A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease or dementia is life changing for seniors and their families. The cognitive impairments associated with these disorders — including problems with memory, language, judgement, sleep and mood — can be difficult to understand and manage. In a reversal of roles, you may find yourself worrying about your parent's ability to safely and independently care for themselves, especially as the disease progresses.
While there are currently no cures for Parkinson's disease or dementia, research shows that taking full advantage of available treatments and therapies can alleviate some symptoms and greatly improve quality of life. Specialized memory care communities can help seniors with Parkinson's or dementia continue to live with purpose, joy connection and dignity in a number of different ways.
1.) Specially Designed Apartments
As Parkinson's disease and dementia progress, a person's abilities change. Memory care environments are creatively adapted to safely support these changes while maintaining a senior's sense of independence. For example, floors, walls and chairs may be covered in contrasting colors to make it easier for them to see. Signs with simple instructions may be posted to help seniors complete tasks or remind them where to go.
Memory care communities are often clustered into neighborhoods or villages where seniors can move about safely and freely from their apartments to social common areas, such as an activity room or outdoor patio. These smaller, secured environments encourage social interaction and belonging and empower seniors with motor or memory limitations to live up to their potential.
2.) Compassionately Trained Caregivers
By definition, assisted living exists to aid seniors with the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, taking medication and housekeeping. Extensively trained staff in a specialized memory care community recognize seniors with Parkinson's disease or dementia as unique individuals who deserve compassion and respect. They get to personally know each resident's life story and tailor a care plan to meet each person's specific needs. This is particularly important for seniors with progressive diseases as their abilities and interests constantly evolve.
Nurses and aides in a specialized memory care unit are trained to calmly intervene with some of the most common behavioral challenges of Parkinson's disease and dementia, such as anxiety, repetitive questions or sun downing. Training of our caregivers can even include virtual reality tours, simulating what it's like to live with cognitive impairment. This insight helps staff empathize and become trusted allies.
3.) Wellness Programs
Innovative memory care communities recognize the unique spiritual, physical, intellectual, cultural and emotional needs of residents with motor or memory limiting disorders. With opportunities for social interaction centered around possibility and choice, seniors can find moments of joy and connection by participating in a fitness class, attending religious services, painting, cooking or spending the afternoon in a beautifully manicured garden with friends.
Research shows a positive correlation between social interaction and health, especially for those with age-related disorders. Music, for example, has a profound effect on seniors with memory loss. Even those who have lost language or the physical ability to participate in activities they previously enjoyed respond positively to concerts or music programs with their favorite songs or genres. While loneliness is a risk factor for high blood pressure and depression, active engagement has been shown to elevate mood, improve sleep, reduce pain and even reduce falls.
4.) Peace of Mind for Everyone
Above all, opting for an innovating memory care community means your parents have access to a professional, caring staff at a secure, but homelike, environment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The calm but engaging structure, compassionate caregivers and social engagement opportunities are all key to creating days with bright, happy moments for seniors diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or dementia. Specialized memory care communities see seniors for what they can accomplish, not for what they can no longer do.
At Brightview Senior Living we work with the Alzheimer's Association, prominent research universities and leaders in the health care field to integrate the most up-to-date therapies into our programs for seniors with Parkinson's disease or dementia. To learn more about how our Wellspring Village® memory care assisted living communities enrich lives, schedule a personal visit today.