Memory care facilities design their communities to ease patients’ anxiety
A loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia, is a traumatic experience for anyone to go through, as is the idea that the loved one’s needs might be more than family and friends can handle.
The decision to place someone with dementia into a memory care community isn’t an easy one, but it might help to know that, quite often, these communities are designed down to the very smallest detail to make their residents feel as comfortable and anxiety-free as possible.
And that’s not just a matter of providing top-notch care; in some communities, even the buildings themselves are designed to help Alzheimer’s sufferers feel less anxious or confused.
Take Hilltop of Greenville Memory Care on Pelham Road for example. It’s what’s called a “standalone memory care community” and takes a comprehensive approach to caring for its residents, right down to the walls.
“At Hilltop, our community is purposely designed,” says Nick Jasmon of American Healthcare Management Group, the company that manages Hilltop of Greenville. “Every turn, every corner, everything hung on the walls, even the handrails were designed to provide the best and the utmost care for our residents.”
Yes, even the handrails can reduce mental and emotional stress on residents with dementia, as can the hallway design. “We try to eliminate dead ends and create a destination at every corner,” Jasmon adds.
“If you want to talk about the handrails, there are three different styles of grip depending on how far the disease has progressed,” Jasmon says. “And if you look down our hallways, you’ll see that the pictures are cut off of in the middle. And that’s because if residents with various forms of dementia look down a hallway, sometimes they think the wall is the end of it; that there’s not a turn. The pictures are hung so you can’t see the full picture, so they know that there’s a turn.”
The concept of designing a community to serve the emotional needs of residents with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia is not a new one, and in Hilltop of Greenville’s case, experience has been the best teacher.
“We’ve actually been blessed,” Jasmon says. “Our group has been doing this for almost 17 years, so we have a lot of experience operating these communities and working with them hand in hand. We also work with architectural firms who source different kinds of studies showing what scientists and researchers have found to be best. So we have a lot of different partners that we are working with.”
Jasmon says everything from meal planning to activity time is designed to keep memory care community residents as calm and happy as possible. Not just for them, but for their families as well.
“I work a lot with our salespeople,” he says, “and I never tell them to go and sell anything. I want them to build relationships with family members, because we’re helping them navigate the hardest decision they’re going to make in their lifetime. Our residents aren’t numbers or revenue or expenses. They are people; they have stories. It’s not only about taking care of them but learning who they are and sharing their stories and passing them along.”