By Sue Sveum
Those with dementia enjoy the familiar — and tend to function better when kept to a routine schedule. With that in mind, Renaissance Senior Living of Hilldale utilizes a dementia-specific enrichment program called a Purposeful Day to enhance the daily lives of residents.
“Daily activities are designed to meet residents’ social, spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional needs,” explains Executive Director Jamison Toepel. “They become familiar with the same schedule each day — which helps to reduce agitation and frustration in memory care residents.”
Years of research and planning, alongside experts in the field of dementia, went into creating the community’s memory care neighborhood. “Over- all, the atmosphere and programming in The Harbor were designed to encourage non-medicated therapies for our residents,” says Toepel. “We use reminiscent therapy, music therapy, circadian rhythm lighting and much more, to help maintain a calming environment.”
Residents can take part in large and small group activities, as well as meeting one-on-one with team members. They can also attend chapel services, music activities and other special events. Happenings are customized based on residents’ former lifestyles and occupations — often leading to discussions and stories that are extremely meaningful to them. And, participation is a great way to socialize with other residents.
“A lot of times finding what works is really trial and error,” says Toepel. “Music therapy, for instance, has been shown to decrease agitation — as well as bring back enjoyable memories for our residents.” He adds that the wants and needs of someone living with memory loss can and will change rapidly, so by tracking participation, they can determine other activities that meet the needs of more residents.
The Power of Pets
One highlight at Renaissance Senior Living of Hilldale is having volunteers bring in pets — ranging from dogs to zoo animals.
Therapy dogs stop by on a regular basis — with residents, families and staff all looking forward to their visits. These furry visitors often trigger memories from the past — and get residents talking about pets they had growing up or as adults.
“The best part is the energy that’s in the building when these pets come to visit,” says Executive Director Jamison Toepel. “We see so many smiles and hear so much laughing when residents get a little puppy smooch.”