Medved:

That’s right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And this morning I’m getting dressed, so I’m thinking, I didn’t do it because I had already got my pants on, but I thought, “I should have tried that, I could have grown another brain cell today.”

Denise Medved:

Absolutely. Ageless Grace is not the only thing that can change your brain. There are millions of things that can do that. However, you have to know what they are, you have to do them and you have to choose to incorporate them into your daily activities. So, what Ageless Grace is, is we’ve brought all this information together from neuroscientists and doctors and such facilities as Harvard Medical School and Philadelphia full of school of sciences, I mean, all these different places, we’ve put it into one simple program. And like I said, the certification is only 14 hours, but the bottom line is the way you change your brain is by doing something physical that is new to you or that you do in a different way. So, exactly, putting your pants on and starting with the opposite leg. And that sounds so easy, and you think, “Well, how can that make a difference?” But surprisingly, it’s not as easy as it sounds, your brain immediately goes, “What? What are we doing? That’s not how we normally do it. I’m going to have to learn something new.” So it fires neurons, which are brain cells.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. Well, I would imagine that in your career, in your lifetime, professionally or personally, there have been people or organizations that have really meant a lot to you, there have been mentors or inspirations. Who would you like to talk about?

Denise Medved:

Well, first let me mention Dr. Sarah McKay at the Neuroscience Academy in Sydney, Australia. I did graduate from her Academy. She’s one of the leading neuroscientists in the world today and she’s written several books, including a fairly recent book on the women’s brain, very interesting. And she has done such wonderful work at providing programs and training online so that people who work in the care industry, work with aging brains, for example, work with special needs like Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s, dementia of various kinds can get a lay language course and understanding of neuroscience and how it works rather than go to Oxford like Dr. McKay did and get a PhD in neuroscience. So, it’s something that you can do in a matter of months with an online training and really learn, like I say, simple language to understand how does this work and why does it work and what science is it based on?

            But then there’ve been many places and many organizations that have inspired me. I have been a speaker for and trained by such organizations as Harvard Medical School and Functional Aging Institute and AGEucate and International Council on Active Aging, the councils on aging in many states, most states have a council on aging. There are wonderful organizations out there that have really meant a lot to me in my own education and understanding and in supporting what it is we do and are attempting to do by bringing Ageless Grace to the world and helping change the model of aging.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is so nice. You’re obviously involved in and speaking with some very important organizations across the country and across the world, and that’s so nice to hear, and I agree, all of these places do such good things for us, and it’s nice that you brought everything kind of together and in lay person’s terms, I will say, that we can all understand and learn from. So, that’s great.

            We’ll talk about online marketing a little bit. So, the last year has put a damper on travel, it’s put a damper on in-person speaking and networking, and I would imagine obviously you’ve probably been online for a long time, so this has probably always been a big part of what you do. How do you feel about online marketing and what has been your experience? Is this pretty much the way people find you?

Denise Medved:

Well, actually marketing Ageless Grace through our website and through social media, like certain Facebook pages, like we have one called Ageless Grace Brain Health, it’s open to anyone who might be interested in a healthier, sharper brain. And then we have various ones for our educators that are trained all over the world, those type of things. So, we have always been internet based, however, our training was being done pre-March of 2020, in person. We would go to a CCRC for example, and maybe train 15 of their staff. We would go to a specific university or hospital and train 20, 30 people in the program. And so, obviously that has all stopped and changed, and we used our brains and fired a lot of neurons, and we put all of our training modules, rewrote everything and redid everything so that it can be done online, and we’ve been doing Zoom trainings and Zoom seminars and Zoom workshops, even the first eight weeks of the pandemic.

            As a gift, I went on to Ageless Grace Brain Health Facebook page, and I did eight weeks of daily classes of Ageless Grace that we recorded so that they would be stored there and people could access them and use them to help them through this pandemic. At the time, I thought eight weeks was a lot of classes. Now, since this has gone on more than a year, I’m beginning to think I need to go back on and do a few more classes.

            But we have a lot of information on our website that’s accessible to anyone, video clips, handouts, free gifts, all kinds of things about aging. And you can access that at agelessgrace.com or on our Ageless Grace Brain Health Facebook page. However, what we’ve really learned is how to market through social media and how to use the internet and how to use platforms like Zoom, Skype, Facebook Live, WhatsApp. There’s so many different kinds of things, even your messenger on your cell phone has a video capability, so you can actually work with a client or work one-on-one with three or four people, that kind of thing.

