You're Browsing Dementia Care

Con and Dorothy at their 63rd wedding anniversary

Con and Dorothy at their 63rd wedding anniversary

When Conrad and Dorothy Irving decided to look for an older adult community, they were faced with a lot of choices. “We looked at four places before choosing a suite at United’s Fish Creek,” said Conrad. “My daughter is in the business of helping seniors to downsize and she suggested we look at United. She liked the atmosphere here.” The Irving’s chose a suite in United’s Fish Creek North, which offers assisted living and memory care support, fine and casual dining, theatre, spa, an art studio and art gallery.

Painting of church by Conrad Irving

One of several paintings that Conrad has produced

They were attracted to United for several reasons, including the wide variety of unique programming. “My wife has memory issues and United has a lot of programs that help keep the mind active. As well, there are no separate units for those with dementia. I really like the way that everyone is integrated into the community. In fact, through the United Minds program, Dorothy keeps busy with United Minds coordinator Becky Robertson by participating in games, baking, walking, crafts and many more activities that are offered. Other nice features are the heated underground parking and the arts and culture programs they have.”

Conrad and Dorothy know that United’s philosophy includes keeping couples together as long as possible. “We’ve seen the stories in the news about couples who have been forced apart due to health issues. We know that at United we will be able to stay together and receive the health support we need for as long as is practical.”

Painting of a car loaded with flowers

Conrad Irving has become a talented painter while at United

Conrad, who worked in sales all his life, doesn’t stand still. “I’m a very active person and I don’t sit still when I see something that needs doing,” he says. He is very involved with the food committee and is working with other residents to create a residents’ council, which works closely with United staff to ensure programs and services are first rate. He is particularly supportive when new residents move in.

On the arts side, Conrad is an experienced wood carver, and has joined several other residents who have a similar interest. He recently discovered a knack for painting and pottery. He has completed three paintings, and is working on a fourth.

The arts and culture programs offered to residents is lengthy and varied. It means that for Conrad and Dorothy, their social calendar is full. “We go to the music performances that appeal to us, the theatre and other programs. There are a lot of choices!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

 


You're Browsing Dementia Care

“Labels can become so frustrating, as instead of being Jim, John, Lucy or Ann, you suddenly morph into a person with dementia first, followed by your name and other qualities. It’s as if the rest of the person has vanished into thin air, never to return.” – Person with dementia (World Alzheimer Report, 2012).

Dementia is an emotionally charged word that conjures up a variety of pre-conceived notions and cultural stereotypes. There are more than 100 types of dementia and United approaches dementia care with a new view in mind – one that abandons old ideas and methods in favour of an openness to new ways of helping people with dementia live a full and more positive life.

Musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic perform

Musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic perform at United’s Garrison Green community

Under United Active Living’s breakthrough United Minds program, socialization and community are the focus rather than segregation and medication.

“We operate under a social model rather than a medical model of care which means that we see the whole person, their interests, their personality and life history, not just their diagnosis,” said Mariana Hudson, United Minds coordinator for United’s Fish Creek community. “Medication, behaviour control and isolation aren’t part of how we operate. To provide a social approach means that we ask our residents what they need to live well in our community. We prioritize their strengths, abilities and interests. All of our programs can be customized and evolve to meet their needs.”

Residents with dementia live on the same floors as everyone else; they eat in the same spaces and attend the same programs. Everyone has the same opportunities to engage in all aspects of life in our communities.

The approach and benefits of the United Minds program are summed up in a new online brochure available for viewing or downloading on the United website.

United Active Living thinks differently about aging. Our new United Minds brochure hopes to change the conversation about dementia by discussing the challenges and the opportunities that dementia presents. The brochure discusses the impact of dementia and offers an overview of the various services and programs offered by the United Minds team.

United Minds is a unique program for residents with cognitive impairments that provides programming allowing them to live fuller more connected lives. If you’re early in your dementia journey, you’re given support to socialize and attend any program both inside and outside our community. For those that need more connections throughout the day, our smaller programs assist residents in living active spiritual, emotional and intellectual lives.

