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News about the recent success with the Covid-19 vaccine gives us hope this holiday season. And the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that long term care and memory care in West Columbia, SC facility residents will be first in line gives us reason to cheer. This is especially important to families who have missed seeing their loved ones at Still Hopes and other retirement communities. 

Across the U.S., people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia seem to have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. From anecdotal accounts, we have learned that many people struggling with dementia have been worsening with a lack of regular health monitoring and social interactions. 

But a recent analysis of data provided by the CDC confirms it. Just in the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were approximately 13 to 15-thousand more Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related deaths than in any of the previous five years. This only adds to the stress for the families who have to put their trust in others to care for their loved ones. 

Here within our supportive living neighborhoods at Greenway at Still Hopes, we are proud of the balance we have created with keeping our residents safe, while still providing an abundance of daily enrichment to keep our memory care residents active. 

One of the biggest concerns for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia during Covid-19 is making sure they receive the proper medical care. 

“What sets Rose Gardens Memory Care apart is that we have always had in place a medical director, nurses, and dedicated dementia specialists onsite, which has been very helpful during Covid,” said Hilary Bassett, Assistant Administrator and Head Compliance Officer at Greenway. “We don’t use agency staff. Everyone who works on site is an actual employee, and many have been working with residents for years, every single day, and are already part of the Greenway family.”

In fact, while many communities have been laying off employees, Still Hopes has been adding employees in every single department during Covid. And going above and beyond with infection control training is just the tip of the iceberg - every memory care staff member receives additional dementia training, so they understand the different triggers for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents.

“What upsets a resident or makes them happy can change hour-to-hour,” said Bassett. “Our staff is trained to detect changes in their activities of daily living, and even how and what they are eating. Everyone gets the attention they deserve.”

Across the U.S., another major concern is whether dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can stay engaged and keep their minds stimulated during Covid.

Rose Gardens Memory Care has its own full-time designated activity specialist.

“Bob Michalski is a talented activity specialist and musician who is fantastic with the memory care residents,” said Bassett.

Michalski knew that quarantining memory care residents to their room was never an option. So he got creative. Residents enjoyed more activities like trolley rides, feeding the turtles at the pond, and exercising along with all of their other favorite outdoor activities. They took bus rides around town with their individual small quarantined groups. And Rose Gardens hosted weekly hair and nail days, and themed parties.

They also safely visited with their families.

“Wearing a mask isn’t always an option for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, so they face-timed, and enjoyed window visits and outdoor social-distanced tent visits,” said Bassett. “The families are even getting involved through the holidays, by bringing festive decorations from home so we can host a door decorating contest for residents.”

“Our success has been evident in that we haven’t had any Covid cases in Rose Gardens, and the families can clearly see their loved ones are happy and healthy. We have also made a point to stay in constant communication. So the families have really been gracious and supportive.”

If you are struggling with determining if now is the right time to move your loved one into memory care, the specialists and board-certified staff at Greenway at Still Hopes can assist. We’ll be happy to discuss your options with you and take you on a virtual tour.