At Anthem Memory Care communities, we constantly seek opportunities to bring school children through our doors to meet and get to know our residents. Recently, Vineyard Place Memory Care in Murrieta, California invited a group of local pre-schoolers to join their residents in creating and decorating holiday crafts. And, while the holidays are officially over, the program lives on. Why? Because bringing those with dementia together with others, especially young people, provides an opportunity to engage and socialize, something that has proven to have a positive effect, not only on the residents, but on the staff and the visitors.
It is true that, in most cases, the residents will not remember the specifics of these visit. However, that’s not necessarily the purpose. Rather, it is to provide quality “present moment” experiences for residents. As Vineyard Place’s Life Engagement Director, Cody Kohlhagen, remarked in an interview with My Valley News, which covered the event, “For our residents with Alzheimer’s dementia we try to create moments of joy. Because for some of my residents, 10 minutes after these kids leave they’re not going to remember they were here, but being able to show them that craft that they made and show them the pictures that we take of what they’re doing with these kids, will help remind them.”
Ultimately, the quality of life for those challenged by dementia is measured in moments that bring them a feeling of joy and peace. And, at Vineyard Place, the best days for residents are those which they declare as having been “good” days. As Cody Kohlhagen noted in his interview, “This feeling that they get will stay with them,” he said. “So even thought they won’t remember what they did maybe an hour ago, they’ll still say, ‘It’s a good day. I don’t really know what I’ve done today but it’s been a good day.’”
For those with loved ones struggling with dementia, those special moments you share together can have a lasting impact – for both of you! Therefore, it is important to make sure your loved one is surrounding by people who are dedicated to creating an environment that enriches the moments of their daily lives. Because, while the details of those moments may be forgotten, the feeling of joy lives on.