Lincoln Senior Memory Care in November 2020
As we age, the likelihood of developing memory loss increases dramatically, with the mildest form being age-associated memory impairment, which is characterized by self-perception of memory loss and a declining score in objective memory performance compared with younger adults. All told, about 40% of Americans 65 and older—or about 16 million people—have age-associated memory impairment, and about 1% of them will progress to dementia annually.
Worldwide, about 50 million people have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. It is usually of a chronic or progressive nature that includes deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal aging. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, judgment, and language. According to the WHO, dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, estimated to represent 60%-70% of cases. There currently is no cure for dementia or treatments to alter its progressive course.
When a loved one begins to show early signs of memory loss—forgetfulness, losing track of the time, becoming lost in familiar places—it can create difficult questions for family members who wonder if it will progress, but when you see those early signs is a good time to start thinking about what you would do if the memory loss progressed. If it continues into middle and late stages, it can lead to caregiver stress and burnout and can make the need for senior memory-care services and facilities more urgent. Fortunately, Lincoln has a host of exemplary memory-care sites and services to guide you and your family through the process of determining how and where to best care for a loved one who’s suffering from memory loss or dementia, whether that means moving them into a care community or receiving treatment at home.
Oasis Senior Advisors Owner Beth Friesen (www.oasissenioradvisors.com) is a renowned specialist on dementia and the author of the Amazon Top 10 Bestseller, I Love Someone With Dementia…So Why Am I Losing My Mind? She is a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer and she and her partner, Tanya Godwin, are both Certified Dementia Practitioners. If you are witnessing signs of memory loss in a loved one, they can guide you to clear answers about what is going on.
“The book is a practical guide that starts with the first suspicions that something may be wrong and then sets out a comprehensive roadmap of what you can expect and how to prepare for what will come. At Oasis Senior Advisors, we also assist with helping folks locate the local resources they need—from support groups to day-stay services, in-home care, and memory-care communities. Our services are FREE, and we are here and ready to help from day one!”
According to a study conducted at Ohio State University, Beth said, caring for someone with dementia is equivalent to caring for someone with PTSD in terms of stress on the family caregiver.
“That is not to discount the seriousness of PTSD but to illustrate the huge stressor that is caring for someone with dementia,” Beth said. “As the dementia worsens, the caregivers find themselves increasingly isolated, which leads to physical and emotional stress that can, in turn, take a grave and sometimes deadly toll on the caregiver. You have to get help. If you don’t have more family nearby, join a support group. Get some help in the home so you can take care of yourself. It’s an absolute necessity if you are going to continue being a caregiver.”
If you have a loved one who is suffering memory loss or has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s time to get help. Oasis Senior Advisors are there to help you along the way and make sure that you never feel alone in your journey. Planning as early as possible will help you in ways beyond what you might be able to imagine now.
A Tour Guide for the Journey
It is always an emotional time, and sometimes frightening, when a loved one begins showing signs of memory loss or, worse yet, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In the beginning, you work with your loved one’s doctors to ensure they get the proper care and diagnosis, then often care for them on your own or by bringing a caregiver into their home, depending on the time and severity of their memory loss and behavioral changes. If the time comes that you need more help than that, where do you even begin? Where do you turn for help?
You can turn to CarePatrol (www.carepatrol.com), the nation’s largest senior-placement organization for everything from independent living to assisted living, memory care, and more. Their services are FREE, and they walk seniors and their families through every step of the journey. They start by getting to know each family through extensive discussions about needs, concerns, finances, and preferences. CarePatrol then narrows down the list of memory-care communities that best fit those needs, and walks you through the entire journey to select the perfect place.
“We get to know the family first before doing anything else,” said Omaha CarePatrol Franchise Owner Tom Hallman. “Once we meet the family, they are part of our family, not just throughout the selection process but even after they are placed, because we check in to make sure everything is going well after they’re relocated.”
Generally, Tom will go with families on tours of facilities once they narrow down the list. In COVID times, that means going on virtual tours with them, which isn’t quite the same but still provides the comfort of seeing their options up-close. CarePatrol has more than 150 franchises throughout the country, so even if your loved one is in another state, Tom can help gather information and get you connected with services in the area where your loved one wants to be.
Even if your family isn’t to the point of needing to move a loved one to a memory-care facility, it’s good to meet with CarePatrol on the tenet that ‘If that were to happen to dad or mom, what would we want?’ It’s also a good time to make sure that the senior has assigned Powers of Attorney for medical and financial purposes, so you don’t have to guess later what they might have wanted.
A Special, Safe Haven
CountryHouse Residences for Memory Care (www.countryhouse.net) is part of the Agemark family of senior-living communities, with three locations in Lincoln and 25 nationwide. Their philosophy revolves around creating and ensuring joy for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, while recognizing the difficult journey for everyone involved.
