When it comes to memory care, a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis doesn’t mean life stops. It simply means that the journey continues in a different — but truly meaningful — way. At St. Anthony’s, we seek to help seniors continue living a purposeful life with our specialized memory care program we call Journeys.
This intentional memory support program is crafted from six key signatures we developed to guide residents through joyful days with the support and love of their families and our experienced team. Our six signatures are:
- Team Development
- Family Partnerships
- Life Enrichment
- Personalized, Supportive Environment
- Dining Experience
What does a personalized, supportive environment mean for our memory care residents? Keep reading to get a behind-the-scenes look into Journeys and how we get to know memory care residents on an individual level at St. Anthony’s.
Appreciating What Makes Our Residents Unique
We emphasize a personalized experience at St. Anthony’s because we understand and appreciate how each of our residents is unique and different. Here, you’ll find that we’re passionate about caring for each individual.
Our residents — and, equally important, their families! — will find an experience unlike any other in our memory care program. Our dedicated professionals are committed to getting to know your loved one beyond their physical needs. This begins by learning their life story, even before they move in. Career history, family background, treasured hobbies, unique interests, favorite pastimes . . . The list goes on, and it all matters to us. Because when we understand our residents’ past, we can help them make the most of their present.
Even with a dementia diagnosis, your loved one is still the person they always were with their wonderful personality held within. Our goal is to create an environment unique to who they are. As you come to know the Journeys program, you’ll see how this personalized supportive environment is a part of everything we do.
Surrounding Residents with Feelings of Comfort
One way we’re creating a personalized space for your loved ones is through the use of shadow boxes. This shadow box will be displayed outside of each apartment and showcase what’s unique and personal for each resident. We love having families partner with us to create shadow boxes that reflect their loved one’s interests and pastimes.
The things we might include in a shadow box are mementos like photos, awards, or favorite items. Small trinkets or decorations your loved one appreciated for many years can add a special touch. These special things can act as a connection to the past. They may spark a memory or simply evoke a feeling of love and peace.
Not only do shadow boxes help residents recognize their apartment, but they also act as conversation starters. Socialization is still an important part of the life journey, even after a dementia diagnosis. For those who may have difficulty expressing emotions and communicating, shadow boxes can be a jumping-off point, triggering special memories.
At other times, if a resident is having a difficult day experiencing emotions or other challenges, bringing them to their shadow box can be a great help and comfort. As our staff starts a simple conversation about something in the shadow box, we’ve seen anxiety fade and struggles ease. While this isn’t a cure-all, it’s one helpful tool for our team to assist residents. With a simple conversation starter, we can help shift away from the day’s challenges.
In fact, studies show that sharing life experiences, memories, and stories from the past can give those diagnosed with dementia a sense of competence and confidence. Rather than asking a difficult, “Do you remember when . . .” shadow boxes allow residents to use physical items to trigger interests and conversation.
In addition to visual memories, our team tries to incorporate experiential memories when it’s possible. We take care to listen and understand what activities bring our residents joy, even if it’s something simple. Providing the opportunity to participate in activities that offer a sense of control and normality helps our residents build self-esteem.
Bringing in Feelings of Home
There is so much that families and loved ones can do to add a personalized touch to our memory care apartments. Our goal is for your loved one’s new home to feel as familiar as possible with what their environment was before. What does this look like at St. Anthony’s?
Here’s a tip for families. Take a picture of what your loved one’s bedroom looks like at home and take a look at the elements involved. How might you be able to set up their new apartment in a manner that’s as similar as possible to what it was before?
What items decorated the walls? Where did the chairs sit in the room? What was on their nightstand? It’s all about familiarity. For example, if a quilt hung on your mother’s wall for 50 years, bring that quilt and hang it on the wall. Take a careful look at what surrounded your loved one in their home and consider what will work in their new apartment. Our team understands just how important the feeling of home is to our memory care residents and we’re happy to help them find that in their new environment.
Bringing as much home as possible to St. Anthony’s can make a world of difference to your loved one. This makes their new space comfortable, unique, and special. It’s just one more way that the Journeys memory care program at St. Anthony’s creates a personalized supportive environment for all.
Are you interested in learning more about St. Anthony’s memory care program for your loved one? Read more about our meaningful memory support program and get in touch for more information.