Engagement and Person-Directed Care
Dementia is only part of a person’s identity. The core is their unique self, remaining abilities, life experiences and relationships. Person-directed care means our staff combines an understanding of who residents and program participants were before dementia impacted their current skills, interests and preferences. The focus is on what they can do now rather than lost abilities. Specifically, daily life activities (such as eating, bathing and sleeping) occur according to each individual’s preferences, not predetermined schedules or care partner convenience.
The Abe’s Garden Memory Support Center of Excellence offers a variety of intentional engagement opportunities seven days a week, from morning to evening. The opportunities are based on the interests of residents and program participants, utilizing remaining abilities with consideration of reduced attention spans.
Freedom of Choice
Our individualized programming fosters freedom of choice and is purposeful and reflective of activities that residents participated in during earlier parts of their lives.
I’m Still Here®
Our Abe’s Garden Memory Support Center of Excellence has adopted The Hearthstone Institute’s I’m Still Here® philosophy, which enables engagement at all stages of cognitive and physical health. Clubs, classes and committees that reflect residents’ interests are integrated into the community’s activities plan. For example, residents may choose to participate in or lead a cooking class, join the choir, or assume a leadership role in the resident newsletter or volunteer service committees.
Activities and Programs
At Abe’s Garden Community, we promote engagement activities and programs in the following categories:
Art increases the ability for self-expression and communication. Creative expression is known to help reduce stress, fear and anxiety, improve mood, and decrease agitation and outbursts of those living with dementia. Art may also serve as an alternate channel of communication to express thoughts and feelings, especially when seniors have impaired language abilities and are unable to verbalize their feelings. Abe’s Garden Memory Support Center of Excellence values these benefits and integrates art in group and one-to-one engagement activities each week.
Connection to Nature
The intentionally scaled and landscaped central courtyard features an interactive water feature, fireplace, nature discovery area, raised garden beds, covered walking path, and outdoor kitchen and grill. The therapeutic benefits of connecting to nature are abundant, and this purposefully designed outdoor space provides:
- Gardening opportunities
- The health benefits of sunlight
- Exposure to the unique sights, sounds and smells of nature
- Exercise opportunities
- A sense of freedom and independence
Exercise and Movement
Physical activity and exercise have been found to reduce depression, enhance mental alertness, and improve physical function in people with dementia. Movement is also the basis of all nonverbal communication and becomes a primary source for self-expression as verbal communication decreases. Abe’s Garden Memory Support residents are offered daily structured exercise programs and outdoor walks, and are encouraged to use the NuStep recumbent elliptical machine for strength and endurance training.
From drum circle to choir club, dance parties and much more, residents are often found gleefully participating in a musical activity of singing along to a live performance.
Abe’s Garden Community is a clinical practicum site for Belmont University’s Music Therapy Program, which allows us to educate and train music therapists specifically in improving the lives of older adults. We are also working with the Kim & Glen Campbell Foundation in a mutual pursuit to provide a dedicated, controlled environment for music research, engagement and therapy. Our joint goal with this initiative is to create groundbreaking research that better understands the effects of music on the brain, especially in recalling memories, improving mood, and encouraging meaningful engagement.
Research has demonstrated that animal-assisted therapy increases engagement and decreases the frequency of agitation in individuals with dementia. The daily presence of a dog or a cat can evoke positive memories and encourage the joy that humans experience from leaning on, hugging and petting animals. Many of our residents and program participants had a pet at one time in their life, and memory support at Abe’s Garden Community encourages a similar bond in this stage of life. Therefore, pets are an important component of the engagement program. Each week, we offer pet therapy with visiting certified dogs and cats. Our beloved resident pets include a cat, numerous birds and fish, as well as a handful of robotic pets.