Understanding Alzheimer’s care. What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, an irreversible and progressive disease that impairs memory, behavior and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease is marked by a buildup of protein plaques in the brain and brain cells that become tangled and misshapen. These tangles and plaques cause brain cells to die. Over time, the brain shrinks and the patient’s need for quality care increases proportionately.
Whom Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect?
While Alzheimer’s primarily affects men and women over age 65, an early-onset form of the disease can affect much younger individuals, including those in their 40s and 50s.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that accounts for up to 75% of dementia cases. It starts with memory loss and subtle changes to personality and can progress to destroying the brain’s ability to keep the body functioning. The most commonly accepted model of Alzheimer’s disease includes five stages:
- Stage I – Preclinical Alzheimer’s: This stage can begin years before disease symptoms become readily apparent. During this stage, the brain begins to develop changes that are the first indication of Alzheimer’s.
- Stage II – Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): At this stage, people may have difficulty remembering conversations or recent events, and judgment begins to become impaired.
- Stage III- Mild dementia: Symptoms include continued loss of memory, difficulty with complex tasks and personality changes.
- Stage IV – Moderate dementia: Performing regular tasks like personal care activities becomes difficult or impossible, and significant changes in behavior and personality occur.
- Stage V – Severe dementia: Patients lose the ability to communicate clearly and physical impairment may be significant and include visual and auditory processing, task sequencing, verbal processing, swallowing and more. Eventually, the disease destroys the brain’s ability to keep the body functioning.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you know how devastating it can be to watch them try to cope and adjust each day. You also know how challenging it can become to provide them with the care they need, especially as the disease progresses and their needs become more persistent.
Why Emerson House?
“We structure care specifically to a resident’s needs and level of memory loss,” says Julia Arnold, Emerson House’s Director of Health Services and an RN. Arnold has worked in the health care industry for over 20 years and sees some notable differences in the Emerson House approach.
“What sets Emerson House apart are the three levels of memory care living we offer as well as the staff and their dedication to the residents,” says Arnold. “Over a fourth of our employees have completed six or more years of service. “We’re like family here,” says Gordana Hrvic, Resident Service Coordinator, who has been with Emerson House since its opening. “The layout (our circular floor plan) is safe for our residents,” said medication aide Thelma Horner, who has worked at Emerson House for over six years. “They can get around without getting lost. It’s easier for staff too because they’re not walking long hallways to get to someone who needs assistance.”
This person-centered approach carries over to the care plan that is developed for each resident based on their life and experiences. “This helps us maintain dignity for all residents throughout their journey,” Arnold says. Resident family members are also involved, to help provide additional support and input in personalizing each plan.
Why Emerson House?
The primary mission of Emerson House is to provide a place where residents may live fully with dignity. Our staff work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, following Emerson House’s philosophy to help each person be as independent as possible for a long as possible. Our four progressive levels of care and three residential environments ensure that each person gets the appropriate amount of assistance with their daily living and medical needs, and our person-centered approach to care means that all services are delivered in a manner that respects the individual’s relationships, life experiences, abilities and preferences.
This person-centered approach to care carries over to activities at Emerson House. Emerson House residents enjoy activities for body, mind and spirit including outings, walks around the neighborhood, exercise, games, discussions, gardening, art, music, pet visits and social events to name just a few. Because contributing to a community has been a part of so many residents’ lives, they are encouraged to participate in any way that they are able. This may be as simple as helping set the table for family style meals, folding laundry or working in the gardens.
Assessment Ensures the Right Fit
The best way to evaluate a Portland Alzheimer’s Care facility is to make a visit.
Once you’ve seen Emerson House and want to move forward with moving in, we will schedule an in-person assessment of your loved one. Julia Arnold, our RN, will met with your loved one at your home (or wherever they are currently) to determine the best residential environment within our community and the appropriate level of care for your loved one’s needs.