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Fountain View Opens Memory Care Neighborhood

Fountain View St. Louis Assisted Living Memory CareErin Rogers, Director of Fountain View, the assisted living arm of Friendship Village Sunset Hills, today announced the opening of a new memory care neighborhood and program at Fountain View.

With the Alzheimer Association’s St. Louis Chapter calculating 110, 000 living with impaired memory in Missouri and more than 5 million nationally, Rogers pointed to the need for expanded residences and services to help families with the heavy responsibilities of memory loss care. 

Fountain View’s new memory care neighborhood, constructed from existing assisted living apartments, consists of 10 apartments each with a sitting room, bedroom, walk-in closet, shower and kitchenette set near a large communal country kitchen and living room.

“The neighborhood provides private apartment space and makes the community living situation conducive to those with memory loss.  Memory loss sufferers often find a larger community daunting so we limit the neighborhood to 10 apartments and a defined area,” Rogers said.

She indicated residents in a larger community can begin to withdraw when memory loss occurs.  “It can be an early warning sign.”

While assuring safety and security, the neighborhood, according to Rogers, delivers not only a manageable environment but professionally trained staff trained and a specialized memory care program.

“We operate a close family environment with residents helping with everyday tasks.  The staff works a 12-hour shift so whoever greets residents in the morning stays with them all day.  Consistency and familiarity help with memory problems,” Rogers said.

Memory boxes hang outside each apartment door.  These boxes represent residents’ individuality. 

“Filled by residents and their families, the boxes contain samples of past hobbies and interests, favorite colors, pertinent newspaper articles or awards—whatever speaks to the resident’s individuality and character.

“We acknowledge their individuality and help residents and their families, who are usually heavily involved in their care, do the same.”

Program activities range from exercise classes, reminiscence, bingo and card games, art and musical therapy and more.  Although the staff sets a calendar, Rogers said they respond flexibly and spontaneously to residents’ wishes.

For reminiscence activities, Rogers said the staff starts with the memory boxes gathering information from residents and their families about past careers, interests and hobbies. 

“We work puzzles depicting a specific hobby or interest and use the images to start conversations about those interests.  Baking sometimes prompts discussions of rearing a family including the fun and challenge of providing for them.  Walking spurs talk of the landscape, hunting and gardening.”

Aside from the activities program, residents interface with the larger Fountain View community through church and entertainment options. 

Fresh air comes from a shuttered balcony in the neighborhood enlivened by plants and greenery and from the pastoral setting of the 58-acre campus of Friendship Village Sunset Hills and Fountain View Assisted Living.

With the new neighborhood not completely full, Rogers encourages applicants but said they must qualify for assisted living which means exhibiting a certain amount of mobility and transferring capacity. 

Researching care options for family members with memory loss can prove intimidating, Rogers said.  “We help families navigate that process using our professional experience, training and the services now available in the new neighborhood.”

Nothing at this point treats, cures or prevents Alzheimer’s, Rogers said, so memory care neighborhoods and programs remain crucial. Some light exists on the horizon, however, with the signing of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act in 2011 and the government’s goal of determining effective treatment by 2025, she concluded.