Kerry Mills Interview by Paul Solman of PBS News Hour

July 15, 2014: Kerry is interviewed by Paul Solman of the PBS News Hour about what motivated her to start Engaging Alzheimer’s and the important role she plays in dementia care training.

PAUL SOLMAN: Kerry Mills got so creative with her career, she created a new profession. After studying business at Arizona State and returning home to New York, she felt a religious calling to work with older people in nursing homes, but was bummed by what she saw.

KERRY MILLS, Engaging Alzheimer’s: There’s no enthusiasm. There’s no encouragement to go live your life. Still be who you are.

PAUL SOLMAN: So Mills enthusiastically transformed herself into what she called a dementia coach, training both staff and private clients on how to care for people like 93-year-old Grace Caffrey who have Alzheimer’s or related disabilities. Caffrey’s devoted niece, Mary Lou Casey, visits nearly every day.

KERRY MILLS: What are some of Grace’s challenges now?

WOMAN: I think the biggest issue is when they have to touch her, whether it’s the shower, the toileting, or anything in there. That’s where the problems are.

KERRY MILLS: Most people react when somebody goes to touch them. It is actually a defense mechanism. So, we also have to look in the situation to say, where can I give her a little bit more space so that she can be more independent?

PAUL SOLMAN: Kerry Mills has dozens of tips that I very much wish I had heard when I cared for my parents, which suggests the job possibilities in an aging and therefore fraying population.

KERRY MILLS: Astronomical. There’s a ton of jobs out there that you just have to go figure it out. You have to kind of craft it in your community.

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