Nurturing Memories: How Memory Care Programs Enhance Quality of Life for Seniors with Dementia

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Dementia is complex and poses many challenges for seniors and their families. The level of care required grows over time while the quality of life for everyone it touches can begin to shrink accordingly. In memory care communities, however, seniors living with dementia enjoy a variety of programs designed specifically to help slow progression of the disease, support independence and enhance their overall quality of life.

3 ways memory care programs enhance the quality of life for seniors with dementia

#1: Comprehensive care plans

Right from the start, residents of memory care communities are assessed, and a comprehensive care plan is developed that addresses their physical needs as well as their cognitive status. These individualized care plans may also include a senior’s specific likes and dislikes, habits, abilities, behaviors, and personal history. Care plans are used to guide treatment and care but also to help staff get to know each resident personally, forge relationships and help them provide the “person-centered” care that best suits each senior’s needs. Learn more about care plans in the brightfocus.org article, “Developing a Dementia Care Plan.”

#2: Life enrichment activities

Seniors living with dementia are often perceived to have limitations that exclude them from some of life’s most enriching activities, but in memory care the emphasis is on engagement and participation. Top memory care communities like Sinceri Senior Living offer a variety of activities and events that are proven to help seniors with dementia feel good about themselves.

At Sinceri we call this “purposeful programming.” As noted in our article, “Brain Health Week #5: Purposeful Programming and Memory Care,” this can include the basics like group exercise classes, arts and crafts workshops, games and puzzles, and onsite events like sing-alongs with local entertainers, but we go a step further. We keep seniors with dementia engaged and challenged to achieve more by taking part in everyday activities like weeding the garden, helping clean up after meals, decorating for special events, handing out snacks, and serving as host or hostess in the dining room. Even if the jobs aren’t completed perfectly residents feel useful and gain a sense of pride for trying.

Another aspect of life enrichment is helping memory care residents to look and feel their best. Staff provide daily assistance with personal hygiene and dressing and residents may also have the benefit of on-site hair salons and barber shops so they feel pampered and cared for.

Download our free ebook, “Just the Facts: Your Guide to Memory Care”.

#3: Diverse therapies

Also common in memory care programming are different non-pharmacological therapies designed specifically to help seniors living with dementia. These therapies complement drug therapies by helping residents maintain and stimulate cognitive abilities, manage behavioral and emotional problems, and may even slow progression of the disease. While many seniors benefit from physical, occupational and speech therapy, memory care programming may also include:

  • Art therapy – Creating art is a fun and stimulating way for seniors living with dementia to express themselves and feel in control which can go a long way toward improving quality of life. According to the alzinfo.org article, “How Art Can Aid People with Alzheimer’s” studies have shown that art therapy can also provide a calming influence and may improve physical abilities, focus, self-esteem, and socialization.
  • Music therapy – Music is a powerful tool for helping seniors living with dementia. As described in the musictherapy.org document, “Music Therapy and Dementia Care: Older Adults Living with Memory Disorders,” music is processed throughout the brain and not just in one area, music can be appreciated even in later stages of dementia, when other normal functions have slowed or shut down. Among the many benefits of music therapy are better moods, less depression, anxiety and agitation, improved alertness, and better cognition and recall, which can also lead to a decreased need for some medications.
  • Reminiscence therapy – Memory loss is the hallmark of dementia, but reminiscence therapy can often help dementia patients recall and share memories from the past. Reminiscence therapy can involve just talking, but may also include the use of sounds, smells and other aids to help seniors remember. The goodtherapy.org article, “Reminiscence Therapy (RT)” notes that it can be used alone or with other therapies, and can help decrease depression and improve cognition, moods, behavior, and self-worth.
  • Animal-assisted therapy – Often called “pet therapy,” animal-assisted therapy is another way memory care communities work hard to provide improved quality of life for their residents. Animals can be a bridge to seniors living with dementia, even to those who can no longer speak or don’t recognize or interact with family. Some memory care communities have shared pets that live on campus while others invite specially trained service animals to visit regularly. Families are also encouraged to bring well-behaved pets along for visits which can be especially good for their pet grandparents. Learn more in the verywellmind.com article, “How Does Pet Therapy Benefit People With Dementia?

At Sinceri Senior Living quality of life is built into everything we do. Contact us to learn more and schedule a tour. Download our free guide, “Just the Facts: Memory Care” for more information about senior living memory care communities.

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