Transforming Memory Care in Dracut

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The Reflections Memory Care Program opened at The Arbors in Dracut in September of 2017. “Dracut was an underserved market that has experienced a lot of growth over the last 10 years. Dracut did not have an assisted living residence in town and we felt like The Arbors was a perfect match,” says Jason Robertson, Principal at The Arbors. “The town was very supportive and our development has led to two additional adjacent developments that should compliment our business. A medical office subsidiary of Lowell General Hospital as well as a new skilled nursing facility.”

Memory care is a type of long-term care that specifically caters to those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other forms of chronic memory loss.

Kimberly Stout, The Arbors at Dracut’s Reflections Memory Program Director, quickly sought the opportunity to join the Dracut team and brought with her over 10 years of senior living experience, as well as her own personal life experiences caring for someone with dementia.

“I used to go to work with Grandmother who was a registered nurse at the nursing home she worked in and fell in love with it. My grandmother also had Alzheimer’s. I remember her asking what time of day it was multiple times, yelling as we’d try to encourage her to take a shower, or resisting to change her clothes even though you could notice a smell. It’s not an easy disease as it progresses, and it can really take a toll on families.”

Everyday Adventures Outside of the Reflections Community

While some communities hesitate to take memory loss residents on outings, the Arbors encourages it.  Residents have enjoyed going out to lunch at their favorite restaurants, as well as taking scenic rides to developments they grew up in. “The residents like that they are able to point out how things have changed as we drive through their old neighborhoods. And if they think of something they want to see on the way, they direct you ‘oh you should turn here, there’s a park, or school or church right down the road’”, says Stout.

The outings create the kind of experiences you can’t re-create in a community setting. “We had a 91-year-old resident who decided she wanted to go down the slide at the park. She followed a kid up the ladder and went right down the slide,” said Stout. “I send texts or emails with pictures to the families who are so grateful they don’t have to worry about their parent being isolated and unable to fully live life.”

“A lot of people think of a secured memory care unit as ‘my loved one is going to be stuck there’.  That’s not the truth.  We leave the secured memory care at least once a day. Whether it’s for walking club, social hour with assisted living residents, or a bus tour, we make it a point to.”

A Quality, Purposeful, Intentional Activities Program

The memory care program was built by creating quality, purposeful, and intentional activities and programs that see beyond the disease or illness.

“We try as much as possible to give residents a chance to use their special skills.  Some of our ladies that like to knit and crochet are working on hats for Lowell General Hospital. Some have even started teaching some of the younger staff members how to knit,” says Stout.

Residents are encouraged to participate in activities they enjoy, regardless of their abilities.  “We strive to be ‘failure free’. It doesn’t really matter if it’s done right, if we move the pieces the right way, or play the game exactly the way it was meant to be played as long as we create a safe, loving environment where they can thrive as an individual.”

Arbors’ person-centered philosophy starts with getting to know each new resident very well. “My favorite part of my job is an initial interview where I can sit down and ask them questions like where did they work, how many kids did they have, or where did they travel to,” says Stout.

Resident interviews are within two weeks of moving into the community, with a follow up interview one month after the resident has been living at the community.  From there, a spreadsheet is used to track resident interests which are reviewed every quarter.  “The entire calendar is created based on resident interests.”

Aromatherapy to Compliment Dracut’s Person-Centered Approach to Care

The person-centered approach to care also carries over into Dracut’s approach to helping residents navigate “the tough days”. A blend of aroma therapy, quiet places to allow residents the opportunity to express themselves, and guided conversations to reach the deeper emotion or need they are looking to be met are used.

Stout uses diffusers to fill rooms with different scents. “We use peppermint to help a tired resident wake on a dreary day. We can also use Lavender, which has a calming effect on a day where a resident might be more restless than usual,” says Stout.

Learn More About Our Reflections Program

The Reflections Program at The Arbors in Dracut is designed to keep your loved one engaged and active in a safe, homelike environment. At The Arbors, we promote the highest quality of life by adapting our staff, environment and daily routine to the needs of each individual regardless of their level of memory loss.

The Arbors is dedicated to meeting those needs by offering structured daily programs, dementia-friendly dining and supervised outings as well as assistance with daily personal care, hygiene and medications.

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