Sparkling Gem

Resident’s dementia improves with personalized care.

Like a diamond, there are many facets to Paul Agan’s life. The Elmira, New York native is a veteran of the US Air Force who made a post-service career working at AT&T®. He’s an electronics guy and a handyman, and he loves to stay active. Fishing is one of his favorite pastimes. When this diamond started to dull, it was difficult for his family to watch.

Lulu Agan discusses her father, Paul Agan’s experiences as a resident at Grace Manor Port Orange, an assisted living and memory care community.

The intimate setting at Grace Manor has proved to be a perfect fit for Paul.

“We first noticed that something was going on with Dad in 2015,” remembers Lulu Agan, Paul’s daughter. “He began behaving in ways that were out of character for him. He started getting lost and confused about where he was. He was always losing things, like his keys. These changes sent up some red flags.

“That’s when we had Dad tested, and the results showed he had lower moderate dementia. At first, he was able to continue living at home with my mom. When he started forgetting to take his pills, we arranged for part-time home care for him, which turned into daily care.

“Dad’s condition progressed and he became more disoriented, so we decided, and Dad agreed, it was time for assisted living. My project was to find the right place for him.”

Lulu took her responsibility to heart and assessed every assisted living facility in the area. After she completed her evaluations, one facility was at the top of her list: Grace Manor Port Orange. Grace Manor is an assisted living and memory care community that provides specialized care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“I knew Grace Manor was the right place because it was smaller than the others and more intimate,” she explains. “Also, I went there unannounced about eleven times at various times of day, and I could see that the staff really cared about the residents.

“I was nervous about Dad’s reaction to Grace Manor. I knew in his mind he thought he was going to a nursing home; but when he walked into Grace Manor, he was ecstatic. He loved it immediately. He couldn’t believe a place like Grace Manor existed.”

It took no time for Paul to feel at home at Grace Manor. From the moment he arrived, he began making friends and participating in the activities offered by the community.

“My Dad is super social,” describes Lulu. “He makes a point to talk to everybody, help them and get them on the dance floor when there’s music. He’s very active and social at the community, and he’s having fun.

“There are four guys he hangs out with, but there’s one guy in particular, John, that he hangs out with most. They always encourage each other to do things, like go out into the courtyard and take walks. John’s also a veteran, so he and my dad have bonded.”

Life Enrichment

Dedicated to Grace Manor residents is a team of specially trained resident assistants. Members of this team use various methods to align themselves with whatever the resident is experiencing in the moment. The goal is to help the resident struggling with the effects of dementia to feel calm, reassured and not so alone.

“Grace Manor is a step between our resident’s family home and a full-time nursing facility,” notes Danielle Ashby, president of Grace Manor. “We’re here for individuals with memory issues who need specialized care and can no longer be at home. We provide the caring assistance they require so they can live as independently as possible.

“In addition, Grace Manor has a life-enrichment program for its memory care residents. The program offers specific activities that cater to those with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. As part of the program, the staff works with residents on a variety of sensory activities.”

Shadow boxes displayed outside their suites are a personal touch for residents with memory issues. These memory boxes are filled with photos and mementos that have personal significance for the resident. For residents with memory impairments, the boxes also help them locate their suites.

Not only do the memory boxes help the residents, they also give the staff a wider perspective about the people they’re 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,” explains Danielle. “We want to remember to see them as more than just our residents. The staff gets a little bit of insight about who they are and the things they accomplished when they were younger.

“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. It’s a memory box, so people include the things that mean something to them. One man has a medal from his time in the Army in his.”

Family Away from Family

When Paul first walked into Grace Manor, he was thrilled by what he experienced. Since that day, he’s made friends, engaged in activities and generally flourished as a resident. As Lulu points out, this diamond is sparkling again.

“Dad loves it at Grace Manor,” she enthuses. “It’s amazing, and since he’s been there, he’s doing much better.

“For one thing, the staff follows a very consistent schedule. They feed Dad on schedule and give him his pills on schedule. He’s also being very physically active, having fun and acting social. Because of all that, his dementia has significantly improved. It’s unbelievable, and he’s only been there since December.”

The improvement in her father’s condition isn’t the only reason Lulu is happy with Grace Manor. She’s also grateful for the personalized treatment he receives from the nurses and staff who care for him each day. She believes they go above and beyond to make her father feel comfortable and at home.

“I’m beyond satisfied with Grace Manor,” Lulu states. “The staff is great. Dad has a very good relationship with everybody on the staff. He jokes around with them and knows all of them by name.

“The support the Grace Manor Port Orange staff gives my father is amazing, especially the support they provided to him after my mom passed away two months ago. They are truly a family away from family.”

Grace Manor was a good choice for Lulu and Paul for another reason as well. Lulu points out that theirs is a family in which all of the children live out of town, away from their father. It’s important to them to be sure they’ve selected a memory care facility that meets their father’s physical, mental and emotional needs.

“Knowing Dad’s in an awesome environment, he’s thriving and his brain is getting better gives us huge peace of mind,” she relates. “It’s something other families looking to make the assisted living decision should consider. I wish I made it earlier because I think my mom would have thrived at Grace Manor, as well.

“I want to tell others looking for assisted living for a parent, if you find the right facility, such as Grace Manor Port Orange, there’s nothing to fear.”

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