How Saying Yes Helps Caregivers: Introducing Start With Yes!

Start with Yes book Cathy Braxton Tami Neumann

Janna, a resident in a memory care facility, woke up one night and found a few staff members congregated around the nurses station.  When a nurse asked Janna what was wrong, Janna told the group that there were alley cats outside her window making all sorts of ruckus.  Several of the nurses seemed dismissive of  Janna with their sideways glances and eye rolling, but one staff member, Terry,  approached Janna with a kind but concerned smile on her face.  

“Janna, let’s go see what all that ruckus is all about.  I suspect alley cats get hungry at this time of night.”  With that the two of them headed back down the hallway and disappeared into Janna’s room.  

A few minutes later Terry returned content.  The other staff were less confident, “Oh, she’ll be back out… Just you wait and see.”  But Janna never came back out of her room that night.  She was checked on 30 minutes later and was fast asleep.  “How did you do it?” the nurses questioned.  Terry explained that it was as simple as “Yes, And…”  Intrigued, they all huddled together to learn what this really meant.

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“Yes, And…” is the foundational rule to improv and improv, at its core, is all about creating relationships.  The concept of “Yes, And…” puts into perspective the value of creating and maintaining a relationship above all else, allowing the flexibility to create something meaningful out of nothing.

With our first book, Start with Yes! we dive into two profound improv rules anchored in connection. This quick read was tested amongst various age groups and caregiving abilities, proving to be accessible to all readers!  Additionally, Start with Yes! was formatted in such a way that even the busiest caregiver could glean insight and practical concepts immediately.  By committing just 10 minutes per night, the book can be accomplished in less than a week.

Confidence becomes shaken when a novice caregiver feels overwhelmed by multiple steps, instructions and long dissertations.   It was important for us to create a book that was digestible, funny, entertaining, educating, and most of all, insightful. Start with Yes! is a book that embraces neutral terminology, assisting caregivers in better understanding themselves and therefore the situation around them.

Here’s what readers are saying:

“This book is required reading for anyone caring for a person living with dementia. The Dementia RAW method is an innovative and compassionate approach that shows, through the rules of improv and the four pillars of empathy, how communications can move from disruptive frustration to peaceful understanding and ease. Cathy and Tami’s signature tell-it-like-it-is style coupled with their years of clinical training and research will transform your caregiving experience.” – Colleen Kavanaugh, Owner of The Longest Dance

“I read Start with Yes! late in my journey with my wife, Maureen, as her Alzheimer’s progressed. I was working hard to understand what my wife was thinking, and was not always successful. Start with Yes! gave me another, easy to remember method to keep my focus on what my wife was experiencing. I have found great peace and comfort in knowing that going into my wife’s world made all the difference for her and for me. We avoided so many confrontations in her last year because I paused and tried to agree with her, even knowing we could not always follow through on something. Maureen was satisfied that I had said “yes”.  She did not have to become agitated and angry. Our journey was hard and saying “yes” can be challenging but I don’t regret a minute and thank God I was able to peacefully walk her home. I regularly mention the Start with Yes! book when I talk with friends who are going through the same journey with a parent or spouse.” – Bill, Alzheimers Support Group Attendee

Start with Yes! is a must-read for all those who interact, work or live with people living with dementia.The content will change the way you see dementia and will give you an arsenal of tools and a clear process on how to effectively interact, listen and respond to those with dementia in a collaborative fashion.  Collaboration makes the person living with dementia feel valued as you tap in to their past and present emotions, memories, likes and dislikes. The method you learn in Start with Yes! proves to be a win-win for everyone touched by the challenges of dementia. – Allison Elkow Lazicky

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About the Dementia RAW Method:

The cofounders of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Tami Neumann and Cathy Braxton, created the Dementia RAW Method, an introspective improv approach to communication. The goal was to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia by educating, building confidence in and empowering all types of caregivers with a simple yet profound manner of connection. Cathy and Tami focus on alleviating difficult jargon, streamline the concept of communication, build confidence and create a “lifestyle” of connection that could be attained by anyone regardless of age or education level.

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About Author Tami Neumann:

As the Chief Operations Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Tami believes in taking the unconventional steps needed to create a change in culture that the aging community is in desperate need of.  This is reflected in the Dementia RAW Method, CDCS Certification Program and the Dinner Series in which they talk openly and honestly about Death, Dying & Aging, and Sexuality.  

Tami is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and completed all coursework in Nursing Home Administration while spending over 20 years in the Aging Industry.  Over the past 4 years she has hosted the Wego Award Nominated podcast, Conversations In Care & compiled a book based on the conversations she has had on her podcast. Currently, she studies improv under the direction of Antoine McKay and recently launched her new podcast Unscripted:  Life Improvised.

About Author Cathy Braxton:
As the Chief Education Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, Cathy believes in creating thought-provoking educational content.  Her unapologetic style, allows caregivers to dig deep into empathy and provides a safe space for exploration into this important foundational concept for the Dementia RAW Method, and the Certified Dementia Communication Specialist Training.  

She is a published author and blogger for The Chicago Tribune and was the Co-Ambassador for the Chicago Chapter of Aging 2.0 2015-2017.  Cathy has received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois and has completed all coursework for her M.A. in Health Psychology and Gerontology Studies.  Cathy has been in the industry over 20 years in the aging industry managing memory care units, directing activity programs, providing case management and service coordination, and facilitating support groups.

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