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Together, the people, the place and the passion for providing an extraordinary, engaging life for our residents and the remarkable staff who serve them, are at the heart of what makes Ingleside at King Farm a very special place.

King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2020

How a memory care community can help your loved one stay engaged

One common but unfortunate misperception about those who live with Alzheimer’s is that they are no longer capable of appreciating an engaged life.

That is not only misguided, but the effects resulting from that belief can be detrimental to their health.

As human beings, we not only want but need connection with others. And it’s no different for those with dementia. By remaining engaged and having the opportunity to take part in social activities, their quality of life can be greatly improved.

The benefits of engagement

Those living with a cognitive illness are often at a disadvantage early on for engagement, as they may begin withdrawing from others themselves. And when the symptoms escalate, isolation may also. Fearing stigma from the diagnosis or embarrassment by their behavior, they may no longer want to take part in activities and will avoid social encounters.

But even as the disease continues, regular interaction remains important. Studies have shown it can have a positive influence on aggressive behavior, reduce depression and restlessness as well as increase opportunities to experience happiness and joy.

And there are other benefits for those with Alzheimer’s that remain engaged, including:

1. The promotion of better brain health

2. Improved focus

3. Increased expression of feelings

4. Reduction in feeling irritable and anxious

5. Increased feelings of belonging

6. Help in bringing a person into the present

Determining a baseline to foster engagement

The first step a community may take to make engagement with the resident more successful is to complete an assessment. To gain a better understanding of interests and abilities, asking about the individual’s life story provides a more accurate picture of preferences and capabilities.

The family plays a large role in helping the staff better understand what might work best, including the interests their loved one had in the past and what they enjoyed.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following assessment factors:

  • Capacity for physical movement

  • Capacity for mental stimulation

  • Interest in social interaction

  • A desire for spiritual participation and fulfillment

  • Cultural values and appreciation

  • Recreational interests and preferences

A memory community’s philosophy of engagement

For those families considering a memory care community for their loved one, it’s important to understand the role that engagement plays in the health and well-being of their residents. To be effective, communities must offer activities that are meaningful and not just fill the hours in a day.

Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

1. How will social engagement be included in the individual’s care plan? Effective engagement opportunities should go beyond the activity director and extend to all staff members trained to interact in ways that meet the resident’s needs.

2. Does the community offer planned interactions as well as encourage spontaneous moments during the resident’s everyday life? Staff sharing a comment about how the resident looks or something about their own life can make a big difference.

3. Is the staff trained to understand what times during the day a resident may be more anxious, frustrated or confused? How do they alter or adjust activities or interactions around those times?

4. How does the level of illness that the individual is experiencing make a difference between engagement that is enjoyable and frustrating? How do they know when and how to adjust an activity?

5. Can those who no longer verbally communicate still be engaged socially? Communities will know other options such as playing their favorite music, sitting with them quietly or encouraging other activities of interest.

6. Does everyone benefit from a group dynamic? Communities understand those who will thrive while others may be frustrated. They also should know how different individuals may be influenced by others' participation.

7. How is the resident encouraged to be a part of the community? One example could be asking residents to help decorate for a holiday instead of only watching, or helping set the tables for dinner.

Engagement activities offered at memory care communities

The Alzheimer’s Association points out that it’s important not to create activities that are done for or to the resident, but with. The following are examples of some of the activities or ideas that a community may offer to promote engagement:

1.  Encouraging them to take part in arts and crafts projects, if of interest.

2.  Reading from favorite books or authors with the individual.

3.  Looking through books with photographs or illustrations that depict past travels or hobbies they enjoyed.

4.  Helping them feel useful and encouraging them to contribute to community life in the way they are able.

5.  Acknowledging their past life. If they started their day with coffee and the daily newspaper, have someone read the paper with them every morning.

6.  Communities that have a garden area or can arrange for a visit to one may see a real spark in their residents who enjoyed nurturing the plants.

7.  Watching movies or family videos or listening to music they once enjoyed.

8.  Playing games or working together on a puzzle or other fun activities.

9.  Having conversations about past memories, trips and happy times.

10.Connecting with a family or community pet.

11.Taking a walk together and sharing in the beauty and calm of nature.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

At Ingleside, we place a priority on engaging with our residents and their families. We believe in a whole-person approach and our well-being philosophy ensures everyone is treated with the respect and autonomy that allows self-determination and choice. All of our staff members are trained to effectively and compassionately engage with our residents.

We encourage participation in meaningful activities. Along with our secure and sun-filled residences, we offer raised gardens, therapeutic programs including music, art, movement, pet and recreational therapies, social integration with the greater Ingleside community, 24/7 licensed nursing and a caring team educated in the best practices in dementia care.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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