In 2021, The Ohio Masonic Home communities began using a program that is designed for each person “to connect where they are now with the realities from their past.” This method of care has shown success for those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This multidimensional approach to care and services leads to a satisfying quality of life for our community members. They engage in meaningful programs, such as hobbies and social activities, that connect with events of the past. Health related empowerment, confidence, and purpose in life are also promoted.
This process of connecting to a person’s realities is a person centered approach. It focuses on the abilities, needs, interests, and strengths of elders with dementia in a supportive environment. It can identify where the person with Alzheimer’s is “living” at that moment and help them to become better engaged with those around them, including staff and family, leading to a better quality of life.
The approach features “life stations,” which support individuals by placing needed memory, visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory cues in the environment. This provides useful cues and allows for attention to activities that are personally relevant to the community members. These life stations include the Men’s Workshop, Music & Art Room, Exercise Room, Laundry Station, Office Area, Reading Nook, and Flower Station.
The proof of the success of connecting where the community members are now with the realities from their past comes from testimonials by family members.
A community member who has a background as a schoolteacher was also a driver’s education instructor. The staff was aware of his background. When going on an outing, the community member was placed behind the driver. During the trip he started critiquing the driver, giving pointers on the dos and don’ts of driving. At the end of the ride, the staff member went to help him off of the bus; he informed her that she received a B for her driving performance. She then listened to his suggestions and let him know that she would work on them, before they drove together again.
Another community member, who was non-verbal, did not interact well with others. His visits with his daughter were very strained. She felt that she was talking at him and would sit and stare at him in silence until the visit was over. They were both present, but not connecting. Staff then spoke with the daughter and suggested that on her next visit, she try something different. The staff provided her with a sensory bin that had magnetic connecting building tiles. The tiles were dumped out on the table, and the daughter started to play with them. Before long her dad joined in and was smiling, laughing, and interacting better than any of their other recent visits. The daughter came to the staff after the visit with tears in her eyes and stated, “I felt like I was able to connect with my dad again, even though we didn’t talk.”