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Educational series, new residential community help ease challenges of dementia

Jun 21, 2017
An architect’s rendering shows Mukilteo Memory Care, a state-of-the-art facility under construction in Mukilteo’s Harbour Pointe. The 52-unit project will provide specialized services and care for people with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias. It is slated to open by the end of summer.

Perhaps our biggest fear as we age is about loss – losing our independence, our physical abilities, and, especially, our minds. And, of course, we don’t want to be a burden on anyone.

The experts at Mukilteo Memory Care at Harbour Pointe, a new residential community being designed and built for people with Alzheimer’s and other related memory impairments, aren’t waiting for their late summer opening to educate the community about dementia and provide assurances that sufferers can live the final chapter of their lives in dignity and comfort.

They have been presenting a free educational series, open to anyone, about dementia. The classes are designed to help educate, encourage and empower family and friends of people with memory loss due to related dementias.

Kathy Valencia, the Executive Director at Mukilteo Memory Care, said, “Our goal is to help you with managing challenging behaviors and help with how to navigate the practical daily needs of loved ones with dementia.”

Thanks to advances in medicine, people are living longer than ever, and that means more people can expect to develop some form of dementia as they age. Baby boomers, in particular, are facing those challenges, either with parents who have dementia or with spouses or other loved ones who are beginning to show signs of memory loss.

It is estimated that 10 million boomers will develop Alzheimer’s; among those who live to 85, nearly half will get it. That increases the importance of educating ourselves about it.

MMC’s series topics include: Dementia, What Is It?; Dementia Communication Tips; Help with Managing Behaviors; Caregiver Support Group; and Eight Components of Care at Mukilteo Memory Care.

The series will repeat every Friday morning from 10:30 a.m. to noon in July at Rosehill Community Center. Call 425-267-0808 to RSVP.

Meanwhile, construction is in the final stages at the state-of-the-art facility at 4686 Pointes Dr., Mukilteo. Unlike other retirement communities where people may move in as independent residents, but later develop special needs as they age, Mukilteo Memory Care is specifically designed, top to bottom, just for residents with memory impairments.

Consequently, there is much attention on everything from using “calming” colors for walls, carpet and furniture, bright dishes to stimulate appetite, to installing memory “alcoves.” These “themed areas” include a workshop, kitchen, sports center, sewing/laundry room, travel and gardening center where residents find comfort because those alcoves refresh long-held, happy memories for them.

There will even be a calming “Snoezelen” type room with aromatherapy scents and dim lighting that help residents mellow out when they’re having a bad day.

MMC is designed to feature in-house conveniences for residents, such as a beauty and barber shop, massage room and exercise room. Other amenities like large family rooms with fireplaces will help make MMC feel just like home.

Ongoing research has produced significant advances in treatment and care for people with dementia. Music therapy, for example, which provides them with triggers that bring back happier times, have been proven to bring them comfort. “People just come alive,” Valencia said, “even bedridden folks.”

They’ll also pay attention to each resident’s personal history so that they can provide opportunities for that person to relive happier times. A retired accountant, for example, could be given a stack of “bills” and a 10-key calculator that would keep him content for hours and give the resident a sense of purpose.

The MMC staff also will be specially trained, from the housekeepers to the caregivers and everyone in between. “That’s what will make us stand apart,” Valencia said. “We try to keep up with the latest advances.”

Wendy Crownover, MMC’s Concierge, is among the first on staff who will be helping ensure residents continue to enjoy fulfilling, comfortable lives.

“It’s very important to educate the staff and the family,” Crownover said. “We also want our employees to have a sense of passion about their work.”

With over 10 years experience as an Executive Director, Valencia herself specializes in teaching specialized dementia training. She is a Certified Administrator in California as well as Washington. Her staff will have 80 hours of specialized training – 10 times the state’s requirement – with ongoing training throughout the year as well.

Their educational series, as well as support groups for loved ones, also ensure that people living with dementia will have the best possible ongoing care, whether they are residents at MMC or elsewhere.

With room for 60 residents, MMC will offer open houses, tours, speakers and classes, along with caregiver support groups for people caring for a loved one with dementia at home.

It can be a difficult time for people dealing with that loved one. “Dementia really is ‘the long goodbye,’” Valencia said.

Adult children play an important role in helping a parent let go when caring for a spouse at home becomes overwhelming. “They can’t keep them safe anymore, and it becomes too mentally and physically exhausting,” she said. “It helps knowing we’re going to take really good care of their loved one.”

Valencia said sometimes people put off that hard decision until it’s almost too late, while others start planning early, knowing the day is coming when they’ll need help.

“It could be awhile before they need us, but we’re here to help,” she said.

To learn more, contact Mukilteo Memory Care. An information office is open at 12221 Village Center, Suite 202, or call 425-267-0808 or go to their website at www.mukilteomemorycare.com.

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