Catherine McCarty, PhD, ADC
Dr. Catherine McCarty is a Gerontologist and dementia coach whose clinical experience includes over forty years of creating quality of life for individuals with dementia.
Catherine has a broad range of experience in Long Term Care. Starting as a nursing assistant, she knows the value of personalized care when providing physical care. As a memory engagement specialist, Catherine applies passion for creating quality of life experiences.
Throughout Catherine's Master’s in Thanatology and my PhD in Aging Studies, her focus has been on the best in memory care, always Creating a Thriving Environment.
Starting as a nursing assistant she learned the value of personalized care when providing physical care. As an activities professional she has a passion for creating opportunities for quality of life. Through years of nursing and activities care, she spent many hours at the side of dying individuals. She has taken her passion and her commitment to improving life to include end-of-life care.
Catherine was one of the first graduates of the Master’s of Thanatology program at Hood College. Holistic care is her commitment; conducting and translating research that enhances it is her mission. In 2012 Catherine received a doctorate in Aging Studies from University of South Florida.
Personal Website: https://catemccarty.com/
Hanh:[00:05:18] In the past would describe a dementia diagnosis as an extremely long game. You said that the diagnosis is only the first quarter and the game have many.
Cate: [00:05:30] Overtime. Yes, it does.
Hanh: [00:05:32] Yeah. So, has this comparison been helpful for your clients who have never dealt with dementia before?
[00:05:38] Cate: [00:05:38] I think so. The real rubber meets the road because people don’t show up.
[00:05:44] If you don’t show up to the game and realize you’re in it, then all of a sudden, you’re at the end and you didn’t, you haven’t had any strategies. And there’s a lot of reactiveness. So, when I meet with support group people often, I feel like I’m preaching to the wrong folks because they [00:06:00] already are showing up.
[00:06:01] So the showing up and realizing there is a game of foot, somewhat that’s. We could say that’s a medical model where, okay, we have this and we don’t have many solutions, but go ahead.
Hanh: [00:09:29] So I know you have five strategies for mental health, like measure and validate. Can you walk us through these strategies?
Cate: [00:09:37] Yeah. I’m measures my, I think a very vital one. And that is where are you? And in dementia world, that is a cognitive screening. That’s not always coming from your neurologist that might need to be from your neuropsychologist. Could be from me. I’ve just recently trained in a screening tool. That’s very, well-researched called the B cat [00:10:00] and my husband has done that recently and it’s helped me help make decisions.
[00:10:04] So measure is cognition, but it’s also environment. And if we expand this to the boomer population, am I living in a home that can support the changes that I’m facing? And let’s be realistic. We all have them as we get older. After 50, it was. Big I’ll wake up.
Hanh: [00:14:06] So you talk about the role of spirit and purpose in dementia care. Can you share with us the importance of the spirit and purpose and how you help your clients in this respect?
Cate: [00:14:17] I think. I love the newest dr. Johnson, Allen, Texas talks about time travel. It’s the fancy word is retro Genesis. We go back in time as much like Freud.
Cate: [00:14:31] We started with the symbol. Oral anal fixation. We go backwards that in dementia world and by different degrees, depending on your diagnosis. But when we look at spirits so much of it is about what, what was important to you as a child. Now, I always start with nature because it’s a sweet spot for me. And I think it’s a sweet spot for everyone.
[00:14:54] If you look at the dementia bill of rights, one of the items is the right to be outdoors. And it’s [00:15:00] amazing how often that is not available. So that’s a spiritual spot. Now, if I knew you were raised and you have early childhood memories, say, as a Baptist, then I would know in the garden would be a perfect tune to home as I walked with you.
Hanh: [00:17:39] So I know firsthand that confronting dementia head on every day must be emotionally draining. So how do you deal with the emotional toll that comes along with your work?
Cate: [00:17:50] It’s tough. I’ll be honest. I do have a few people I can vent to usually other professionals, which is really helpful. We, the reason we’re still [00:18:00] in Maryland is I have a lot more physical space.
Cate: [00:18:02] We’re in a much smaller place in Florida. I know that I have been given a gift if you will, that I’m using, I’m learning to filter and not cause my office is on second level not to go upstairs and say, who else is there? That’s really not helpful to my husband. I spend time meditating and sometimes it’s to chance.
Hanh: [00:21:25] So I’m going to shift the talk a little bit to research. Now, what is your current research is saying about brain health for the baby boomers and what’s the value of percent of participating. Um, in the research early,
Cate: [00:21:38] Oh, there’s so many values. Um, one of the things I wanted to be clear about is how important it is to get a baseline on your cognitive style. That can be one way to not have it trigger. Your insurance company is to go to a local research company. They’re doing great book cautions for CDC guidelines, but I’ve done that.
[00:21:58] And then I’ll go every year [00:22:00] and make sure. How am I holding? Am I getting better? That was one of the things about getting certified to the B cap is that it’s being used by functional medicine doctors to see if the there’s a protocol it’s called the Bredesen protocol.
Hanh: [00:25:39] I appreciate what you’re doing. You’ve said that your mission is conducting and translating research that enhances holistic care. So, can you tell us more about that and what do you mean by that?
Cate: [00:25:50] I think I am very much, psycho-socially wired. I’m about the psychology and the sociology of living well, and I will be [00:26:00] bold and say at the end of life, because the Hill there is a Hill and there is a side and it might be a really big class at one of the tops. We know there’s a Hill and there’s a slippery slope and all that.
[00:26:11] So I think it’s for me. I worked the predominant amount of my life has been in a medical model of care and medical model. If they’re taking care of your basic needs. They’re keeping you safe. They’re keeping you secure. They’re keeping you medically healthy as an activity’s director working in that, I was constantly trying to get up here with, this is a Maslow’s hierarchy.
Hanh:[00:27:56] So I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate that. So, do you [00:28:00] have any other thoughts that you would like to share with the audience?
Cate:[00:28:03] Ooh, that’s a big one.
Cate: [00:28:08] Um, I, I feel like we are very conscious. About this whole list that there’s more than just the medical model and as for everyone. So, it’s important to, you can have a rich life, no matter what, we can have a rich life right now in a pandemic without risking life and limb, but it takes some willingness.
[00:28:32] Willingness comes from a sense of wellbeing. And how do we get that? You’ve seen how coaching calls are up. Mental health need is up. Reach out to someone who has some perspective, a support group. You don’t have to ever show up again. Please show up to one. It doesn’t have to be mine. It can be anybody’s call the Alzheimer’s association.
Cate: [00:30:05] So much more prevalent than anyone’s willing to acknowledge. We have to get rid of the stigma of all mental health, but you mentioned the world that I work in and be willing to get some, to try new things. Okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re shameful because you need a helping hand. Yeah, no. And we can call it a coach.
Cate: [00:30:26] We can call a counselor, we can call it a therapist, whatever you need. There are options, but to have to be crystal willing to pick your head up out of the hole.
Hanh: [00:30:43] Thank you