Apr 8, 2015

Do Alzheimer's Patients Benefit from a Community of Care?

After nearly 10 years in Supported Living, Mom was slipping further and further away—less verbal, less engaged, less active and increasingly a source of disruption to her neighbors. In consultation with the staff, we made the decision to move Mom into Memory Care.

Do Alzheimer's Patients Benefit from a Community of Care?

One could see this as unbearably sad—the irrevocable final stop, a recognition that her decline was accelerating and the end—if not near—was certainly closer.

But, as in so many things, Mom defied expectations, confounding our fears and enabling us to see life from a different perspective.

By Marilyn Raichle
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The night of the move she was understandably bewildered and I feared the worst. But when I arrived the next morning, I found her to be more verbal and more engaged than she had been for months. She talked about her parents and sister Louise, about her grandmother, about visiting the beach, where she and Dad built a house and lived for many happy years.

She made jokes. “You know, in two years I will be an old lady.” (She just turned 96.) Then she looked at me and grinned, “And soon you will be an old lady too.”

She wondered about the future. “I want to see what it will be like in two years.”

We sang and as the sun streamed in though her big picture window, she declared, for the first time in a very long time, “Everything is just delightful.”

I don’t pretend to know how to account for this. Maybe it was the view in her new room or the sunlight but I am convinced that part of the answer lies in the extraordinary community of care that exists in both Supported Living and Memory care.

Every single member of the staff—nurses, social workers, activity directors, environmental and dietary staff—is dedicated to the enrichment and support of the precious people in their care. And in Memory Care that level of care is even greater.

So thanks to these wonderful people and Mom’s indomitable spirit, the move to memory care is not a cause for sadness—it’s another fascinating stage in the remarkable journey of life.

*Marilyn Raichle writes at The Art of Alzheimer’s – How Mother Forgot Nearly Everything and Began to Paint  — a blog about her mother Jean whose glorious art illuminates a simple truth —  those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are still here — living lives of dignity, creativity and joy. Marilyn is currently developing an art exhibit: Changing the Way We Think about Alzheimer’s — One Painting at a Time.

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