“Our view of those who have memory loss is that, if it comes with physical or cognitive challenges, they’re just challenges,” said COO Marty Hug. “We don’t see age. We don’t see challenges. We just see people. And all people want the same thing: to live a purposeful, well-lived life. So we focus on them individually and use our resources to give them a voice that’s heard. We help them to grow, to have fun, and to live the life they always wanted before their diagnosis.”
The community works closely with families to learn about what their loved one enjoyed doing before diagnosis and what they wanted to do later in life—then they tailor daily plans toward those things.
“We provide transportation beyond what many communities do,” Marty said. “Most companies will take residents to the doctor, dentist, or grocery store, but what we say is, ‘Tell us where you want to go—within reason, of course. Say someone went out for pie at a certain place every Tuesday. We’ll transport them to continue doing that. Or if they want to go to the zoo, or if they came from a farm and had a garden they want to visit, we’ll go out there with family and let them do some gardening. We also take residents to the YMCA to lift weights or swim, and we take them Christmas caroling, to do volunteer work at schools, and to the Humane Society. We want to provide those opportunities they always wanted irrelevant to the challenges.”
While we all have people we love and want to take care of, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, there may come a time when the needs of a person who has a disease are too much to for a family member to manage alone. If so, that’s when CountryHouse can step in. They work with families whose loved one may be in the early stages of memory loss, so they know what resources are available if and when they need them. CountryHouse also sponsors a regular family-support group—to learn about how to cope with cognitive memory loss when it involves someone you love—and participants do not have to know someone living there to participate.
“Our greatest goal is an effective treatment and cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Marty said. “Until then, we’re just going to love people and help them get through this challenging time.”
Facing the Challenges
COVID has brought new challenges to people living in memory-care communities, the main one being their lack of connection with family. That results in a far more difficult time transitioning from their families’ homes to even the best of care communities.
“Many families feel guilty placing their loved ones in memory-care communities even during the most optimal circumstances,” said Christy Merritt, executive director of The Waterford Communities (thewaterford.net). “Now, with COVID-19, things have become even more difficult. Families are not allowed to provide that extra care to help their loved ones transition with confidence. It is also difficult because many of the new residents who are coming to memory care are coming from the homes of their loved ones. Both resident and family have to adjust to a very abrupt change in daily routines as opposed to a more subtle transition period that includes frequent visitations as well as occasional outings to church and restaurants.”
The Waterford Communities are locally owned and operated and their team of professionals is committed to using their God-given talents and strengths to serve the needs of their residents. They created their Wilderness Hills Memory Care community to assist those struggling with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss, providing them with a safe facility and facilitating daily care.
“Our number-one goal is to make them feel safe and loved, and remain as independent as they can,” Christy said. “Our smaller-sized communities allow us to hone in and individualize care and activity plans to meet the needs of each resident, where they are in their own journey. Your loved ones won’t be treated like patients at Waterford. They are embraced and loved as part of the family. They are not our houseguests, but rather, we are theirs. This is their home, and it is our responsibility to ensure that irrespective of their challenges.”
Full Spectrum of Memory Care
Tabitha (www.tabitha.org) addresses the diverse needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia with a broad range of memory-care services within the Tabitha Senior Care Continuum. Their unified resource base and continuum continuity make it easier to adjust to each person’s changing needs.
“Tabitha offers a full suite of memory-care services to meet the needs of families and their loved ones,” said Tabitha Senior Living Advocate Aubrey Paulsen. “Tabitha Home Health Care provides customized medical assistance at home, including a variety of activities of daily living, such as medication management, bathing, and rehabilitation needs. If a caregiver or family member simply needs a break, respite care is available in all Tabitha living communities in Lincoln and Crete, providing a fully furnished suite, meals, social activities, and personal-care assistance for a short period of time.”
GracePointe by Tabitha, Assisted Living & Memory Care Suites, provides compassionate care with a maintenance-free lifestyle, leading-edge technology, and enriching activities focused on health and wellness. This allows older adults—including those experiencing dementia-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease—to enjoy all the richness of living in a safe and reliable environment that families can trust. It’s never too early to start planning for future needs.
Personal and Purposeful
At Legacy Retirement Communities (www.legacyretirement.com), the goal for memory-loss residents is to make their lives full of meaning and love. Legacy Arbors is a state-of-the-art memory-care community and is a unique assisted-living community designed specifically for individuals in need of memory-care support. Color and light combine to create a warm and inviting environment. They offer 32 private apartments in two wings, plus large dining rooms, activity rooms, and “Main Street,” which features an ice-cream and popcorn parlor, beauty and barber shop, and bird aviary. Legacy Arbors also includes an all-season sunroom and safe access to a large courtyard with walkways, patios, and beautiful landscaping.