            So, don’t be afraid of it is what I would say. I am not a technology wiz, I am not an internet wiz, I went on and I took all the free Zoom trainings that they have, how to use Zoom, they’re not long, the modules are like an hour or 40 minutes, and I really studied and learned how to use it, and then I bought the one that’s right for me, because there’s a free Zoom that anyone can use up to, I think, 20 people and up to 40 minutes long, so it’s great to access that and use it.

            But I think what’s more impressive is that there are hundreds of our trained Ageless Grace educators who are offering classes online now. So, we even went on Zoom and trained our educators and our trainers how do you use Zoom. And that’s the platform we chose, but other countries, other places might have access to a different platform that works better for them.

            But don’t be afraid of it. I mean, it’s easy to learn. If I can learn it, anybody can, and you can reward yourself by reminding yourself that by learning something new, which this is actually quite physical, and you can change your own brain by learning something new, so there’s an added bonus to trying something. But our educators have been going on and doing classes, both live and recorded, for CCRC, senior centers, hospital clinics, wellness centers. It’s been remarkable and rewarding that people have something fun and lighthearted to do that is movement oriented and that helps their brain at the same time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. I’m glad you guys, and this has been an overused cliche now, but you were able to pivot-

Denise Medved:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And use Zoom or whatever platforms to your advantage. I’ve heard from others that had to transition this way, that they almost increased their enrollment because people didn’t have to travel or they could watch the videos on their own time. So, they were able to even increase the ability for additional students or additional time and other venues and other trainings. But it was easier for folks-

Denise Medved:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Especially for big conferences or trainings that you had to maybe fly somewhere and go to a two to three-day conference, which isn’t necessarily the way you guys do it, but that helped. It helped having everything online and recorded, and you could work through the modules at your own pace, that really helped them increase enrollment because it was easier for folks, easier on their travel budget, easier on everything.

Denise Medved:

Absolutely. I mean, there are silver linings to this pandemic. It’s a horrible thing and it has affected all of us in the business of working with mature adults, older adults. But at the same time, my trainers are so excited they’ll say, “Today, I had someone from Germany on my Zoom training and I had someone from Canada and I had someone from South Florida and I’m in Boston.” So, it’s fascinating to see how accessible we have made everything. Adversity and challenge has opened us up to a new way of doing things that is actually allowing more people to access information that would be helpful to them and a better quality of life.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I totally agree. There definitely are silver linings in all of this, and we’ve learned a lot, and I think even as an industry, senior care, home care, whether it’s housing or whatever it is, I think we’ve all learned so much from this about our aging adults. And my hope is that, there’s so many people out there, we’ve talked about all the heroes and all the caregivers and all the paid caregivers and the family caregivers and everybody who has done the absolute best they could possibly do considering the circumstances, and I think that we’ll see a few positive changes come out of this.

Denise Medved:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

For the lives of our seniors, learning what works and what doesn’t work. I mean, it’s been a complete learning situation for almost everybody in this industry.

Denise Medved:

Absolutely. It’s been wonderful for our seniors too, because so many of them learned how to use Zoom or some other online platform to communicate with their families and their grandchildren and their adult children. And so, because of that, they’re now able to access things like the Pioneer Network did their conference online, and now they’re doing symposiums online about changing the quality of life and the culture of retirement communities, for example, and they’re able to access things like Ageless Grace and like your interviews. And before, I think, there weren’t nearly as many seniors who felt confident and conversant with this type of technology and now they’re wizzes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s amazing how resilient and how able… We never would have thought of introducing Zoom on a cell phone to our grandma before, but now it’s like, “Absolutely, we’re going to show her how to use this,” or FaceTime or whatever it is. So, I think a lot of great things have come of it. And I’m glad that now we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, fingers crossed everybody getting taken care of and hopefully we’ll see our lives getting a little bit back to normal, it might be a little different, but it’s all kind of plateauing, I hope, so.

Denise Medved:

Another thing I would say to everybody is don’t underestimate your senior clients or residents. I was just on a program the other day and three of the people on the program were over 90 years old and they were typing into the chat room and raising their hand, and they were just as good on Zoom as anybody else who was on there. So, don’t underestimate what they might be able to do if you provide them with online programs.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I totally agree. And I think that generation has seen a lot more hard times than some of us have. And so, they are way tougher and way more resilient than we will ever be because they have been through a lot more than we have.

