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An illustrious past meets an exceptional future.
Together we are committed to creating meaningful lives of purposeful engagement for every resident as well as those who serve them.

IRC Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
By: IRC Blog

How a Memory Care community can help your loved one stay engaged

One commonality that all of us share, no matter our age, is the desire and need to have meaning in our lives. There are many advantages, including improving our health, mood and outlook. But the fundamental changes it can bring to those with a cognitive illness can be crucial.

One commonality that all of us share, no matter our age, is the desire and need to have meaning in our lives. There are many advantages, including improving our health, mood and outlook. But the fundamental changes it can bring to those with a cognitive illness can be crucial.

Memory Care communities are specially trained to support those with dementia to live their best life. Through research, we have evidence that residents who live in this type of environment and participate in purposeful activities can also realize the following benefits:

  • Slow the progression of cognitive illness
  • Relieve depression and anxiety
  • Increase their sense of self-worth and accomplishment
  • Improve their independence and quality of life

What is meaningful engagement?

A common mistake many make when interacting with people with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to focus on the skills they’ve lost instead of on what they can still do. The right Memory Support staff understands that and searches for the activities that can bring them joy or catch their interest.

To be meaningful, interactions are planned for the specific individual with knowledge about their life - present and past. Each person can react differently and differently over time. Staff is trained to observe a person’s engagement with an activity and build from there.

Engagement at Memory Care communities

Communities that offer a person-centered approach get to know the resident so it can be possible to build meaningful relationships and engagement. To tailor care for a person, the staff will become familiar with past careers, hobbies and roles played in life. And many questions are asked. What brings them comfort? Do they enjoy working with their hands or does it cause frustration? Are there certain activities that can bring a calming effect or agitation?

Memory Support communities also understand the important role a primary caregiver plays. They have a wealth of information, including what has or hasn’t worked in regard to behaviors or responses. If the resident is unable to speak or struggles to communicate, the caregiver is their voice when conveying likes and dislikes.

Knowledge of the person, along with trial and error, can help establish a connection. You’ll want to find evidence of this at any community you consider, as well as answer the following:

  1. Does the staff put a priority on getting to know the person?
  2. Do they encourage the residents to speak for themselves?
  3. Do they promote open expression of opinions in a safe environment?
  4. Are residents supported to participate in daily tasks, which create a sense of purpose?
  5. Are the residents encouraged to make their own decisions as much as possible?
  6. Are there activities that allow residents to feel a sense of accomplishment?
  7. Does the staff encourage interaction with peers and the larger community?

Engagement should be encouraged at all levels

The right community understands that a person’s engagement, as much as possible, needs to include physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual opportunities. They also are trained to recognize that proactive efforts are often required as those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia may often tend to naturally withdraw from others. Many fear being embarrassed by their behavior or not being able to successfully complete a task.

The following are some activities you may see your loved one participating in, depending on their preferences and their stage of the disease. Whenever possible, you should also join in as being able to share life’s moments never diminishes in importance.

Early stages

In the beginning, the person is likely trying to accept and process the diagnosis. But there is still much they can accomplish. They should make sure they have made and completed critical decisions and documents, including legal, financial and long-term care planning. Physical and brain exercises should be encouraged, as well as social interaction.

Mid stages

Adapt exercises or other tasks to their abilities. Find learning opportunities and pleasurable activities to bring enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment. They may like spending time outdoors or taking a walk if the weather is nice. If it’s cold and snowy, bundle up and share some time enjoying winter’s handiwork. Then come in for hot chocolate and a nice treat.

Late stages

If their ability to communicate becomes more of a challenge, consider reading favorite stories to them, browse through old photo albums, or listen together to the music they enjoyed most. The part of the brain that processes music remains intact in many individuals and can be a calming and comforting way to communicate.

Ingleside at Rock Creek Memory Support Assisted Living

Our focus is to support your loved one to live an engaged and meaningful life. We take a whole-person approach to help our residents feel fully empowered. We also work with our families and our residents to create an individual care plan that includes music, art and recreational therapies.

Our team is educated on the best practices in dementia care. We also encourage social integration with our greater Ingleside community and support the family in order for them to remain connected in their loved one’s life.

Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a virtual tour today.



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