Understanding Alzheimer’s disease: An innovative, person-centered approach to care

This content is sponsored by Watermark Communities.

Alzheimer’s disease has been in the news lately. This past June, during Alzheimer’s Awareness month, the FDA approved the drug Aduhelm as a possible treatment for all patients. However, the FDA later narrowed the use, specifying it was to be prescribed to patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s. While the long-term efficacy and impact of Aduhelm are not yet known, the drug’s approval sparked hope among the many Americans affected by the disease with no known cure.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly common, the specifics ­– what it is and how to care for someone afflicted by the disease – are lesser known. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.”

Today, more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and over 11 million Americans care for someone with memory loss, outside of professional caregivers and nurses. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic increased Alzheimer’s and dementia-related deaths by 16%.

The scientific community continues to search for a cure and memory care experts in dedicated communities across the country are coming up with unique programming and innovative care to support people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Two of the nation’s leading senior living experts, Silverstone Senior Living and Watermark Retirement Communities, collaborated to bring a new approach to caring for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia by creating environments and programs that focus on engagement, wellness and individualized care.

“In addition to safe and professional care, families are looking for dynamic engagement and personalized understanding for their loved ones suffering with Alzheimer’s,” says Jonathan Garber, executive director of The Seneca, a Silverstone/Watermark community in Rockville, Maryland.  Garber has over 25 years of experience in the senior living industry and has seen an evolution toward person-centered care and customized programming that enriches the day-to-day lives of those with memory loss.

Silverstone & Watermark’s new collection of senior living communities in the D.C. metropolitan area in Rockville, Fairfax and Alexandria offer a full continuum of care, from assisted living to memory care as well as The Bridge, a living option for those with mild cognitive impairment.

All of Watermark’s memory care associates are Certified Dementia Practitioners, trained extensively on caring for and engaging with residents suffering from memory loss.

Watermark developed signature programs that celebrate what speaks to each individual. The popular Pantry Program provides residents with a custom pantry stocked with favorite foods, drinks, photographs and mementos that are always accessible. Associates are dedicated to getting to know each resident and finding ways to connect and encourage engagement. Recently, an associate found a device to tap out Morse code for a resident who was a war veteran and served abroad. Seeing and handling this device prompted him to share stories and memories.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. What begins as mild memory loss gradually decreases one’s ability to carry on a conversation or respond to environmental cues. If you begin to notice any of the below symptoms in yourself or a relative, schedule a time to speak with your doctor. As with any disease, early diagnosis is critical.

10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Change in mood and personality

Upon receiving a diagnosis from a doctor, a recommended next step is to explore care options, including living arrangements that provide dedicated support and assistance.

The Alzheimer’s Association website is a valuable source of information for anyone interested in learning more about the disease. The association also offers a 24/7 hotline that provides confidential support and education at 1.800.272.3900.

Learn more about The Élite Collection.

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