A resident looks over a collector car at Heritage Park

A visit to Calgary’s Heritage Park brings back fond memories

“The social and emotional needs of our residents take priority and we work every day with residents in the program to ensure they have every opportunity to engage in our creative programs and activities, outings and other aspects of an active lifestyle,” said Bridget Coulter, United Minds coordinator at United’s Garrison Green community.

Here’s an example from the brochure that talks about how the United Minds program can support our residents:

Emily has a difficult time remembering how to get to the dining room or to the theatre for programs from her suite. After discussing her challenges with the United Minds coordinator, Emily is able to go to the music programs and enjoy the friends she is making through the more intimate programs designed to facilitate community and connection. When it’s lunchtime, United Minds staff help her decide what she wants to eat and how it’s best served. The same staff escort her to her suite for a rest and are back later that afternoon to take her to a another program in the theatre.

A family member of a resident in the program said recently: “We can’t believe the change in mum. It’s amazing. I haven’t seen her this happy in years.”

“Just because someone sees the world differently than we do doesn’t mean they don’t want to continue to be valuable, contributing members of the community,” said Mariana. “Everyone has a strength even when other aspects are failing. They still have a lot of life to live.”

“We find out what connects them and anchors them and then we work on that,” added Bridget. “It doesn’t take much to find out what their passion is and then we focus on how we continue to support that passion and those strengths.”

Take a look at the brochure and contact us using the form below if you would like to know more about our unique approach to dementia care. Check out this blog article on resources that can help you make the right choices for your family.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


You're Browsing Dementia Care

“Culture change will always be at the heart of high quality care for people living with dementia.” – Dr. Al Power, geriatrician and author.

The term “dementia” conjures up a variety of images, usually associated with a pre-conceived notion or some cultural stereotype. There are more than 100 types of dementia, and as we move through Alzheimer’s month, it would be well to examine our views, and more pointedly, how we should approach dementia care.

“This is a civil rights issue,” said Dr. Power in a recent interview. “We are saying there is a group of people who can’t live around anyone else because they are different. We’ve been down that road, and we know that putting physical attributes before them as people not only is discriminatory, but it also stereotypes those individuals.”

Painting by a United Minds participant

Painting by a United Minds participant

Dr. Power and others, including United Active Living, are spearheading a culture shift in how we support people with dementia and other cognitive impairments.

All too often segregation and medication are the preferred options.

“It doesn’t have to be like that,” said Gail Hinchliffe, president of United Active Living. “When someone decides they want to move into one of our communities, we focus more on improving their lives through socialization, community, friendships and integration into the everyday activities here. Medication to control behaviour and isolation aren’t even considerations. While many may talk about this approach, United’s communities are actively using this approach and getting some very positive results.”

Garrison Green dining roomResidents with dementia live on the same floors as everyone else; they eat in the same spaces and attend the same programs. This is done intentionally so that everyone has the same opportunities to engage in all aspects of our community.

Researchers have found that segregated communities with a dedicated floor or ward for people with dementia often prioritize nutrition, security and physical care over people’s social, emotional and environmental needs. This can lead to monotony of routines organized for the convenience of staff, stark and clinical environments and limited opportunities to engage socially or partake in meaningful activities. As a result, there is a stigma associated with those living in dementia units that further isolates them from the community.

“There are things that we do that diminish the worth of the person,” Dr. Power said recently in a presentation in Australia. “We take people whose view of the world is changing and fit them into programs based on our needs and our schedules. We expect them to fit and when they don’t fit, we medicate them.”

As a family member of a resident in United Active Living’s United Minds program recently stated, “She says many times how safe she feels; how happy she is.”

“We focus on a social model rather than a medical model,” said Gail. “What this means is that we determine a person’s interests, then a cognitive enhancement program is developed.”

Here’s a typical example.

Emily has a difficult time remembering how to get to the dining room or to the theatre for programs from her suite. After discussing her challenges with the United Minds coordinator, Emily is able to go to the music programs and enjoy the friends she is making through the more intimate programs designed to facilitate community and connection. When it’s lunchtime, United Minds staff help her decide what she wants to eat and how it’s best served. The same staff escort her to her suite for a rest and are back later that afternoon to take her to a another program in the theatre.

