Memory care can present some of the most challenging situations in senior living. However, the experienced team members at The Legacy Willow Bend (LWB) understand how to work with people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our team embraces flexibility, patience, creativity and compassion, while staying positive and maintaining a sense of humor.
It’s important to keep in mind that we cannot change the person with dementia, and it can actually be detrimental to try to control or alter his or her behaviors, as this is often met with resistance and frustration.
Instead, the team members in LWB’s memory care neighborhood try to take many factors into account when dealing with challenging behaviors. For instance, many behavioral issues have a root in a medical situation – it’s possible the person is in pain or may be experiencing side effects of medications.
Let’s examine a few of the common behaviors associated with dementia and how The Legacy Willow Bend’s memory care team members helps with these issues.
People affected by dementia will sometimes walk about without any apparent purpose. However, it’s important to understand that they are most likely wandering for a reason. Common reasons include boredom, looking for “someone” or “something,” or trying to fulfill a personal need such as thirst or hunger.
Due to the level of engagement with team members and other residents, wandering is a fairly rare occurrence in LWB’s memory care neighborhood. If it does occur, memory care team members would immediately begin to softly reassure and redirect.
If a resident starts showing a pattern of restlessness or wandering, the memory care team members would put together and implement a resident-specific plan to assist.
Another common behavior is agitation. Agitation can include general irritability, sleeplessness, as well as verbal or physical aggression. These kinds of behaviors tend to progress as the dementia does, going from mild in the early stages to severe in the more advanced stages. Many things can trigger agitation, including fear, fatigue, or environmental factors. The most common cause of agitation is a lack of control or opportunity to make decisions.
One of the main ways that the memory care team at The Legacy reduces agitation in residents is by maintaining a routine. Team members also make sure that the rooms stay clean and uncluttered, which also helps to reduce noise that can trigger agitation.
Team members make sure that things like household objects and furniture stay in the same places in the residents’ rooms and display familiar objects and photographs to engender a sense of security and elicit pleasant memories.
Should a resident become agitated – perhaps there is an activity going on with more noise than normal – a team member would take the resident to a quieter area and offer other activities to engage in until the loud activity concluded. Since each resident and situation is unique, the community provides individualized care and interventions catered to the residents.
When a memory care resident suddenly becomes suspicious, jealous or accusatory, it’s important to not dismiss these feelings. Our team members understand that to the resident, the emotions feel very real to them, and it’s best not to argue or to disagree. This is just another facet of dementia, and it’s important to not take what they say personally.
Paranoia is often a symptom of an underlying physiological condition or illness. Team members would always alert the resident’s primary care provider to determine if the paranoia is caused by a treatable condition or illness.
Team members at LWB would deal with paranoia much in the same way as other behaviors. First and foremost, the team members would provide reassurance that the resident is safe, and practice redirection techniques until the episode passed.
Restlessness, agitation, disorientation, and other behavior often gets worse near the end of the day – sometimes continuing through the night. Experts believe this behavior, commonly referred to as sundowning, is caused by a combination of factors, including things such as lack of physical activity or changes in the person’s biological clock that cause them to confuse day and night.
Sundowning is another fairly rare behavior at LWB, mainly because memory care staff ensure that there are plenty of daily activities which involve physical exertion. When a resident does begin exhibiting signs of sundowning, team members provide reassurance and redirection, offering different activities and spending time with the resident until the episode resolves.
If it becomes a pattern, memory care team members may discourage that person from inactivity and napping during the day, as well as monitor their diet and limit sugar and caffeine near the end of the day.
In addition, The Legacy Willow Bend’s memory care neighborhood is equipped with special lighting programmed for brightness in the morning and gradually dimming throughout the day, mimicking the sun cycle. This allows residents to stay clued into the time of day even if it is cloudy or raining outside.
Ensuring that residents with dementia are eating right and staying hydrated presents its own challenges. It’s not uncommon for those living with dementia to literally forget to eat or drink, and the consequences of poor nutrition in older adults can lead to a host of problems, including weight loss, irritability, sleeplessness, bladder or bowel problems, and disorientation.
LWB combats this by bringing chef-prepared meals into a shared meal preparation and dining area that looks like an open kitchen. Residents can choose from a variety of nutritious food options, and the culinary team brings food from the main kitchen to the meal preparation area. This allows the sounds of preparation and the smells of freshly cooked food to stimulate the appetites of the residents in memory care.
Memory care also has a designated refreshment time every afternoon, and team members provide residents with drinks throughout the day to help them stay hydrated. There is also a hydration station where residents can enjoy fresh, fruit-infused water.
More on Memory Care at The Legacy Willow Bend
In The Legacy Willow Bend’s memory care neighborhood, our team members try to keep in mind that all behavior has a reason. Those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia often cannot tell us what they want or need. Fortunately, our high team member-to-resident ratio and the innovative design of our memory care neighborhood allows our team members to keep a close eye on residents.
The myriad of factors that influence troubling behaviors and the natural progression of the disease process means that solutions used today may need to be modified tomorrow – or may no longer work at all. The key to managing these difficult behaviors is being creative and flexible in your strategies to address a given issue.
The Legacy Midtown Park (a Rental Retirement Community opening in 2020 in Dallas) will also offer specialized memory care housing in a safe and secure setting for seniors touched with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
To learn more about memory care through The Legacy Willow Bend, call (972) 468-6208 or contact us online today.