Daily Living at Evergreen Cottages
Taking Their Walk
There is no typical day for a person with Alzheimer’s or other related dementia. Each Day is different for each resident. Sometimes seniors wake up and start the morning out cheerful and happy. A short time later, this feeling of being on top of the world can quickly turn into a state of Confusion, Anxiety, mental agitation, disorientation or even depressed behavior.
The ravages of dementia play havoc on the mind. We can make a difference if we align our expectations with the needs of our Residents.
There are however activities and programs that are proven to increase well-being and possibly even help seniors to flourish.Each individual is unique and so is their dementia. Residents with Frontal Lobe Dementia may respond differently to those with Dementia with Lewy Bodies or Alzheimer’s Disease while yet other people with Dementia related to Traumatic Brain Injuries may respond differently to those with Dementia related to Old Age.It is important to understand these different types of dementia in order to effectively manage the ups and downs of a Senior Living Community residents day, while bringing Comfort and Joy together with Loving Care into their Daily Lives.
At Evergreen Cottages, it is our goal to understand the Individual that is trapped inside the uncooperative body and draw out the best in each resident each and every day. Some of the Methods we use to achieve this balance and feeling of comfort and safety for seniors are listed below. This is only a Sample of the techniques we employ. We evolve these techniques as Science and Dementia Research point us in ever evolving directions.
Some of the Methods Listed here are discussed in more detail below
- Routines: Provide a sense of well-being and safety
- Tasks: Give a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of purpose
- Physical Activity: Physical Activity has benefits on so many levels
- Pets, Music, Art, Gardening, and Massage: These are just a few of our therapeutic activities that nourish and enrich
- Community and Family events: Create strong bonds and a feeling of belonging
- Loving Care: Has no substitute
- Keeping a Routine: Routines: Provide a sense of well-being and safety.
- Tasks for Engagement Tasks: Give a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of purpose
- Physical Activity Physical Activity: Physical Activity has benefits on so many levels
- Pet Therapy Pets bring joy and comfort
- Music and Art Music Therapy and Art bring joy to the mind and soul
- Gardening and Massage Gardening, and Massage: These are just a few of our therapeutic activities that nourish and enrich
- Community and Family Community and Family events: Create strong bonds and a feeling of belonging
- Volunteers and Children Seniors have a lot of patience with children
- Loving Care Loving Care: Has no substitute
Between waking up in the morning and going to bed at night, there are about 12 hours available for seniors to Engage, Participate and Socialise. How these 12 hours are spent may make a tremendous difference to a person's Mental and Physical well being.
For someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, a daily routine plays an extremely important role in their wellness. The daily rhythm brings order to an otherwise dis-order of the mind.
While living at home with our families, we are engaged in tasks. Some are small like taking out the trash or clearing the table and washing the dishes or doing laundry. Other tasks are much bigger like cutting the grass or pruning bushes. All these tasks played a role in molding our minds and body.
For Seniors especially those in a larger residential care community or assisted living facility, the opportunity to carry out tasks and maintain a sense of self worth through accomplishment is often taken away from them. Kitchens are run by cooks on a commercial scale and dining halls are run by armies of servers and table bussers as if in a restaurant.
Being a smaller Memory Care and Assisted Living community, Evergreen Cottages can and do create a homely atmosphere where residents are encouraged to participate in daily routines like folding linens and preparing cutlery, pulling weeds in the vegetable patch or even helping to put away puzzles, art supplies and games after activity time is over. All these details help instill a sense of belonging, high self esteem and a feeling of Purpose.
“Movement is Life” and a “Healthy Body makes for a Healthy Mind” we all grew up with this advice and it rings true as you grow older and realize that the Body does not like to cooperate if it's allowed to remain in slumber for too long. This rings especially true for people with Dementia. Losing the cognitive ability to determine when it’s time to exercise, the types of activity that are appropriate for aging seniors and indeed for how long an older adult should be active are all important aspects that play into their wellbeing.
Having a Planned approach to physical activities that are age appropriate, fun and of a duration suitable for our older adults in our care are all part of our wellness plan.
Tai Chi, Chair Yoga and Breathing exercises are activities enjoyed by our residents daily. Carried out by our Caregivers and by visiting specialists, these activities get endorphins activated helping our residents stay alert, nimble and happy.
The warm touch of a pet is soothing and calming for anyone who has cared to pay attention to the effects the presence of a pet brings. Interaction with small dogs, cats and even rabbits can be joyous to seniors as they express their natural caring and loving towards the pets.