Denise Medved:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, that’s awesome. So tell me, what piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Denise Medved:

Sort of a reiteration of what I’ve said, in that don’t be afraid of technology for yourself and your company and don’t be afraid to invite your mature senior adults to participate in things that you might not normally do. They are very, very willing to try something new, to learn something new, and as I said, many of them have already learned how to do things like Zoom, and so you have a wonderful tool there at your disposable use to be able to communicate with them, to provide them education, to give them stimulation, to help them with isolation, fear, anxiety, all those types of things.

            The Ageless Grace program specifically is working with the brain, so we might forget that the brain produces hormones and proteins like endorphins and serotonin and melatonin and things that are mood enhancers, things that help us with isolation, anxiety, loneliness, those types of things, which have really risen to the fore during this pandemic.

            So, one of the things that’s also really important is to know your clients, your residents, whoever it is, call them by name, know something about them. I always advise that when we teach our classes, when we do our trainings, when we offer seminars, we always make a point of spending the first half hour getting to know who is in the room. That’s when we did it in person. And I do the same thing on Zoom. “Who’s in this Zoom room with me? Tell me, where are you from? Where did you grow up?” I don’t just want to know your name because that’s really important to being able to communicate and connect with them and provide that connection that they need.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Very nice. Yes, here is a whole lifetime of experience behind that senior’s name and their face and their persona that is presenting to you right now. There’s an entire book that has been written that is their life, and I know they don’t expect you to know everything about them, but to relate to them and know something a little personal about them, how many kids they had, how many grandchildren they have, where they grew up, something like that makes them feel even more at home and makes them feel appreciated and respected. And it’s all about that dignity and respect that we should have for them, and not just a room number, but knowing that they had a life before now and what that was like. So, I think that’s really, really important. Yeah, absolutely.

            All right, last question. It’s supposed to be my fun one. Some people have a hard time with this one. When you have a win in life or business how do you like to celebrate?

Denise Medved:

I like to celebrate by incorporating the people that made it happen. I don’t want to just make an announcement. I don’t want to raise an award or say, “Oh, we reached this goal or we did this.” I like to involve who helped make that happen. Was it the residents of the community? Was it the nursing staff? Was it the trainers and educators who work and present Ageless Grace? Was it my own team that makes Ageless Grace happen on a daily basis? We have seven people that keep this company out there, and without them we wouldn’t even be in existence. This is not something I did alone. I might be the creator and founder, but now I sit back and watch what everybody does. And I think appreciating and incorporating, whether it’s a lunch, whether it’s sending flowers to someone, whether it’s giving gifts, sending something through the mail. We’ve had to get creative also about what we do. We used to have dinners and lunches and parties and things like that to celebrate, but now recognizing, acknowledging them, not just the award or the thing that you accomplished.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, absolutely. It is a team effort, it’s a community effort, so I appreciate that way of celebrating. We have a team here too, and like you said, I might be the founder, but there’s a whole lot of people that do a whole lot of work every single day that I mean, I see it, but I don’t see it see it. You know what I mean? I know they’re doing their job and it’s all about having a great team that you can trust. So, I totally agree with that. And I want to thank you for being on the show, for telling us about Ageless Grace. We will put all the contact information and your Facebook page with our video so that folks can reach out, they can get more information, they can join Facebook page and really learn more about brain health and how to make that brain even happier and more functional.

Denise Medved:

It’s a wonderful marketing tool, as you mentioned earlier, whatever your business is, to be able to say, “We provide an aspect of cognitive function support,” because right now people are pretty savvy. Older adults want to do something about their brain health and the families of older adults who are making decisions about caregiving, different kinds of services, whatever that might be, are looking for, “What can you do to support my mom’s memory? How can you help my dad be able to respond more quickly?” So yes, brain health is a wonderful thing to use as a marketing tool.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re right. We work with home care agencies all day long and some assisted living and that, and when we do that they’re always looking for a good way to differentiate themselves. And I always tell them you can say whatever you want to say that your competitor says, but when you really have that certification or you really have that training in place, that’s when it starts to matter. And that’s when you can even charge a little more to have super well-trained staff in dementia care or in Alzheimer’s type care or whatever it is you choose, Parkinson’s, whatever.

Denise Medved:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You can specialize in that. And we all know that being in a specific niche or niche, or however you want to say that, is really a great way to market and to be able to have a better margin.

Denise Medved:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for being on the show. We will make sure all of your contact information is available for your website. So, thank you so much.

Denise Medved:

Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.