Memory Care Communities Take New Approaches to Caregiving

Author: Michele Trice

| Published on: September,28 | Viewed: 3206 times


Research is showing that engaging the senses for individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s produces significantly positive results. In response, there is a new wave of memory care communities that are working sensory activities into their resident activities.

The Research

There’s a reason you see teenagers with ear buds in their ears all the time. Music has the power to connect with your emotions and make you feel less alone. Whether the individual is 17 or 75, music can be a powerful force for good.

Linda Maguire, lead author of a recent study, noted, “Musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.” The study observed the cognitive abilities of moderate to severe dementia sufferers and the effects of singing in group music sessions.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America encourages the use of music with individuals who are dealing with the disease. “When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.”

Art also has the ability to allow individuals to move beyond their current place and time to another, more peaceful place of their choosing. “Roadblocks to verbal communication laid by dementia are bypassed through the artistic process, and individuals can express themselves through the art,” Dr. Daniel Potts said. “Concentration and attention improves, and patients are often easier to care for even when the therapy is over.”

Potts founded Cognitive Dynamics after his father’s death in 2007. His father was a saw miller who displayed no artistic ability prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s. The watercolors he painted in his later years at an adult care community are now quite well known.

The Communities

A sample day at Memory Care Living in Ramsey, New Jersey, might include a relaxing concert, a sing along and a movie night featuring films from decades gone by. This community uses what they term a TOUCH system to engage residents seven days a week to give a sense of consistency and balance to their lives.

The TOUCH program is based upon five core areas:

  • Creative and expressive

  • Physical

  • Social

  • Cognitive

  • Spiritual and emotional

Sparking creativity is one of the key components of the TOUCH program.

Villagio at Capriana Oakmont Memory Care in Brea, Calif., makes a special effort to provide a variety options around the common areas for sensory stimulation. Music coves are strategically placed for residents to listen to stations playing familiar music, while outdoor garden areas provide natural settings for relaxation and socialization. The community invites residents to gather in the movie theater to watch old favorites. The experience provides stimulation of memory with sights, sounds and smells as the popcorn is popped.

For those individuals who may be dealing with early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s and may not need to live in an memory care community, there are other options. People who wish to live in an independent living community with 24-hour nursing care available will find that Rose Villa in Portland is a community providing many interesting options.

Not only do they offer a fully staffed health center, but they also offer therapy animals, music therapy and horticultural therapy as well. Residents participate in the horticultural therapy by tending the 2.5-acre community garden that provides fresh foods for the dining areas of the community. This and other sensory-based activities help residents with memory care needs enjoy a better quality of life.

A New Approach

If you’re looking for a memory care community for a loved one, consider one that is using some of these new methods to help keep residents active and engaged.


For more information on memory care and caregiving, visit the Seniorly Resource Center. To find a memory care community for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia, start your search online today with Seniorly! 

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