“We recognize that those with memory loss have a lifetime of experiences and interests that continue to drive their life’s purpose,” said Legacy Executive Director Renee Pickerel. “Individual and group activities encourage residents to use current abilities and creativity while building relationships with others. We want their lives to be personal and purposeful.”
Toward their commitment to providing an exceptional memory-care experience for residents, Legacy Arbors has activity staff working seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and they provide extensive training to all staff in all departments. Through their specially designed environment, residents feel safe and at home. Daily exercises help resident maintain physical health, and innovative yoga classes help both mind and body, with table games, movies, and old-time TV shows providing additional enjoyment.
“With the certified dementia-care specialists at Legacy Arbors, you can be sure that you and your loved one have the highest quality of care and access to any resources you need,” Renee said. ‘We get to know the personal stories of your loved one, along with their preferences and interests in order to enhance and personalize their experiences.”
Home Care with a Personal Touch
If you have concerns about a loved one’s memory, Visiting Angels (www.visitingangels.com) Owner Natalie Leon recommends that you pay particular attention to these forms of memory loss: losing track of seasons, dates, and times; forgetting how to complete typical tasks; repeatedly missing appointments and events; confusing friends’ and loved ones’ names; and forgetting recent events but remembering past ones. As memory loss progresses, it can be more than a family can handle while also maintaining their own health and well-being. That’s where Visiting Angels comes in, bringing the assistance to your loved one at home.
“Through our dementia-care program, we provide assistance with a wide variety of needs,” Natalie said. “We assist our clients with personal tasks, provide comforting companionship, and offer helpful reminders when needed. Visiting Angels provides dementia-care services with activities including wandering prevention, walking assistance, transferring assistance, dignified bathing, dressing, and grooming care, medication reminders and monitoring, preparation of healthy meals, light housekeeping chores, and transportation to appointments and therapies.”
These services give family caregivers the relief they need to spend quality time with their loved one rather than stressing over the things that need to be done. A Daily Care Plan is instrumental in providing proper daily caregiving tasks. Such a plan will insure that your loved one will find success daily, especially as the dementia progresses. One of the benefits of a daily care plan is flexibility. The plan can be changed and updated as the disease changes.
“By choosing Visiting Angels for all your homecare needs, you will be met with a personalized approach to our homecare services, as we treat each client with the utmost respect as we establish a comprehensive care plan. Get started with our elder services today by giving us a call.”
A Homelike Atmosphere
Pemberly Place (www.pemberlyplace.com) provides care designed to meet and exceed the quality benchmarks set forth by the National Center for Assisted living, offering levels of care and service that are tailored to the individual lifestyles of those they serve. They are locally owned and have an on-site medical clinic to serve many healthcare needs in-house. Their mission is to provide a homelike atmosphere where residents receive 24-hour assistance with living.
“We spend lots of one-on-one time with the residents because they need the physical and emotional support,” said Memory Care Administrator Jolin Nguyen. “Our services here are to continuously work the residents’ minds with hand-eye coordination activities and brain-stimulation activities. We also have an on-site clinic and an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) that comes out weekly to assess our residents, as needed. The goal of Pemberly Place in working with memory-loss residents is to make them feel at home as much as possible. I want my residents to be able to trust me and all my staff. They deserve consistency. I want to be able to help as much as I can to help the Alzheimer’s Foundation to hopefully find a cure. Nobody deserves this disease.”
One of the unique options they offer to residents is their scratch kitchen, which involves all residents and lets them run a monthly competition on their own personal recipes they grew up with. Every month, a resident is chosen, and the kitchen makes their recipe and puts it on the daily special one week. It says a lot about the appreciation and respect they have for their residents.
Dignity in Life
Seniors facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia need a safe, nurturing environment. Sumner Place Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation (www.sumnerplacecare.com) focuses on the strengths of each memory-care resident by using their historical personal interests as a method of minimizing the difficulties associated with dementia-related symptoms, which could be as simple as giving a former painter a paintbrush. They also use “Buddies Forever,” which is a comprehensive dementia program that employs techniques and skills such as getting down below eye level, using simple statements, and endorphin boosts—to name a few—to create a foundation for person-centered care.
“Dementia can be a long and unforgiving journey for all who are involved,” said Sumner Place Admissions and Public Relations Coordinator Megan Herter. “It is impossible to truly understand the fear, confusion, and emotions that those who suffer from dementia with struggle with on a daily basis. Dementia does not just affect memory loss, but also the ability to communicate and understand what is going on in the world around them. At Sumner Place, we specialize in individualized programs designed to reduce feelings of confusion, fear, and agitation, and offer meaningful, enjoyable activities that stimulate the mind and body.”
