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Creating Best in Class Memory Support Services to Enhance Quality of Life

posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Cottages

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 70,000 Iowans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, that number is expected to reach 77,000--with an estimated 78 percent of people in long-term care having some level of cognitive impairment.

As a leader in health and well-being services for older adults in Iowa and western Illinois, WesleyLife launched an initiative to define, develop and implement a best-in class memory support program in late 2012.

“We knew even before starting that the passion and dedication of team members working with memory support residents was amazing,” says Nancy VanWyk, registered nurse and Certified Dementia Practitioner at Hearthstone.

One important result of the initiative was a commitment to finding new ways to ease distress for residents experiencing dementia. While psychoactive medications are widely used in the United States to manage these behaviors, research shows the drugs can have major side effects, including drowsiness and decreased alertness.

For many, drugs may set off a "domino effect." People who sleep more tend to be less physically active and participate in fewer social interactions, situations that can lead to a loss of independence. Drug-related dizziness and confusion also can create balance issues, including falls.The combination of increased falls, social withdrawal, and decreased ability to manage daily living activities could even lead a person to require more care.

“We’ve seen a decrease in the use of psychoactive drugs among memory support residents, and we’re seeing an increase in physical activity among those residents,” VanWyk says. "This is extremely important as it restores independence and maintains—or even improves—the mind, body and spirit of residents, ultimately enhancing their daily life and relationships with family and friends.”

This initiative was identified by work teams involving more than 30 team members representing all WesleyLife communities. The group identified nine areas of opportunity to enhance the quality of life of older adults with memory loss. Other recommendations included:

  • Increasing educational opportunities for team members, physicians, and the general public;
  • Increasing volunteer engagement with residents
  • Creating stimulating brain fitness programming

The recommendations were implemented in all communities to encouraging results. To learn more, contact the WesleyLife community nearest you, or call us at (515) 978-2777.

Brain Health Program Expands Statewide

As part of the initiative, WesleyLife sought opportunities to increase stimulating brain fitness programming. WesleyLife was awarded a Quality Improvement Initiative grant from the Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME), to expand the use of Dakim BrainFitness from one WesleyLife community to all. Dakim BrainFitness is a scientifically based, structured brain-training program that crosstrains the brain in six essential cognitive domains to improve memory now and protect brain health long-term. It can help revitalize mental acuity and has been shown in a clinical trial to improve memory and strengthen attention, focus, and concentration.

While the Dakim technology was received warmly by residents and team members, an unexpected and positive surprise has been residents' improved participation in other social programs.

“What we’ve witnessed at The Village is residents who typically didn’t join in conversation or social programming before using Dakim are now participating in other programming,” Gay Puthoff, Resident Life Coordinator at The Village in indianola, says. “Dakim also gives us another way to learn about the resident and connect with him or her.” 

  1. alzheimer's disease
  2. brain fitness
  3. leadingage
  4. memory care
  5. memory support
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