Managing Dementia

Keeping seniors active and engaged

Cyrilla Sroka was born in 1917 in a small town in Massachusetts, where she lived for most of her adult life. Today, she lives at Symphony at
St. Augustine, a new community designed exclusively for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and other forms of dementia. In October, Cyrilla will celebrate her 100th birthday with her friends there.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Cyrilla takes
a break in her
painting to have a chat with
Anna Tenorio.

Cyrilla had always been a strong, independent woman. However, when she got into her 90s, her daughter, Linda Chambless, who lives in Florida, wanted Cyrilla to leave Massachusetts and move closer to her.
“I finally convinced her to move to Florida in 2009 because she was ninety-
two and living alone in her home,” shares Linda. “I told her she needed to sell the house and move down here so we would be close.”
Initially, Cyrilla moved into an assisted living facility and functioned at a very independent level. Using a walker, she had excellent mobility, and participated in many of the facility’s activities. Then, she fell, spent time in the hospital and went through rehabilitation.
“By the time Mom went through all that, she was not able to recover the strength she had prior to the fall,” describes Linda. “Her physical stamina did not return, and her mental stamina, her cognition, had deteriorated as well.
“I explored several options before selecting Symphony at St. Augustine. But from the first time I met the people there, I felt they were extremely knowledgeable, which impressed me. Another thing that stood out about Symphony is that everyone on staff is incredibly kind and caring, but most of all patient.”

Safe and Secure

Ginny Kaye is a nurse and works long hours, so sometimes her mom, June Kline, who was living with her, would stay at home alone. For years, June was fine on her own; however, Ginny started to worry when her mom began exhibiting some strange behavior.
“My mom started becoming confused. She put the laundry soap pods in the dryer and the dryer sheets in the washer,” describes Ginny. “She wasn’t sure how to lock the door and was having trouble getting dressed in the morning. She didn’t like showering or taking care of herself, and she couldn’t cook a dinner for herself in the microwave.
“She continued to decline and then had a couple of falls. Her last fall was the ultimate driving force behind making a change. She called me on the phone and told me she was working in the office on paperwork, but she had been on the ground close to six hours.”
Ginny knew it was no longer safe for June to stay at her house when Ginny was not able to be there. Ginny thought June would get along in an assisted living arrangement. However, June wandered away from that facility and couldn’t tell police where she lived. Ginny then realized her mom needed additional care.
“I started looking for a community where Mom would be safe and still be active. Lo and behold, I found Symphony at St. Augustine,” she describes. “I was so excited when I saw the facility and met with the team. Symphony is different, not because it is new, but because the staff is highly involved in interactive activities with the residents. I wanted my mom to engage in daily activities.
“The activities director keeps the residents’ days packed, from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. They have music sessions and people playing guitar. There are calming activities, and in the afternoon, they play Bingo and have prizes. They have sing-alongs, and Mom engages in that, as well as arts and crafts activities. Mom made a beautiful dream catcher and hung it on the door to her room.”

Active Program

Symphony at St. Augustine offers a variety of opportunities as part of their memory care activities program. These include social events, group outings, art therapy and various entertainment sessions.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

Daughter Ginny visits June while stylist Aly Bradshaw does her hair.

“We have guest speakers, an intergenerational exchange and spiritual events,” states Anna Tenorio, memory support director. “Part of my role is to ensure all residents take part in meaningful activities and stay busy and engaged, but all staff are involved in keeping residents active.”
The memory care activities program incorporates daily living routines into the planned activities. This enables residents with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s and other related dementias to function at their highest potential and improve their well-being.
“Along with promoting individual life victories, this program offers stimulating and educational group activities,” notes Anna. “We also use our signature approach to memory care, which is called In the Moment®. It is designed to help residents feel engaged and valued throughout the day.”
In the Moment is based on six principles: physical engagement, spiritual support, artistic expression, community connections, continued education, and lifestyle and leisure. The principles are the framework for meeting residents in the moment they are experiencing for kind and compassionate engagement to guide them through their days.
The community features life stations, which are areas where residents can participate in purposeful activities, from taking care of dolls to working in a small, raised garden. Other life stations include a travel station with items from across the world, and a “gentleman’s” station that features sports memorabilia and also clothing, like a top hat and dress coat.

Celebrating Life

Ginny was impressed with the staff’s enthusiasm, as well as the ongoing activities.
“I like how the residents grow their own herbs in the atriums, and then the chef uses them when he cooks,” states Ginny. “They also celebrate every holiday. For instance, they had a big barbeque on the Fourth of July.”
Ginny also likes how the team at Symphony at St. Augustine is very attentive to residents’ needs.
“My mom requires a lot of assistance with daily activities, and they’re always right there when she needs something,” she says. “I like their attitude, and I love the interaction. I think that’s critical for this type of illness.
“As a nurse, I can tell you that memory loss is a very difficult process, and as a daughter, it’s difficult to deal with. I had no idea it could take such a toll on a family. I’m incredibly grateful to Symphony at St. Augustine. Thanks to them, I can sleep at night and know Mom is safe.”
Linda was impressed with the knowledge and patience of the staff at Symphony at St. Augustine. She’s looking forward to celebrating her mother’s big day with them and with her family.
“For Mom’s birthday, we’re getting the whole family here, to the extent we can – many live outside the area – to have a big party,” reports Linda. “Once a month, Symphony celebrates everybody’s birthday in that month.”
“This October, we’re going to have a community celebration for Cyrilla’s milestone birthday,” confirms Anna.
“One hundred is a big deal,” concludes Linda.

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    • Symphony at St. Augustine

      Symphony at St. Augustine is a world-class, memory care community nestled in a quietly convenient neighborhood near one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. Residents enjoy an unrivaled attention to detail that is evident in everything f... Read More