Staying independent with Memory Health

Created date

January 9th, 2017
Senior couple sitting on a bench.

The Memory Support program’s goal is to help keep seniors enjoy life and stay as independent as possible.

Erickson Living has developed a three-fold Memory Support approach that promotes an individual’s cognitive health and wellness no matter where they live in their Erickson Living community.

Memory Fitness highlights strategies to help individuals stay cognitively sharp, taking advantage of the community’s resources of fitness, dining, socialization, and brain-stimulating classes. Memory Health assists individuals who may have emerging concerns about memory, helping connect them to relevant resources. Memory Care provides supportive and safe care solutions to anyone in the middle or later stages of dementia. 

Each of the three elements of Memory Support has the same goal: keeping seniors as independent as possible. Every Erickson Living community member—whether living in an apartment home or a continuing-care neighborhood—can participate in Memory Support. 

How Memory Health works

Memory Health is a coordinated approach to the services for residents living independently who demonstrate signs of mild cognitive impairment, or who have a diagnosis of early dementia. The program has a variety of components that support resident care in independent living and provide family and caregiver education. 

These components are supported by experienced staff from many departments—social work, the medical center, the Intermissions Program, Memory Café, home support services, and outpatient rehabilitation. 

Social work professionals within Memory Health begin by assessing the needs of the community member and then offering and coordinating available services. The primary goal of the Memory Health team is to optimize a person’s functioning by finding a balance among needs, goals, resources, and the challenges in his or her environment.  

Erickson Living medical providers maintain a vital role in a comprehensive Memory Support program and are essential members of the interdisciplinary team. This compassionate, structured approach to care management of a resident with memory loss strives to maximize the individual’s daily life while honoring his or her personal wishes regarding care options.

The Intermissions Program is managed by devoted coordinators. The program is available during late morning and/or early afternoon hours. Intermissions provides lunch, group structured activities, opportunities for socialization, and respite time for care providers. 

The Memory Café provides a support group for community members with newly diagnosed or early-stage dementia to enable them to be successful in the independent living environment.  The group provides a safe, nonjudgmental environment to help people deal with the new diagnosis and potential feelings of isolation.  In addition to an educational component, the group allows residents to communicate with others who have similar experiences, sharing their coping skills and creating new social relationships. “I loved the Memory Café so much I didn’t want it to end,” says Eleanor, an Erickson Living resident. “It is a very helpful class and I looked forward to attending and participating each week.”

The home support program recognizes the importance of engaging community members in meaningful activities throughout their day. Assigned home support aides acknowledge the uniqueness of each resident and support their day through a resident-centered approach to the supportive services provided.

The outpatient rehabilitation program helps individuals use a strength-based approach to gain and maintain as much functional independence as possible. Upon referral to the rehabilitation program and after subsequent evaluation by the appropriate discipline, the Erickson Living model for rehabilitation services will encompass three stages of service called (E*C*E): Restore the resident to an optimal functional level by attempting to eliminate the impairments that are present. Train the resident and/or caregiver(s) to compensate for any remaining impairments as the disease progresses. Lastly, educate the resident and/or caregiver(s) on reducing excess disability and establishing a supportive, safe environment.

All aspects of the Memory Health program have one goal: to help people enjoy life and stay as independent as possible.