New Mind & Memory Care Neighborhood at Meadow Ridge
More than 55 million people worldwide live with dementia and Alzheimer’s. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, that number will increase to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million by 2050.
Those numbers illustrate the increasing need for compassionate and effective care for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. At Meadow Ridge in Redding, Connecticut, we built our award-winning Mind & Memory Care neighborhood with the unique needs of our residents in mind.
How Is Alzheimer’s Different from Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for specific symptoms, including difficulty with memory, language, problem-solving and other brain skills. There are several causes of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is just one of them.
Alzheimer’s, like all forms of dementia, is a heartbreaking disease that can take its toll on families as they watch the person they know and love slowly disappear. Many caregivers are family members who, due to the demands of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, are at greater risk for anxiety, depression and isolation.
The good news is that breakthroughs in understanding dementia can help communities like Meadow Ridge deliver exceptional care to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s, as well as their families and caregivers.
Individualized Care Plans for Dementia Residents
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to care for those with dementia. At Meadow Ridge, a continuing care retirement community, we take a holistic approach to care, addressing each resident’s needs and creating a unique plan to meet them.
The Mind & Memory Care neighborhood was built specifically for those with dementia, and the building’s features include carefully planned lighting, flooring, wayfinding color selection and interactive stations for residents.
During a recent interview with WICC 600 radio, Meadow Ridge’s Executive Director, Chris Barstein, emphasized, “There is a lot of research that goes into understanding what kind of environment is going to be best suited for those living with dementia.” Meadow Ridge applied this research when developing the new neighborhood, incorporating elements such as a bright environment with lighting and color choices that aid in wayfinding. These thoughtful design choices have a significant effect on someone who lives with dementia.
Another environmental concern is “sundowning”—when a Mind & Memory Care resident loses energy or becomes confused or agitated as daylight starts to fade. By keeping the community’s interior relatively bright and well lit, associates can help mitigate the effects of sundowning.
Even the dining room presents an opportunity to help residents be successful. Since red is a color known to stimulate appetite, we have red plates and cups to help residents meet their nutritional needs.
Keeping Residents Engaged and Secure
Many residents cannot verbally express what they want or how they feel, so we train care partners to recognize behavioral expressions to understand what a resident is trying to communicate.
Visual clues around the neighborhood help residents focus, and care partners provide engaging activities based on what is meaningful to each resident.
“Often, our residents can become agitated, fixated or distracted,” says Barstein. “Typical ways of intervening with someone who has dementia don’t always work, so we try to redirect their attention to something else they may be interested in—treasure chests filled with personal memories, a writing station so they can sit down and write to a family member, even an aquarium with colorful fish inside.”
Barstein advises family members to accept that Alzheimer’s and other dementias don’t disappear and to expect the disease to progress. Coping with a dementia diagnosis can be more comfortable by learning more about the disease to understand where a loved one is in its progression and meeting them there.
“While you can’t bring their memory back, the power of human connection can transform lives at every stage,” says Barstein. “That’s a core belief at Meadow Ridge.”