Re-envisioning ‘Home’ for Patients with Dementia

~ by Carol Vartuli

“I want to go home.”  That’s a common plea from people with advancing dementia. Family members often take it literally, and try to convince Mom that she is indeed at home, or in a hospital, or visiting elsewhere. They’re responding to a seemingly logical question with a logical explanation.

The answer rarely suffices, however, because Mom or Dad is using the word home in a figurative sense. They are yearning to return to the people they used to be.

As Alzheimer’s and dementia continue to increase at an alarming pace, Music & Memory Programfamilies are struggling to find the right care, at each stage of the disease.

Spouses and adult children need the help and guidance of professionals, but they would prefer their loved one to be in a loving, non-sterile environment. When family is around and involved, care at  home might be best. Other times, a person with dementia who is alone most of the time, with just an aide, might benefit from a more social environment.

In the early stages of dementia, it’s important for the individual to continue to do as much as possible for themselves, for as long as possible, in a safe environment.  Regular social contacts enhance the feeling of being who they still are.

The Osborn offers a unique living solution for people with early-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is called H.O.P.E, because it merges the elements of a Home environment, with large doses of Optimism, Passion and Empathy.

Entering the H.O.P.E. Center for Memory Care is like walking into a friend’s house, where the kitchen is the heart of the home. Warm wood cabinets and spacious granite countertops beckon to anyone who associates comfort with food and family.  A large basket of apples sits on the center island.  Residents regularly participate in cooking and baking here.

Residents and their family members gather in the adjoining Great Room, complete with fireplace and overstuffed chairs.  It’s a typical family room, where people play games or join group activities led by a recreation therapist. Or they just chat with friends.

In addition to these core rooms, residents enjoy a sunroom that overlooks a large, enclosed garden, where they can safely enjoy being outside.  The center also has a large arts activity room, and a private dining room where families can gather with their loved one for celebratory occasions.  Each of the 13 residents has a private bedroom and bath.

While the Home component is immediately apparent, the staff of the H.O.P.E. Center embodies the elements of Optimism, Passion and Empathy. As Brittaney Jones-Alleyne, Supervisor of Residential Services explains, “We try to learn as much as we can about each resident—who they are, what they have done in their lives, and what they enjoy.”

Each resident has a shadowbox case outside their bedroom doors, filled with memorabilia. Brittaney points out one that contains an old black and white photo in a silver frame, a notebook, and other small mementos. “This woman was a professor at a prestigious university.

“Knowing each resident’s identity is a reminder to all of us that our residents have had lives and identities that are fading from them. They deserve continuing dignity and respect.”

For more information about dementia care at The Osborn, call 888-9-OSBORN.

The Osborn   |   101 Theall Road   |   Rye, NY 10580   |   914-925-8000

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