Priscilla Yeakley's mother, Silvia, moved in with Priscilla and her family when her father died. The family was more than willing to care for Silvia, but over the course of four years it began to take a toll on everyone involved, especially Priscilla.
Silvia has Alzheimer's disease. The combination of caring for her mother night and day and looking after her own children at home wore Priscilla down.
"My children, who were both in high school at the time, basically didn't have a mom because I was constantly taking care of my mom," recalls Priscilla. "I just love my mom, I'm so close to her. But I was trying to do everything for everyone."
A friend told Priscilla about the adult daycare services at Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire, just down the road from where the Yeakleys live. Silvia started attending the day program to give Priscilla a chance to have some time for herself. Eventually, however, Silvia's dementia progressed to the point where she was not sleeping and she would
wander around the house, causing constant worry for Priscilla and her family.
Silvia moved into the Catholic Care Center Memory Care Residence, where she has benefited from their expert programming, services and design, and from the renewed closeness to her daughter and grandchildren.
"It is more relaxed around our house now," says Priscilla. "I'm not all tense; there's more peace. It didn't hurt us to have her here for four years, but now that I am more relaxed I am able to have more quality time with her."
Award-winning programming and design
In November of 2002, the Catholic Life Center opened its new Memory Care Residence designed especially for those with early stage dementia. The development committee of the Catholic Care Center traveled through several states to observe facilities and programs at continuing care retirement communities. In the course of the search, committee members discovered a new entrant into the continuum of long-term care services: dementia care at an assisted living level. Thus was born the concept for a Memory Care Residence at the Catholic Care Center.
Combining neighborhood living together with a person-centered care philosophy, The Memory Care Residence at the Catholic Life Center provides a unique environment for persons with cognitive impairments who are best served in a home of their own.
"We believe in honoring the special personality that has come to live with us by partnering with the resident's family, providing a specially trained staff, programming that engages the resident, and a preferred living environment," says Tom Church, Catholic Care Center CEO. "Continuity of care is provided in two settings: the Memory Care Residence and The Meadows. Those who benefit from and qualify for an assisted living environment are served in the Memory Care Residence. Those who need a higher level of personal care are served in The Meadows."
A well-designed environment creates an environment that enhances dignity and maintains independence, Tom explains. A carefully-planned design can accommodate, diminish, and even neutralize disruptive behaviors. Design for the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, needs to take into account their desire to continue normal daily activities that have given them pleasure, such as gardening or putting seeds into a bird feeder. These activities are often tied to a wellspring of memories that create the experience of well-being for the resident. The role of the environment is to enable this to happen.
One of the ways this is happening in the Memory Care Residence is through the cueing design leading to each resident household. Themes, colors and scenes create directions into one's household. For example, the cueing design for the south household is a theme of an old-fashioned street corner. A textured wall, painted like stone, leads from the core program area into the household. Once in the household, the stone wall continues with a café window. In front of the painted stone wall in the core program area is an old-fashioned street light, a mail box, a street corner bench. The continuity of these items enables the residents of this household to find their own way to their home and tie in with objects they would have experienced in earlier years. Thus is created an environment that is friendly and thus more conducive to a resident's sense of well-being.
Dementia Program Of Distinction
The Memory Care Residence at the Catholic Care Center has successfully achieved the standards to attain certification in the Alzheimer's Foundation of America Excellence in Care Dementia Program of Distinction, only the fifth such designation granted in the United States and the only one in the State of Kansas. With this designation, Catholic Care Center is recognized as a model of dementia care. In 2011 it received notification it had successfully met the criteria for recertification.
A community leader
The Catholic Care Center is a community leader in Alzheimer services. The first Wednesday of each month they host a Support Group for the Alzheimer's Association. In addition to the Memory Care Residence and the Special Care Unit within the nursing center, the Catholic Care Center offers an Adult Day program for persons who may need a half day or full day of program while the well spouse is at work.
"The value of one day"
"We chose Catholic Care Center for our adult day care provider for a number of reasons," says Donald M. Douglas, PhD. "The facilities are first-rate. The place is furnished like a home, not at all institutional, and provides a home-like atmosphere. We found the staff to be cheerful, upbeat and wholly professional. We have been using it one day each week...and the value of that one day per week to me, as the sole caregiver, is incalculable."