WesleyLife Best in Class Memory Support Services
Creating Best-in-Class Memory Support Services to Enhance Quality of Life
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as of 2019, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 14 million. Every 65 seconds, someone develops the disease, which kills more people each year than breast and prostate cancers combined.
As a leader in health and well-being services for older persons throughout Iowa, WesleyLife launched an initiative to define, develop and implement a best-in-class memory support program.
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 U.S. to manage these behaviors, research shows these 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 have less physical activity and fewer social interactions, which leads to a loss of independence and human contact. Drug-related dizziness and confusion can also 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.
This initiative involved more than 30 team members representing all WesleyLife communities working together to agree on improvement opportunities. The group identified nine areas of opportunity to enhance the quality of life of older persons with memory loss. Some of the recommendations included: increasing educational opportunities for team members, physicians and general public;increasing volunteer engagement with residents; and creating stimulating brain fitness programming. The recommendations have been implemented in all WesleyLife communities.
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 to expand the use of Dakim BrainFitness from one WesleyLife community to all seven.
Dakim BrainFitness is a scientifically based, structured brain-training program that cross-trains 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 is being warmly received by residents and team members, a small unexpected and positive surprise has been the increased participation in other social programs by residents.
“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,” says Gay Puthoff, Resident Life coordinator at The Village. “Dakim also gives us another way to learn about the resident and connect with him or her.”
Visit the Dakim website for more information about this technology.
Excellence in Care Dementia Program of Distinction Status
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) announced that Heritage House, a WesleyLife Community for Healthy Living located in Atlantic, Iowa, had achieved AFA’s “Excellence in Care® Dementia Program of Distinction” status for its specialized memory care program. Heritage House was the first organization in Iowa to achieve this prestigious status.
The Cottages of Hearthstone in Pella, also received its Excellence in Care Dementia Program of Distinction status.
Excellence in Care is the first national program involving comprehensive standards, onsite evaluation and consultation to promote continual performance improvement for dementia care settings, such as assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, adult day centers and adult day healthcare programs, and continuum of care residential communities.