The warmth of a dog sitting on your lap and the purring of a kitten as you stroke its back relieve stress. We encourage family members to bring their well behaved pets to visit. They are always a joy for our residents.
Research shows that Music is one of the most powerful memory boosters. In some cultures large amounts of book learning is done by Memorization and repetition, it is always accompanied by a Rhyme or set to a rhythm. This is especially true where ancient texts were handed down by Oral tradition from one generation to the next.
Songs and Music incorporated into Residents daily lives, can help boost the mood of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias. This is most noticeable with Music from their younger years. Memories are evoked, foot tapping, singing and even dancing are commonly noticeable.We use Music as a Therapy for wellness and happiness by making it a part of our daily routine.
Art and Color are stimulants for the brain, bringing out creativity and a sense of happiness. Holding a paintbrush or coloring between the lines can be particularly challenging for people with cognitive impairments. Words of encouragement and a Non judgemental approach go a long way to continued participation in these valuable activities.
Craft work, making paper flowers, hearts, ribbons, wreaths, origami and simple projects that coincide with the holidays, Valentines Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Veterans day as well as Birthdays or Anniversaries all go a long way to help residents keep the connection between Shapes, Textures and Colors that are synonymous with those holidays and celebrations. Art and Craft, Music and dance are valuable activities for people with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
The sense of Touch informs our brain about the nature of the objects coming into contact with the skin. It is indisputable that the comfort and sense of hope that come from plants that begin to grow from a small seed, then flourish into trees or flowers have a profound effect on the mind and body.
Participation in Growing vegetables and herbs in the community garden is one great way to bring this valuable feeling into their lives. Nurturing the gardens with water and pulling up the weeds and finally harvesting the crop of fresh produce brings joy to the residents and has the effect of growth in their minds.
Gardening and Massage have a similar effect. The Sense of touch is engaged and stimulated. Residents who participate in these activities often appear more relaxed and fulfilled, while their Dementia appears to take a small step backwards.
An old African Proverb says “ It takes a Village” While this saying refers to raising a Child, much the same is true when it comes to caring for our Parents. Our Mom or Dad with dementia are often thought of as going through a second childhood.
Community events where family and Friends gather to celebrate life and special occasions are so important in keeping family ties and nurturing strong bonds. We keep this as a central guiding principle when planning Family events.
Traditional Family holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are celebrated in advance of the actual holiday. This allows Family to gather at the cottage and take part in the community Dinner. This opens an opportunity for the family to take their loved one home on the Actual Holiday for their private family gathering if they so wish. Evergreen Cottages has a second celebration with Residents, Caregivers and Staff at the community on the actual day of the Holiday. This we believe is important to strengthen family and community bonds and helps nurture our residents wellbeing.
Children have a special Innocence which is so valuable when interacting in a Multi-Generational setting. Their unfiltered articulation and incessant questioning and most importantly, their Unconditional Love, particularly towards their Grandma and Grandpa bring a warm and refreshing change to a seniors day.
Seniors in turn have a vast amount of patience and of course their unconditional love of their children and grandchildren even when the seniors themselves are dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Their fond memories are rekindled through these interactions with visiting Children.
We make a deliberate effort to nurture our Residents' ongoing interactions with children and young adults by inviting Scout Troops, School Choirs and Church groups to volunteer and spend a few hours a week with our residents, Playing Music, Reading aloud, Doing Crafts and bringing cheer and joy to their lives.
How do we do it? We seek out caregivers who “Have a Heart”. Passion Caring for seniors is not something that can be taught. Nor should anyone attempt to Teach “Loving Care” Empathy and the love and respect for seniors is inculcated at an early stage of life. The little Girl or little Boy who grows up knowing they want to be a Nurse is motivated by only One passion. “The Passion to Serve” These souls have a heart of gold. It is our role to seek out these special Souls and enable them to do that which comes naturally from their heart. “Loving Care.”
Loving Care needs an enabling environment. A team of dedicated professionals to design buildings that are “enabling” designed with the resident in Mind. Then equipping these buildings with Amenities and furnishings to bring out the best in people. And after putting the best hand picked caregivers in place, Train them well and step out of the way and see how their light will shine with “ Loving Care”.
We accomplish these activities and tasks each day by “Taking their Walk” – being with them throughout their journey, every step of the way. As such, we know their likes and preferences, their abilities, and know when they’re having a good day. We adjust our schedule to meet them where they are.
If you’d like to see a sample day click here >