When an older adult is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, their loved ones might understand the prognosis, but they can’t understand what the person is actually going through.
Even with the best of intentions, understanding what life is like living with cognitive decline is impossible, and often the senior living with the disease is unable to explain what it’s like.
However, Prestige Senior Living is working on bridging that gap.
Angie Frantz, Prestige’s Celebrations and Expressions Product Manager, developed dementia toolkits to distribute to the company’s Expressions memory care communities that helps loved ones and caregivers get a first-hand sense of what life is like living with dementia.
The items that comprise the toolkit mimic many of the sensory challenges faced by those living with the disease. While most people know about the memory loss aspect of dementia, many aren’t aware there are a variety of physical effects as well, and the toolkit is aimed to help build understanding and empathy for those symptoms for the person’s loved ones and caregivers.
There are swim goggles that are tinted and have the peripheral vision blacked out to show the visual impairments common for those with dementia. There’s a radio set to play static to help loved ones and caregivers understand the hearing deficits many seniors with dementia deal with. There are slippers with rubber spikes embedded in the soles to simulate the painful neuropathy faced by many people with dementia, as well as gardening gloves with rubber tips on the fingers that demonstrate the difficulties with the loss of motor skills in the hands and fingers.
The toolkits were sent out to each of Prestige’s Expressions community late in 2021 and became an immediate difference-maker for the teams at the communities.
“It’s certainly been a help to everybody and helping family members understand the best way to talk to mom or dad or understanding some of their behaviors that are going along with a deficit in some area,” Frantz said in an interview with the Chico Enterprise-Record. “So this helps us to be better communicators and better caregivers in our communities.”
The toolkits have been so popular they’ve led to a variety of stories in local media outlets. In addition to the newspaper article in Chico, there have been several television segments as well.
If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, the toolkits can be a valuable tool in helping you understand some of the effects the disease is having on your loved one. Visit a Prestige community near you to book a tour and try out the toolkits for yourself.
Prestige’s award-winning Expressions memory care program is designed to keep memory care residents active and engaged. Our compassionate caregivers take the time to understand elements of a person’s life story so that we can personalize and tailor each service we provide. We build relationships with our residents based on trust, empathy, support and humor, always focusing on them and not their disease.