More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common (and widely known) form of dementia. When we think of dementia, it’s important to remember that not everyone will experience the same symptoms. With most diseases, there’s a process of progression, and there’s also a plan of care that can help minimize the sometimes-negative effects. With the help of compassionate caregivers, it’s quite possible to experience both joy and comfort while living with dementia.
At Edgewood Healthcare, we’re redefining what it means to live with dementia. We offer far more than a place to live; we’re helping those with dementia thrive. Through helpful routines, individualized care, and activities that spark joy, we offer hope. We can help ease the uncertainty and the challenges that can accompany aging and dementia.
This is Katano’s story.
Steve (better known as “Katano”) lived with us at Edgewood Memory Care in Helena, Montana, for about three years before he passed away. Katano had three daughters—Frances, Miyoko and Eleanor.
Below Miyoko recalls some fond memories of her father’s experience at Edgewood, which even from the beginning offered a bright spot (in what can sometimes be a dark journey) for their family.
Katano was living independently in Southern Utah, but once he developed dementia required more care. Because his family wanted him to be close, they chose Edgewood Memory Care in Helena. The community was beautiful, the life enrichment program was exceptional and the homemade meals were delicious. They knew Edgewood was where he could receive the care he needed. As with all changes, there was a transition period for Katano in the beginning.
At first, it was difficult. You don’t want to leave your family members somewhere. But the care staff were always there, and Julia would bring her dog in to see my dad, and that always made him feel so much better. They made him feel special in a way that I felt so reassured. There was always somebody there to do something special for him, even if it was just a little walk around the block.
He had more friends there than anywhere else. The staff was keen to pick out things that he liked from his interests. They were so nice and caring.
Katano found joy with us at Edgewood. Miyoko recalled how her dad would play games and laugh all the time.
It was the most amazing thing that he was able to have a sense of humor and laugh again. That was wonderful. They had an amazing amount of activities, and the life enrichment part was key in helping him grow. I don’t think he would have done so well anywhere else.
At Edgewood, our specialized memory care staff create activities based on what our residents can do, rather than what they cannot do. For example, these activities might encourage speaking with others, reading and playing games.
We also strive to provide individualized attention. Our memory care communities offer the opportunity to socialize and relax with friends and families. They are designed to stimulate comfort and the feelings of home that ignite our residents’ long-term memories.
Katano lived freely at Edgewood. His family shared, “He lived some of the best years of his life here.”
When people are facing the end of their lives, it’s a common misconception that they can’t continue living in their memory care or assisted living community. In our community, Katano was able to receive hospice care to remain comfortable through the end.
Miyoko described, “I was grateful, and it was a comfort to me that he passed away in his home where he was comfortable and cared for.”
Meeting dementia with care and compassion.
While dementia and aging can be scary, having the right people around can ease the anxiety of the unknown.
Julia Morrow, Sales and Public Relations Director at Edgewood Helena, explained, “When memory care is done right, Katano’s story is exactly what life can look like for someone with dementia. There can be misconceptions about the quality of life available for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. We are so passionate about reaching people where they are on their journey, and Katano’s experience was such a shining example of the way an entire team’s effort played out. He was happy and had purpose, along with getting dignified clinical care. At Edgewood, many other families have received this same experience as well. That encourages us to keep going and to keep the bar high for our standards of care and life enrichment.”