As one ages, the inability to recall information is both common and somewhat disconcerting. “Where did the television remote go?” might simply be a frustration. However, it can also be a symptom of something more serious, especially when mom calls you at work claiming, “The plumber stole my remote.” Nagging questions such as “Did dad take his meds?” and “Did mom remember to turn off the stove?” are health and safety issues that cause family and friends to wonder when, and where, should we go for advice?
The National Institutes for Health (see chart below) provides a helpful chart to help differentiate between memory impairment that is common with aging verses dementia (which is not a normal part of aging) or Alzheimer’s.
To serve those with dementia or other memory issues, Baptist Homes & Healthcare Ministries provides Inclusive Memory Care. Five principles guide the Baptist Homes Inclusive Memory Care service to those with memory issues:
1. The Baptist Homes believes all people – including older adults with dementia – have value as Children of God and should be treated with respect. (Psalm 139:14-16, Psalm 71:9; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18). Forgetfulness and memory loss do not invalidate a person’s value. Dementia does not remove the wisdom and insight gained through living and loving.
2. TBH believes that older adults with dementia need and deserve love, acceptance, understanding, and respect. (Proverbs 23:22; Proverbs 16:31). Staff are trained to approach residents in a way that is respectful, gentle, and non-threatening to gain trust and cooperation. Staff are further encouraged to focus on feelings, emotions, and memories rather than the harshness of present-day reality.
3. TBH believes that older adults with dementia can be cared for in a physically and emotionally safe environment without being secured on a locked unit. No one, except criminals, deserve to be locked away. Residents who are assessed as being a potential elopement risk are provided a monitoring device that alerts the staff when they are near, or go through, an open external exit. Residents who insist on “leaving” are accompanied by a staff person to ensure their safety, and then safely and gently brought back in the building.
4. TBH believes that older adults with dementia should be fully engaged and have freedom of movement, based on their ability and interests. Isolating residents from normal everyday stimulation that is familiar is detrimental to mental and emotional health. Socially stimulating residents maintains a higher level of functioning. Assuming residents with dementia cannot contribute to or participate in social situations or some decision-making activities disregards their sense of autonomy and self-worth.
5. TBH believes other residents who may be uncomfortable around those with dementia can be assimilated into the culture of inclusion (vs. exclusion) thus promoting a positive and loving community environment. Residents are educated via modeling from the staff who have been trained in dementia care. Oriented residents are provided training on how to approach and to relate to residents with dementia.
If your loved one is experiencing memory impairment, take a deep breath, pray, then give us a call. We will joyfully help you navigate this season of life no matter what option of care you choose. To get more information, go to https://thebaptisthome.org/contactus/.