Enrichment Through Memory Care

Knowing mom is happy and safe gives family peace of mind.

Laura McLaren first saw Grace Manor Port Orange when she visited the assisted living and memory care community as a volunteer with her church group.

Laura McLaren tells how her mother, Annie, thrives at Grace Manor Port Orange, an assisted living and memory care community.

Laura visits her mother, Annie, at Grace Manor.

“It was Christmas time and our church group was caroling at different places and we went to Grace Manor. All the residents there seemed so happy and I thought to myself, If and when my mom needs assisted living, this would be such a nice place for her.

At the time, Laura and her four

siblings were concerned about their mother, Annie, who had lived in the same house for more than 40 years. One of Annie’s granddaughters lived with her, but Annie’s dementia was progressing. Her overall health seemed to be declining, too. Annie wasn’t interested in eating properly and had lost a good deal of weight.

Only a month after Laura’s visit to Grace Manor, the family realized Annie needed more care than they could provide by themselves.

“She was doing things like going out the door of her house and saying, I want to get a cab and go home,” recalls Laura. “That was when we knew, It’s time.

Laura remembered what she had seen at Grace Manor. She believed the community’s smaller size and caring atmosphere would be a good fit for her mother. Grace Manor’s cleanliness, professional staff and high level of security gives the family peace of mind.

“I like the fact that Grace Manor is an assisted living and memory care community,” notes Laura. “We knew our mother needed that kind of environment. The fact that it’s smaller was right for her, especially since she was coming from her own house. She would have been lost in a big facility.”

Participation and Joy

Grace Manor is a community of 54 private suites where the emphasis is on care. Seniors enjoy apartment-style suites with assistance for activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, grooming and hygiene.

The design of the building and grounds is purposely serene through selection of soft colors and simple flooring patterns. Suites are equipped with motion alarms and a call-bell system that is linked to a staff pager system to ensure safety.

The community is kept secure through controlled access. Residents can safely enjoy the courtyard walking path and other engaging activities. Meals are prepared under the guidance of a dietitian and dining is in place to support a feeling of normalcy.

A roster of activities that encourages participation and joy are abundant at Grace Manor. They include outings for lunch and community events. Other ongoing activities include exercise classes and reminiscence therapy.

“We do things like music therapy where we bring in entertainers. The residents participate and they sing along and use instruments like drums and tambourines,” notes Caryn Lauver, Grace Manor’s risk manager and director of health and wellness.

A personal touch is that residents have shadow boxes displayed outside their suites. The memory boxes are filled with photos and mementos that have personal significance. For people with memory impairments, it helps in locating their suite.

“We ask the family to post or provide pictures of the residents and their family members. We have a lot of people with wedding photos and pictures of their kids,” says Caryn. “It’s a memory box, so people include the things that mean something to them. One man has a medal from the Army in his.”

The memory boxes not only help the residents, but also give the staff a wider perspective about the people they are caring for.

“The memory boxes let the staff know that at one time the resident was a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer, a very important mother to young children,” notes Caryn. “We want to remember to see them as more than just our residents. The staff gets a little bit of insight about who they once were.”

Resident assistants who work with patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia undergo special training. They use methods to align themselves with whatever the resident is experiencing in the moment. The goal is to help the person struggling with the effects of dementia to feel reassured, calm and not so alone.

“We have a life enrichment program for our memory care residents that offers specific activities that cater to those with cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s and dementia,” adds Caryn. “We do lots of sensory activities. For instance, we can listen to recordings and videos of laughing babies that make the residents laugh. The system is really unique.”

Up and Dancing

Annie, who is 93, has thrived since moving to Grace Manor two years ago, says her daughter.

“She has gained ten to fifteen pounds just from being around other people and interacting with them,” adds Laura. “The nice thing is that the staff doesn’t just leave the residents in their rooms. They encourage them to come out and be with the other residents.

“If you ask anybody there what Annie is like, they will tell you she loves to dance. They bring in plenty of different musicians and she just absolutely loves it. She’ll get up in her walker and lead the conga line,” Laura continues.

“You put some music on and her foot starts tapping and she wants to get up and dance. She really likes it, too, when the musician comes in who brings drums and tambourines. She just loves that. And they have different volunteers who come in and help with crafts, along with other activities.”

Laura visits Annie often, so she knows the staff and residents.

“I can pop in and visit, so I’m there just about every day. I know all the residents there – it’s just a wonderful group. My mom absolutely loves Carol, the activities director. You only need to say Carol’s name and Mom lights up,” reports Laura.

“The staff is excellent. They’re always looking out for my mom, so I can always call them and ask how she is doing if I can’t get over there that day.”

The family’s decision that Annie couldn’t live at home any longer wasn’t an easy one. But seeing how the care she receives at Grace Manor has helped their mother assures them it was the right choice, says Laura.

“Everyone in our family thinks it is a great place,” she adds. “We are all very happy with Grace Manor.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic courtesy of VectorVaco.
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