Regency Charlotte Blog

If you’ve spent time with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you know from experience that communication can be a challenge. Long term memories go hazy, words aren’t always on the tip of the tongue, and you might be getting used to a shift in roles, such as child to caretaker. But with creative expression, you can ease some of the communication frustrations that come with the types of dementia. Creative expression is as simple as drawing images while listening to music, storytelling, dancing, and many more!  Artistic expressions can have a major impact, not only on quality time spent with loved ones, but on their overall mood and communication skills.

Charlotte dementia care activities

Studies have shown that giving seniors the opportunity to express themselves in this way can have a major benefit for their cognitive function, mental health, and quality of life. After all, just because they don’t discuss the same subjects and memories they used to doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say. Creative expression is a great opportunity to tap into feelings, observations, humor, and knowledge. The healing powers of art and other forms of creative expression, can likewise enhance memory and the ability to reminisce.

Those who have facilitated storytelling workshops and other narrative activities for seniors have noted that even those who are usually quiet and reluctant to speak become more engaged after participating in creative projects. In groups, memory care patients find new ways to relate and relay information. All that matters is that the seniors are invited to share in a positive environment. These exercises have been clinically shown to not only benefits patients, but caregivers, too. By focusing on what empowers and delights seniors, in return friends, family, and professionals have a more rounded view of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and their capabilities.

One 2009 study revealed that the creative storytelling method can foster meaningful engagement between patients with dementia and their caregivers by encouraging seniors to rediscover their imaginations. In other words, by focusing on what memory care residents are good at and what they enjoy, the focus is put on the individual, rather than their condition.

The activity itself is pretty simple. Take photos of humans, animals, or even illustrations and ask residents what they think. Show another image, and ask how that impacts the narrative. For example, you could show a man on a plane, followed by an image of the same man on the beach. What do participants think he is doing? Is he on vacation? A scientist? A father in search of his long lost children? The possibilities are endless, as is the fun you might have when discussing them with the assisted living resident in your life.

Written by: Meghan O’Dea

Thursday, 31 July 2014 17:12

Coming to Grips with Alzheimer's Disease

cxnThere are some common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that kills one in every 3 seniors who dies each year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For example, it is possible to get it while young, although most cases do affect persons 60 or older. And everyone knows about the “senior moments”, but it also involves changes in sensitivity to light and depth perception.

Alzheimer’s patients can have good days and bad ones.

When a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer’s, the person living with it often feels a combination of relief to finally have answers, anger at what life has thrown at them, denial about change, fear and depression about what lies ahead, and a sense of isolation in which no one understands what they are going through.

The emotions can feel overwhelming for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that they are not alone. There are a number of support groups, information online (see below) and resources to preserve quality of life while making the necessary adjustments.

It is critical for someone in the early stages of the disease to make legal and financial plans with a person they can trust while they are still able to participate in making decisions to ensure that others know their wishes, and know what to do.

Changes in thinking may reduce one’s ability to make appropriate decisions about self-care and day-to-day needs as the disease progresses. Difficulty managing personal hygiene or household tasks can lead to unsafe living conditions. Someone in that situation needs to plan ahead for how they will address basic needs, including housing, meals and physical care.

One option available to people in Charlotte is Regency Retirement Village’s Heritage Memory Care Unit.

With monthly rent to Heritage, residents take care of several challenges created by Alzheimer’s. They live in spacious studio apartments with private bathrooms, an enclosed courtyard, and numerous amenities, yet it is also a secure unit with a 24-hour emergency response system monitored by on-site staff.

All utilities are paid. There are smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system. Plus, daily housekeeping service, meals and snacks throughout the day, scheduled transportation to medical appointment and activities, and assistance with the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, walking, grooming and medication management.

Additionally, Heritage is conveniently located off I-485 next to Carolina Medical Center at Pineville and close to physician's offices. Regency even has a beauty and barber shop.

Regency works hand-in-hand with the local Alzheimer’s Association to assist in continued education of our staff, hosting support groups for our families, and educating people in the Chattanooga area.

The association is organizing the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Charlotte on Sept. 27 at Symphony Park. The event raises money to help advance Alzheimer’s support, care and research. To donate and/or participate, visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/NC-WesternCarolina?fr_id=5251&pg=entry or volunteer with Jacob Wilkins at (765) 544-0631.

To learn more about Memory Care at Regency Senior Living, visit http://regencyretirement.net/charlotte-retirement-living-services/charlotte-memory-care-retirement-facility or call (704) 542-9449. 

Further reading:

Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org/

The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

Alzheimer's Reading Room: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/

The New York Times "New Old Age" Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/

Photo Credit: Môsieur J. [version 9.1] via Compfight cc

Published in Memory Care

Request Information