Memory care. Dementia care. Alzheimer’s care. Although the monikers used by senior living operators may vary, the goal of these programs remains the same: to deliver the best possible care to those facing dementia-related challenges.

By all accounts, it’s a huge and growing task. More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia today, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. By 2060, the figure is projected to surpass 14 million. For perspective, that’s more people than now live in all but four states.

Among the 30,000 or so senior living communities currently nationwide, most deliver care to adults with cognition deficits. For some firms, such as Silverado, memory care is all they do. More typical are settings where a separate wing or floor caters to those with dementia.

For virtually all services and programs, sparking engagement is key. As to how that is being done, a better question might be this: What’s not being done?

Consider: The organization Laughter on Call matches comedians with dementia and others with Alzheimer’s. The group also offers laughter workshops and live comedy shows at senior living organizations. 

Assisted living operators took an early lead in dementia-related services and programming. In fact, it is one of the reasons skilled care lost so many private-pay residents. But skilled care is getting involved here as well.

HCR ManorCare was one of the first skilled care providers to address this audience by establishing Arden Courts memory care communities more than a quarter century ago. Arden Courts since has provided care to more than 40,000 residents.

At the Pine Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Stevensville, MI,  Activity Leader Ronda Holmes now uses the Montessori method of teaching to change the way the nursing center’s residents with dementia interact with their environment. The activities stimulate memories and movements they need in their day-to-day, such as feeding or dressing themselves. Other communities have begun using doll therapy, offering dolls to people living with dementia as a way to improve comfort and engagement. 

As demand for services that drive engagement grows, it’s a safe bet that new options will engage.

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