2015: A Brain Changing Life: Transformation, Breakthrough & Wellness

2015: A Brain Changing Life: Transformation, Breakthrough & Wellness

Our 2015 symposium, A Brain Changing Life: Transformation, Breakthrough & Wellness, was held on May 13, 2015. The Keynote Speaker was newswoman Jane Pauley. The Hope Award was presented to Lori Erion and Valerie Brodbeck, and the Innovation Award to Dr. Govind Bharwani.

Keynote Speaker: Jane Pauley

JanePauley-2015One of broadcasting’s most respected and award-winning journalists, a CBS Sunday Morning contributor, a best-selling author of Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue and Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, Jane Pauley is familiar face on morning, daytime and primetime television, and one of broadcasting’s most respected journalists.

Pauley began her network career as co-host of TODAY for thirteen years, anchored Dateline NBC for more than a decade and hosted her own daytime program, The Jane Pauley Show.

Pauley is the recipient of multiple Emmys, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding achievement and the Gracie Allen Award from the Foundation of American Women in Radio & Television. Pauley is a member of the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame.

Pauley has written two New York Times bestsellers: a memoir, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue (2004) and Your Life Calling: Reimagining The Rest of Your Life (2014) based on her award-winning series on TODAY-20009-2013-about people 50+ starting different careers, learning new skills, making a difference or pursuing their dreams.

A longtime advocate in children’s health and education, Pauley is also a highly regarded spokesperson in mental health. She and her husband, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, are the parents of three grown children.

Innovation Award Recipient: Dr. Govind Bharwani

Dr. Govind Bharwani (left)-2015Dr. Govind Bharwani is the recipient of the Greater Dayton Brain Health Foundation’s Award for Innovation in the Field of Brain Health. The following innovative programs were developed by Dr. Bharwani in Montgomery County to improve the quality of life for people suffering from Alzheimer ’s disease and dementia:

• The individualized Behavior-Based Ergonomics Therapy (BBET) program was launched in the memory care unit of St. Leonard (Centerville, OH) in 2010 and later expanded fourfold when St. Leonard expanded its dementia services into a 60-bed memory support residence. The program consists of a combination of music therapy, video therapy, stimulating therapy and reminiscent therapy available 24/7. Staff effectively uses information of the resident’s life story and cognitive level to provide customized therapeutic engagement. The program has received six national awards. The results achieved include the reduction in resident falls, reduction in use of anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medication, and improvement in mood and behavioral issues.

• The Alzheimer’s Association Memory Resource center (MRC) is an innovative program available to the community for people with early stage dementia (and their caregivers) which uses the tools and knowledge gained from experience with the BBET Program. The MRC was developed through a collaborative effort between Dr. Bharwani, the Alzheimer’s Association (Miami Valley Chapter), and St. Leonard. The MRC was launched in October 2012.

• The application of the BBET program for hospice patients was launched in 2013 at Hospice of Dayton. This innovative program and associated training, prepared Hospice caregivers (in the inpatient facility known as Hospice House) to provide customized comforting therapies using advanced BBET techniques that enhance the patient’s ability to engage during later stages of the disease.

• The first BBET pilot program for Hospice patients with dementia living at home was launched in 2014 funded by Greater Dayton Brain Health Foundation. The home care teams of Hospice of Dayton have been trained and are sharing the tools and techniques with families in the community.

• Through the support of the Greater Dayton Brain Health Foundation, a new educational series is being pioneered in Dayton for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Dr. Bharwani has prepared an outstanding series of 12 lectures (one for each month) to convey knowledge of ergonomics and neuroscience research in a practical manner to help caregivers develop a new relationship with their loved ones while they are on this long and difficult journey. This content is not available anywhere else in the country and it addresses an important need in our community.

Dr. Bharwani is dedicated to helping caregivers and organizations provide the best quality of care and quality of life for people in any stage of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The implementation of the BBET Program at St. Leonard achieved remarkable results within 6 months that drew the attention of the American Medical Directors Association in 1012, and Dr. Bharwani presented his work at their national conference.