Sumner Place also is certified in Music & Memory, a program that taps into the long-term memory—an area of the brain unharmed by dementia. Selecting the appropriate music for each resident triggers pleasurable emotions from their past. They work closely with residents’ families to figure out the genre of music they listened to in their peak years, as well as specific songs. Researchers have reported observations of participants in Music & Memory having elevated moods, higher levels of engagement, and positive environmental and facility cultural changes.
Focus on Quality of Life
Care Consultants for the Aging (careconsultants.com) also provides in-home services for elderly memory care. They refer Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) who are interviewed, screened, licensed, insured, and bonded to provide assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring/lifting, meal preparation/feeding, transportation, light housekeeping, companionship, and more.
“Our goal is to help them have a good quality of life, wherever they are in their journey, and provide a continued independent lifestyle,” said Client Care Coordinator Julie Benes. “They might just need a check-in and some companion care at the moment, but that could transition to daily needs, such as bathing, feeding, medication administration, and bathroom assistance. Family members frequently still work full-time or may have children or grandchildren they care for, as well. Sometimes the family lives out of town, and caring for their loved one is not an option. We can provide for daily needs and report to the family directly after a visit.”
If you think your loved one might be experiencing memory loss beyond normal aging, watch for signs of symptoms including confusion, poor judgment, problems speaking or writing, not taking medications, not changing clothes daily, or showering on a daily basis, not eating regularly or nutritiously, experiencing mood changes, or withdrawing from things they usually enjoy. While Care Consultants is generally equipped to get caregiver visits scheduled quickly, it is best to plan ahead if you suspect the need is arising.
Compassionate, Individualized Care
Lancaster Rehabilitation Center (lancasterrc.com) offers another tremendous long-term memory-care option. Their team of compassionate professionals is focused on common goals to meet residents’ needs, making a positive difference, promoting independence, enhancing quality of life, and providing the safety and security you expect. Lancaster’s services don’t end with their residents, either. They are equally dedicated to helping your family stay healthy and involved in your loved one’s life.
“Lancaster has dedicated an entire wing for memory care with safety and security as a top priority, all while providing access to a secure outdoor courtyard and garden that provides an exceptional view for the residents to enjoy,” said Business Development Director Darcee Fricke. “The activity programs are designed specifically to meet the cognitive needs of each resident and provide cultural, recreational, educational, and social interaction to help engage body, mind, and spirit.”
Lancaster is Nebraska’s largest skilled-nursing facility that serves both short- and long-term residents. This beautiful facility includes spacious rooms, 24-hour skilled nursing care, on-site physician services and dietitians, individualize activities programs, a beauty and barber shop, podiatry and optometry care, spiritual services, a library, theater, cable television, and free wireless internet access.
Nurturing the Nurturers
Home Care Partners of Nebraska (www.homecarepartnersofnebraska.com) offers customized, person-centered care, education, and support for families of a loved one with dementia who is still able to live at home. They are a premier local choice for non-medical home care that creates a culture of caring to serve seniors. Their caregiver services—including things like sanitizing, cleaning and maintaining the house, coordinating appointments, exercising, medication management, and driving—help improve quality of life for seniors and provide peace of mind for families. Care partner services combined with Care Management can have a profoundly positive effect on the physical and emotional health of informal caregivers (such as family, friends, neighbors, and volunteers) who might otherwise encounter burnout or compassion fatigue.
“Caring day in and day out for loved ones can make you vulnerable to compassion fatigue, which is the emotional, physical, and spiritual apathy that results from the constant demands of caring for others,” said Home Care Partners Certified Dementia Practitioner Karla Frese.
Compassion fatigue has been described as ‘running on empty’ and happens when informal caregivers, including family, friends, neighbors, and volunteers, focus on meeting the physical and emotional needs of their loved ones at the expense of their own. It is important for these informal caregivers to recognize ‘when it all becomes too much’ and it is time to reach out for help. Tolerating it or bottling up their feelings can have dire consequences on their health and well-being, and that of their loved one.
“Placing your needs last can cause an imbalance between activities that nourish you and those that deplete your strength,” Karla said. “Combine that with a pandemic, isolation, stress, and personal problems, and the vulnerability compounds. Life-balance can be found with the support of a team, and our care management. Recognize the signs of compassion fatigue and reach out for help. Remember that self-care habits include good nutrition, sleep, daily practice of relaxation, and nurturing activities. Making your own health and well-being a priority enables you to continue caring and embrace your role as a wife, husband, daughter, son, friend, etc. with compassion and empathy.”
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are life-changing for patients and their families. Thankfully, if you have a loved one who is suffering memory loss, you have the full spectrum of care available right here in Lincoln. If you have any concerns about a loved one’s memory loss, contact some of these providers as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.