Another family member of a resident said recently: “We can’t believe the change in mum. It’s amazing. I haven’t seen her this happy in years.”

“Everyone has a strength even when other aspects are failing,” said Gail. “There is still a lot of life to live. We find out what still connects them and anchors them and then we work on that. It doesn’t take much to find out what their passion is and then we focus on how we continue to support that passion and those strengths.

“When you get to a certain stage in life every day you are faced with perhaps a reality of another decline, so the power of being able to learn something new, to be able to express yourself in a new way is just so powerful. It’s not so much how long I’m going to live, but how well I’m going to live,” said Gail.

Check out this blog article on resources that can help you make the right choices for your family. The programs are sorted by topic. For example, when should you consider moving to an older adult community, and United’s exploration of the arts to help keep the brain and mind sharp. There’s a lot of information there, as well as links to videos and our YouTube channel and to website pages where United’s philosophy is described in depth. Plus, check out our other blog articles to learn more about the benefits of being a resident at a United Active Living community.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

 

 


You're Browsing Dementia Care

Dementia is a shift in the way a person experiences the world.” – Dr. Allen Power

It seems almost a given these days that at some point in later life, dementia in some form will impact our appreciation of life. Studies are showing that as the baby boomers age, and we live longer, the number of cases rise.

So how should society react to that growing number? Medicate them and shut them away?

“It doesn’t have to be like that,” said Gail Hinchliffe, president of United Active Living Communities in Calgary. “When someone decides they want to move into one of our communities, we focus more on improving their lives through socialization, community, friendships and integration into the everyday activities here. Medication to control behaviour and isolation aren’t even considerations.”

The Case For Social Programs

Paintings at United Active LivingGail and her staff agree with the work Dr. Al Power and others are doing to change how we see those with dementia. Power has become a leader in the field of dementia treatment by arguing against depending on medication to control symptoms, and working more towards a social solution that integrates those with dementia into active communities with memory care and social programs that support them rather than shut them away.

“There are things that we do that diminish the worth of the person,” Dr. Power said in a presentation in Australia recently. “We take people whose view of the world is changing and fit them into programs based on our needs and our schedules. And we expect them to fit and when they don’t fit, we medicate them.”

Dr. Rob Winningham, chair of the Psychology Division at Western Oregon University, writing in the Journal on Active Aging, notes that a holistic approach is needed to improve memory and reduce the chances of dementia. “To maintain or even improve memory ability in older adulthood, we need to use a holistic approach that includes factors such as cognitive exercise, physical exercise, proper nutrition, adequate social engagement, healthy sleep habits, and reduced stress.”

United Active Living bases its philosophy on social interaction rather than medication. Care is taken to determine a person’s interests, then a cognitive enhancement program is developed.

“Everyone has a strength even when other aspects are failing. There is still a lot of life to live. We find out what still connects them and anchors them and then we work on that,” said Bridget Coulter, who oversees United’s United Minds program, formerly called Memory Select. “It doesn’t take much to find out what their passion is and then we focus on how we continue to support that passion and those strengths that they still have remaining.”

The Emphasis is on Lifelong Learning

“We feel strongly that there’s more to our later years that just what a medical model can provide,” said Gail. “It’s more than just getting your medications on time. So that’s why we have a holistic approach to what we do. There’s emphasis on providing opportunities for lifelong learning, for creative expression. Whether that be the art studio, being involved in dance, in poetry and having lots of opportunities for social engagement. Whether that’s within the residence, or in the greater, broader community. It is really all about living well in your community.”

Research, as well as experience gained from the United Active Living experience, confirms that no matter how old a person is, they can gain from new experiences whether it’s strength training or an intellectual pursuit. “These findings are revolutionary because it means that really there is no end to how many ways we can stimulate our minds and start to build new neural pathways. And as long as we can do that, the losses are greatly diminished,” said Bridget.

“When you get to a certain stage in life every day you are faced with perhaps a reality of another decline, so the power of being able to learn something new, to be able to express yourself in a new way is just so powerful. It’s not so much how long I’m going to live, but how well I’m going to live,” said Gail.

Related articles:

Minding the Mind

This World is But a Canvas for Our Imagination

Healthy Activities for Healthy Aging 

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.