Eilon has been working in the aging field his entire adult life, starting in 1994 as a nurse aide in a nursing home where his grandfather lived and passed away. HIs work, research, presentations, training programs, consultations, publications, volunteering, and advocacy always focused on improving the quality of care and quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia both in the community and long-term care homes (such as nursing homes and assisted living residences).
He worked as a social worker in a long-term care home for low-income elders with dementia in the city of Jaffa Israel and over the years he trained several hundreds of direct care partners, interdisciplinary teams, and managers in long-term care homes on various care-related issues pertaining to elders with dementia both in Israel, the U.S., and Canada.
He is frequently invited to give presentations and training programs to direct care partners and other care professionals (such as nurses, social workers, recreation therapists) in long-term care homes and support groups as well as at various aging and dementia-related agencies. He also regularly give presentations (such as on prevention of the public health problem of distressing and harmful resident-to-resident interactions in dementia in long-term care homes) at professional and scientific conferences at the local, state, national, international levels as well as at the VA. A few years ago he was invited to present on this prevalent, concerning but mostly hidden public health problem at the United Nations in NYC.
Eilon worked as a consultant in long-term care homes for people with dementia where he led a culture change journey. He developed and enjoyed teaching an upper level undergraduate course entitled Psychology of Older Adults with Memory-Loss at the Psychology Department of University of Massachusetts Boston, MA.
In his applied research related to elders living with dementia, he focused on areas such as the experience of family members caring for a relative with dementia at home as well as psychosocial strategies used by direct care partners used to prevent various forms of behavioral expressions in long-term care homes. These included, among others, distressing and harmful resident-to-resident interactions, rejection of care, self-neglect, wayfinding difficulties, and positive effects of meaningful engagement of people living with dementia in various forms of organized activities.
He is especially interested in educating and training family members and paid direct care partners and other care professionals in dementia-specific approaches, communication techniques, and personalized psychosocial strategies for prevention of behavioral expressions among elders with dementia, and development and implementation of culture change practices and journeys in long-term care homes and in the community.
Eilon has been greatly influenced by the pioneering and groundbreaking work of the late Professor Tom Kitwood (Bradford Dementia Group, UK) and have a special interest in innovative person-directed care models of support and care such as the Habilitation Model of Care, the Need-Driven Dementia Compromised Behavior Model, the Validation Method, and the Progressively-Lowered Stress Threshold Model.
He has always been passionate and committed to translating, disseminating, and implementing useful knowledge from research studies into practice and ensuring that those who need it the most – elders, people in early stages of dementia, their family care partners, paid direct care partners, professionals, and policy makers – will have easy access to it when they need it.
While many applied researchers are tuned to the pressing needs of people with dementia at the “ground level,” there is still a major disconnect between academia/research and practice. The combination of Eilon’s personal experience with dementia in his family, his extensive professional experience working with this population, and his applied research experience places him in a unique position to serve as an invaluable resource for this population as it enables him to create a bridge between these two worlds. Dissemination and “translation” of useful knowledge from research to practice has been very rewarding for him over the years.
As a Gerontologist and Dementia Behavior Specialist, trainer/educator, researcher, writer, and care advocate, Eilon’s goal is to improve the quality of care and life of people living with dementia through evidence-based educational programs, person-directed psychosocial strategies, and support to people living with dementia and family and paid (professional) care partners of people living at all stages of dementia.
Both of Eilon’s grandmothers lived with dementia in the final years of their lives. While he didn’t care for them directly, he frequently saw during his visits how the cognitive disabilities caused by the disease impacted them and the entire family and what it took to support and care for them at home and then in different long-term care homes.
Here’s a picture from the days when Eilon’s grandmothers (Rivka Caspi on the left and Ester Bernard on the right) were independent and physically and cognitively healthy…and when Eilon was 20 years younger…
Eilon’s personal and professional experiences enable him to connect with people living with dementia and their family and paid care partners wherever they are with a deep understanding of their struggles and hopes.
He believes that the real and best teachers, trainers, and experts are…..people living with dementia. They actually know what it means to live with a cognitive disability. Therefore, to provide person-directed care it is necessary to listen to their wishes in the early stages of dementia and continue to listen and attend to their emotional needs and non-verbal language and behavioral expressions at the later stages of dementia.
Eilon strongly believes that building and maintaining close trusting relationships, collaborations, and partnerships with people living with dementia (an “Authentic Partnership;” a term coined by Dr. Sherri Dupuis) is fundamental to enabling these individuals to live their life to the fullest and to achieve the highest practical psychological and social well-being despite substantial cognitive disabilities.
Eilon is looking forward to working with you towards achieving this goal!