Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Memory Care

by Mary Keen

CJE provides care for people in all stages of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias including Frontotemporal Dementia, Primary Progressive Aphasia, and Vascular Dementia.According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 to 80 percent of reported cases. Throughout CJE’s continuum of Alzheimer’s and dementia care is a commitment to person-centered care; staff is trained to focus on the individual and not the disease.

CJE SeniorLife’s Adult Day Services (ADS) is a non-residential program that provides stimulation, socialization and structured programs in a secured environment. The program is offered at sites in Evanston, Deerfield and Chicago. The goal of CJE’s ADS program is to maximize the potential of each participant, many with some form of dementia, helping to improve his or her quality of life. In turn, caregivers receive a much-needed respite.

CJE SeniorLife’s award-winning Culture Bus™ travels to a variety of cultural events, offering older adults in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of early-stage dementia a unique opportunity for stimulation, education and recreation through art, drama, history, music, dance, architecture and more. Culture Bus is one of only a handful of programs like it in the country.

The Friend Center at the Weinberg Community for Senior Living (Deerfield) provides assisted living for those with early to mid-stage dementia. The Alzheimer Special Care Unit at Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation (Skokie) is for those who would benefit from more advanced skilled nursing care.

At The Friend Center, an array of programs engage the residents cognitively and emotionally, taking into consideration their individual interests. Residents have the opportunity to participate in activities such as Shabbat services, baking, musical programs, creative arts, poker, exercise, sing-a-longs, and iPad classes. Residents who never knew how to bake or never had an interest in playing cards are able to participate and learn.

CJE also uses the arts to draw people out in incredibly powerful and meaningful ways. The extensive Creative Arts Therapy program is provided by certified art therapists and music therapists.

Examples of Creative Arts Therapy groups include a drum group, various art therapy classes, and a sensory engagement group for more advanced-stage dementia. In working with individuals, CJE staff promotes an emphasis on reminiscence, not memory recall:staff will ask questions about the recent past and about history and ask residents to respond. CJE staff also facilitates Time Slips, a picture-based creative storytelling group which encourages members to engage and relate with others via discussion over a single image. (More on Creative Arts Therapy, p. 9)

From pet therapy, to making scarves, to submitting artwork to art shows, residents have many opportunities to stay active and engaged in life.

As a final note, let’s not forget that the family members and friends caring for individuals with dementia need support as well. CJE SeniorLife provides support groups for caregivers where they can connect with others experiencing the same challenges, find ways to cope, and remind one another that they are not alone in this journey.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of LIFE, CJE SeniorLife's quarterly magazine.