Elderwood’s Seasons® Memory Care ProgramSeptember 1, 2015
By Ann Doetterl, Director of Memory Care Services — As a health services provider for a primarily senior population, Elderwood is committed to meeting the special needs of individuals with memory impairment, many of whom live in an assisted living or skilled nursing setting.
Every day, Elderwood offers residents a wide variety of activities, several of which are tailored specifically toward “brain fitness.” Memory games, puzzles, word searches, reminiscing and physical fitness classes are among the activities regularly offered to help residents keep their minds sharp.
At the skilled nursing level, where the majority of residents exhibit some form of cognitive degeneration, Elderwood offers its highly successful Seasons® Memory Care program.
Seasons participants are identified as “Spring,” “Summer” or “Winter” participants, designating their mild, moderate or severe. Activities are tailored to meet residents’ needs and ability to participate at each level. For instance, when a Seasons group bakes a pie, the “Spring” participants may measure or add ingredients, while the “Summers” mix the batter. A resident with greater impairment can enjoy the smell of the pie as it is cooking and the taste of the finishing product.
Technology has added a new layer to Seasons memory care. For instance, a staff member may guide a resident through a memory game played on an electronic tablet, or the tablet may be downloaded with family photos to create a digital photo album. Ipods are used to stimulate residents through music.
For those with a specific diagnosis of dementia, Elderwood’s provides appropriate, affirming activities. Memory-impaired individuals feel most comfortable when they are following a familiar routine. For this reason, you may discover the women in our Seasons participants doing office paperwork or folding laundry, as they once did in their careers or as homemakers. Men who were accustomed to working with their hands often enjoy woodwork.
Within the secure memory care environments at Elderwood at Amherst and Elderwood at Waverly, the Seasons philosophy touches all aspects of daily care and activities. Staff are specially trained to interact with memory impaired individuals, providing conversation, redirection and activities in which they can excel, no matter where they are in the progression of their disease. At other Elderwood skilled nursing facilities, Seasons is offered in a day-program setting, seven days a week.
In both environments, staffing remains consistent. Elderwood’s Seasons leaders get to know each individual, while residents are more at ease when their caregivers and surroundings are familiar.
Art therapy has demonstrated special benefits for cognitively-impaired individuals, especially those who have trouble articulating or who have lost the ability for verbal communication. Elderwood recently re-introduced the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memories in the Making program to resident programming. Memories in the Making uses watercolor paint as the medium for artistic expression and non-verbal communication of thoughts and feelings.
Whatever the program or level of care, Elderwood’s goal is to limit the progression of degeneration and improve the individuals’ quality of life.