Dr. Bharwani has applied his extensive background in ergonomics to develop practical and innovative solutions to strategic challenges faced by all long-term care facilities (including resident falls, workplace injuries, and improving the quality of life for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He effectively targets the root causes of any issue which has resulted in sustained success for the programs he has implemented.

Dr. Bharwani’s long-standing working relationships with the Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice of Dayton, St. Leonard, and several departments at Wright State University are a testament to his ability to develop professional associations and energize team members.

Hope Award Recipient: Lori Erion and Valerie Brodbeck

Lori  ErionLori Erion: Our first HOPE Award honoree today is Lori Erion. When her daughter started using heroin, Lori did not know where to turn. Although she was herself in long-term recovery, she did not understand heroin addiction. During four years of struggling with her daughter’s addiction, she found no one who really understood. Some suggested that her daughter get “new friends” while others advised Lori to “kick her out.” There really was nowhere for Lori to find the support she desperately needed.

So what did Lori do? She began thinking that maybe other families were experiencing the same problem. So on October 17, 2013, FOA (Families of Addicts) was born. It was created initially as a support group where families could share their stories with each other and offer friendship support and some information. Within that initial group of six people, it was clear that families were having trouble getting their loved ones into treatment. Stigma, being judged, and lack of treatment options made things very difficult for families and their loved ones.

In due time, Lori came upon the website, “Many Faces, 1 Voice,” and the “Anonymous People” film. She became convinced that people in recovery must stand up and speak because their stores have power to eradicate stigma and create better treatment options. Lori was determined that advocacy must be the mission of FOA>

Family members began to tell their stories. They became involved with the media, letting people know that there is HOPE. The number of people participating in FOA has grown more than ten-fold. Now, at least three groups are meeting in our area and another one in Colorado. The first “Rally 4 Recovery” targeting stigma attracted over 200 people.

Members of FOA are speaking out in order to change policy, to create better access to treatment and to share that recovery is possible. The story continues to unfold: addicts and families sit down together and talk; an office has been established at the Life Enrichment Center; and recovery housing is being considered. The goal is to establish a “recovering community” that involves not just the addict, but the whole family.

Lori Erion is a catalyst, an advocate, an inspiration, a leader, a friend who never stops or slows down. Oh, did I tell you? Lori is also working another job and dealing with her daughter’s addiction.


Valerie Brodbeck-2015Valerie Brodbeck: I struggled with drug addiction for eight long years and at one point had lost everything. I had tried numerous treatment centers but nothing seemed to work until finally around six years ago I managed to get clean.

Getting clean was easier than learning how to live clean and the first few years were a struggle. I had totally changed my life in order to stay clean, I got rid of all the people I used to hang out with, I moved, and I created a totally new daily routine. After a year or so this new routine became habit. Around a year into being clean I became pregnant. I raised my son completely on my own and without a lot of social support. One day I was craving really bad and didn’t know what to do so I just started running and I have been running ever since, competing in ultramarathons now.

I believe one of the biggest parts of overcoming drug addiction is creating a network of social support and finding a purpose and goal in your life. It took me a while to learn how to make new friends and find my purpose. Today I have an amazing group of friends and family. I went back to school in order to find a purpose and graduated with honors with a social work degree. I am currently working on my masters now.

A few years ago I was watching the TV and saw Lori Erion speaking about starting a group for family members of loved ones and thought that could be a great opportunity for me to give back. I had experienced a lot of stigma and discrimination and was treated as less than human in a lot of the treatment agencies and hospitals I went to and I wanted to be a voice for those who are not heard. I also want to offer support to family members because I know what kind of hell I put my family through. I am now director of advocacy for FOA and speak out at local events and rallies. I want to help change the conversation about drug addiction and show that recovery is possible. I also helped start the benzodiazepine subcommittee whose goal is to work on raising awareness of the benzodiazepine problem and how it effects those seeking treatment for co-occurring addictions.

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