When a loved one receives a diagnosis of dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or some other form of cognitive impairment, it’s life changing. Particularly for a couple who has shared their life together.
Caring for a spouse with dementia can be one of the most difficult tasks a husband or wife could take on. For many, the physical wear and emotional roller coaster that lies ahead can be devastating.
For this particular reason, Highgate Senior Living has paid extra attention to the types of programs and support it offers couples.
Highgate assisted living facilities offer memory care in the same community, allowing spouses to receive support to care for their loved one. Couples know that whatever happens, they can be together.
Each Day to the Fullest
When one person has dementia, it doesn’t mean that their life as a couple is over.
“They can still participate in couples activities, depending on where they’re at,” says Melanie Danielson, Executive Director, Highgate at Vancouver.
Activities in the Highgate communities include couples outings, date nights to favorite restaurants and even couples game nights, where you might see residents playing games like the Newlywed Game. “They think it’s the funniest thing ever,” says Danielson.
“We also invite one or two couples to elegant lunches,” she says. “The menu is different, maybe a t-bone steak, with wine, baked potato, a fancy dessert, flowers on the table. Residents love it. And for someone with dementia, they’re not overwhelmed by new surroundings.”
Celebrating anniversaries has become an important part of life at Highgate. A couple at Bozeman recently celebrated their 74th anniversary.
“You don’t see marriages lasting that long,” said Tiffany Van Heel, Life Enhancement Coordinator, Highgate at Bozeman. “They [the couple] have been through thick and thin, and they're still just as in love.”
She works with couples to design their anniversary celebrations. Date night, a group celebration, a family get-together – “we build it around what they want.”
At one celebration, the couple asked residents to bring their wedding photos and tell their own wedding stories. “The wedding stories are just phenomenal,” says Van Heel.
Stories from past events, like weddings, can often draw out those with memory loss. Van Heel recently met with a couple to plan their anniversary celebration. The wife, who has dementia, couldn't participate in much of the discussion. However, she added to the story about their wedding and the honeymoon spot that they returned to every year.
Making the Move to Memory Care
When a spouse is no longer able to live in assisted living, The Cottage, Highgate’s memory care community is just a short walk away.
A memory care environment offers support tailored specifically for those with memory impairment. Activities, care, and even dining programs are built with memory impairment in mind.
Couples Care in Memory Care
Couples still spend a majority of their day together. They can dine together and still spend time enjoying the diverse activities calendar Highgate offers.
“Memory care residents are encouraged to participate in activities both with their spouse and separately based on the needs of both residents,” says Van Heel."
Keeping memory care residents active and involved is key.
Highgate goes above and beyond to ensure residents in The Cottages are living each day to the fullest.
Residents are encouraged to stay as physically, mentally and socially active as possible. In The Cottages, you’ll find exercise classes, music therapy and relaxing massages, as well as a variety of activities and outings for fun.