Everyone is unique, and the care professionals in the Memory Care Unit of Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso’s can attest. Keeping this in mind, they take extra measures to ensure each resident feels at home and is cared for well, taking into account all that is necessary to make life in the memory care unit meaningful and fulfilling.
Upon moving a loved one into the memory care unit, each resident’s family completes a profile that lists details of the resident’s life, including where they were born and grew up, any pets they may have had, the careers they pursued, which organizations they were a part of, and what hobbies they enjoy. All of this information helps the staff make that extra connection with the resident, and tailor care and activities to what they hold dear and familiar.
“The beauty of the profile is that it starts from the resident’s childhood and goes through their life until right now,” said Kelli Krusinger, memory care director at Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso. “With dementia, sometimes they will revert back to a younger point in their life, so this helps us to know where they are and allows us to continue the conversation with them. That lets them know that there is someone who knows them, somebody is talking to them about things that they know.”
The staff also receives a profile that describes the resident’s daily schedule that they are used to, ensuring a smooth transition and a sense of familiarity.
“This lets us know what their normal day looks like. We don’t want to change their routine, we want to adjust to their routine. We want to keep life as even-keeled as they’ve always had and keep them comfortable,” Krusinger said.
This individualized care is so important, especially for those in memory care who are dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The additional information helps the staff keep them engaged, calm, and comfortable.
“By knowing what they used to enjoy doing, we can gear activities toward things that we know they would enjoy and that will spark their interest,” Krusinger said.
Krusinger and her team will even group individuals with like-minded hobbies or backgrounds at mealtimes so they can make connections with each other.
“It’s so important for them to stay as social as they can, form friendships, and feel that they’re at home,” she said.
Family members can be comforted that a skilled staff has their loved one’s interests at heart.
“We are spending some of their final years with them and they’ve lived these huge lives, so if we can make a small amount of impact, that really matters,” said Kaela McDaniel, recreation and events coordinator. “We try to make every day special and important.”
To best serve the residents in the memory care unit at Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso, the staff is continually learning and taking advantage of new information and skills. With the emphatic support of their executive director, ongoing training and education is a priority. This year, five of the staff will be attending Certified Dementia Practitioner training to learn more about providing the best possible care.
“The more staff you can have that understand more practices, especially new information, the better,” Krusinger said.
Another unique aspect of the care at Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso is the dedicated memory care staff. About 80 to 90 percent of the staff who work in the memory care unit work solely in that unit, giving the residents a familiar face and being an extra set of eyes to ensure that residents are staying happy and healthy.
“Familiar staff is so important both from a resident’s point of view and from the team’s point of view. Working together, they get a great routine, they know each other, and the residents recognize them, trust them, and they know them by face. It is so much more comfortable for the residents and helps them feel safe and well-cared for,” Krusinger said. “A calm environment and working together well as a team puts the residents at ease.”
Whether it’s singing songs, baking, taking day trips when the weather permits, or taking part in activities—like the project where they recently photographed each residents’ hands and told the stories of what those hands accomplished in life—the residents at Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso are given the individualized and quality care needed to keep them happy, calm, and loved.
For more information on Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso, visit their website https://www.rittenhousevillages.com/senior-living/in/valparaiso/rittenhouse-village-at-valparaiso/.