memory enhancement programThe Memory Enhancement Program

The Memory Enhancement Program (MEP) was developed for assisted living residents who are experiencing early Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, depression, adjustment difficulties, residents who often feel "lost" in their new environment. Residents with mild memory loss frequently become distressed when they cannot find their room or can't remember meal times, and they are uncomfortable attending activity programs because they are uncertain what is expected of them. They tend to sit (or sleep) for most of the day in the lobby or they isolate themselves in their rooms and - either way - receive little attention or stimulation. Without cognitive stimulation, it appears that the memory loss progresses more rapidly.

I designed the MEP based on research that suggests ways to improve memory and delay the progression of memory loss. At this time, I have no hard data on residents who participated in the MEP regarding the progression of their memory loss, but reports from staff and families tell of residents being more verbal, more alert, and generally happier when they participate in the program. The program has also received positive comments from oriented residents who are uncomfortable attending programs with residents who, for example, may mistake a bingo chip for a cookie.

memory enhancement programThe MEP is a seven-day-a-week activity-based program paid for by families as an additional cost. The additional revenue compensates staff and pays for supplies. Depending on the number of participants, the MEP may produce a profit. Many assisted living communities face census challenges and find that the MEP helps them maintain residents in their community longer because the resident has a safe place to go during most of their waking hours. A staff person is with them most of the day, helping to ensure their safety. The MEP also provides assisted living communities with a new program to offer in a competitive marketplace.

Some assisted living communities have discovered that they have enough residents with mild memory loss to create another special dementia program or wing. The MEP "creeps" with a minimal financial risk. They start with a room designated for the residents to meet in, progress to making part of a wing designated for the MEP with staffing 24/7. As the number of residents increase, the number of rooms in the designated area grows. It becomes a transitional program that is especially helpful for working with families who are still in denial about their loved one's abilities and refuse to place their loved one in a secured dementia program. Occasionally the opposite happens and the resident who is admitted to a secured dementia program is moved out to this less restrictive wing or floor of the community.

For more information regarding the MEP, please e-mail me at joycesimard@earthlink.net