When evaluating memory care programs for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia or memory loss, it is important to ensure that the program meets your loved one where they are.
Memory challenges can be complex, and the key to navigating them is to understand the person receiving memory care as an individual, including the lives they have lived and who they are now. High-quality memory care programs invest in the time and staffing resources to develop a personalized approach to caring for residents. Their goal is to get to know the person, and then design a plan that preserves the essence of the individual and offers opportunities to enjoy familiar pleasures and pursuits in a safe, supportive environment.
Getting to Know Residents as Individuals and Catering to Their Needs
How do memory care programs institute a personalized approach to care that truly supports the individual needs of each resident? Through learning about the whole person – the life experiences, relationships, and circumstances that make them who they are today. For example, Pine Run asks each new memory care resident and their families to fill out a detailed survey about their lives, so the staff can tailor their care to each person’s unique needs. Knowing the things a person has done throughout their lifetime and understanding what is important to them is vital to providing empathetic memory care.
“The more we know about an individual in our memory care programs, the more equipped we are as senior care professionals to create a peaceful and nurturing environment for that individual to enjoy life,” says Mary Beth Baringer, administrator of The Garden at Pine Run. “We see our residents as full people with talents and abilities, who are able to experience joy every day. Knowledge of what makes these people special helps us bring out this joy as well as address any challenges that may arise.”
In just one example, Pine Run staff members were able to help a resident navigate a distressing time by understanding the person’s life experiences. One day, a group of children came to visit the residents in The Garden memory care program. When the children left, a resident who had been a school counselor became upset, thinking that he was still a school counselor and that he had lost the children. Because the care staff knew the resident’s life story, they were able devise a personalized approach to calm his distress. A Pine Run employee engaged in a role play as a police officer with the resident, assuring him that the children were safe and all was well, relieving the resident of his distress. It is easy to see how the individual cares and concerns of residents is vital to providing compassionate care that meets each person’s needs sensitively and meaningfully.
Ensuring Quality of Life through Enrichment and Activities
Those in memory care programs can enjoy each day if they have a care team that understands the talents, abilities, and favorite activities of the people they care for. When selecting memory care for your loved one, make sure to choose a program that tends not only to their immediate medical wellness needs, but also the varied emotional components of your loved one’s psychosocial wellness. It is important that people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are still able to engage with others and participate in activities they have always loved to do.
For example, The Garden at Pine Run offers group activities as well as one-on one time with caregivers. Residents are able to participate in such varied activities as art, discussion groups, games, entertainment, music, enjoying photo albums, gardening, and pet therapy.
The Garden’s highly individualized program is developed from conversations with the resident’s family members and friends, so that each person’s preferences and routines are taken into account. The facility maintains a full schedule of activities, so there are always opportunities for social and intellectual stimulation.
Learn more about residential memory care at Pine Run >>
Staff members actively look for ways to keep residents engaged; for instance, a career artist like resident Daniel Schwartz was able to continue drawing with the encouragement of staff member and fellow artist Wendy Stubb. Similarly, Pine Run’s Art Without Boundaries program draws out the individual qualities of each resident through joyful, expressive activities like singing, movement, directed painting, and storytelling.
A good memory care program will always focus on maintaining and catering to the essence of each resident through attention to personal details.
Each person has special, unique qualities that make them who they are, and the responsibility of memory care programs is to preserve and nurture these qualities so that residents continue to have the highest quality of life possible while navigating the challenges of various forms of dementia.
When choosing one of these programs for your loved one, learn about the program’s process of developing care. How much research does the facility do about the person they are caring for? Caregivers are empowered to provide compassionate care when they understand residents at their core. This way, they are able to help residents unlock joy and celebrate accomplishments. Make sure your program has a personalized plan for each person in their care, so that your loved one has the support they need and deserve.
You may also find these articles helpful:
Evaluating Memory Care Facilities >>
Music and Dementia: An Overview >>
The Alzheimer’s Support Group at Pine Run Lakeview >>