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Exercising The Brain, Enhancing Memory, and Maintaining Independence

By Devese Ursery

About 40% of people 65 years or older have age-related memory impairment — in the United States, about 16 million, only about 1% of them will progress to dementia each year, according to the National Library of Medicine.

On Thursday, July 28, Liberty Village, 6955 IL-162, in Maryville had a ribbon cutting ceremony introducing its new Memory Lane – Fitness for the Mind Program. The program has been developed to focus on an individual’s strengths and those strengths are applied to a personalized therapeutic program aimed to exercise the existing memory function.

There are two things that senior citizens try to hold on to for dear life and that’s their independence and their memories because really, in the end that’s all that you are left with and when that starts to fade, everything else becomes disheartening. Memory Lane-Fitness for the Mind seeks to exercise the brain, enhance memory, and maintain independence.

“Programs are guided by recommendations from highly trained professionals and are based on the individualized assessments of each resident’s unique level of functioning. Allowing each resident to maintain as much independence as possible is of paramount importance to us,” said Admission Coordinator, Heather Fain. “Focusing on that independence, Memory in Motion programming allows each individual to do as much as possible on their own, with guided support and assistance where needed by our Memory Care Specialists.”

Memory in Motion Programs feature independence with everyday tasks such as dressing, bathing, and maintaining personal hygiene. Fitness for the Mind Programming also focuses on programs to keep the residents walking, eating independently and maintaining continence for as long as possible. The programming allows families the freedom to know that their loved ones are not only being cared for, but encouraged to maximize their remaining abilities, allowing them to thrive, rather than just survive through the struggles related to memory impairment.

Some older adults have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, meaning they have more memory or other thinking problems than other people their age. People with MCI can usually take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone MCI will develop Alzheimer’s.

Sometimes it’s not just the residents inability to remember, MCI could also affect their balance and ability to stay up-right because of visual spatial impairments. This impairment is the brain’s inability  to perceive the visual information in a specific environment, mostly based on objects of the same color in that environment, so Liberty Village has implemented two environmental adjustments that would make life a little easier for the residents to maneuver through their later years more confidently and comfortably without injury. One of the environmental adjustments made was to the bathrooms where residents are most likely to fall and get injured. They had painted behind the commodes and attached black toilet seats to the commodes as well. The other adjustment was to the dining area where they incorporated the use of red place settings in the dining room to stimulate appetite.

“A lot of times with residents who have memory impairment it’s not just a physical deficit that prevents those things, it’s the brain’s inability to tell their body how to actually do that task, ‘’ said Memory Care Consultant, Jenny Eyler. “… one of the other things that happens with dementia and other types of memory impairment, there’s a lot of visual spatial changes that occur and the biggest thing that comes with that is that falls become more frequent. Residents who have dementia are four to five times more likely to fall than somebody who doesn’t have dementia. The biggest area that we focus on is the bathroom because falls in the bathroom tend to be the area where people end up with the most injury. The other environmental adjustment  that I’m really excited about is we’ve incorporated red place settings in the dining room. Studies have shown that has the potential to increase food intake up to 25% and fluid intake up to 84% and so it’s really important to our residents because as cognitive impairment progresses people tend to lose weight. People tend to stop drinking as much as they should and that leads to a lot of health problems, like UTIs and other problems associated with those things.”

“We are very excited to be the only facility in the surrounding area to roll out such a wonderful program for our patients with memory impairment,” said Dena Boss, director of marketing and sales at Liberty village.

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