“There is one thing Alzheimer’s cannot take away, and that is love. Love is not a memory – it’s a feeling that resides in the soul.” We have had this quote framed to hang at our facility. It could not be truer and at Ripley Crossing we work each day to provide that love, which may just be a temporary feeling, but can make the day of a dementia resident.

Ripley Crossing was one of the first facilities in Indiana to provide dementia care as Milan Health Care. Our board members saw a need for the care & we were excited to take on the challenge of learning the ins and outs of this horrible disease. We currently offer specialized dementia care where we divide our living areas for a dementia resident into early, mid, & late stage levels. A significant consequence of the cognitive changes that occur in dementia is the impaired ability of individuals to perceive and make sense of the world around them. Read more below to understand how this person center dementia care differs from wing to wing, including activities, staff, environment and more.

Our Wing 1, early stage dementia unit is specifically designed to serve the memory impaired individual who still functions fairly well in a structured environment. Residents on this wing are more mobile and enjoy a more social community. They frequently make use of the covered porch with a sitting area for visitors and a courtyard containing birdbaths, raised flower beds, ornamental trees, and more.

Being a secured area, the residents may access the courtyard as they choose. This allows for a greater feeling of free choice & overall well-being. You can also find a fully equipped kitchen where our residents are able to bake or cook during activities or on holidays with their families.

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Most residents residing on Wing 1 are able to feed themselves. If help is needed with dressing, grooming or using the restroom, one staff person should be able successfully assist the majority. You will find our early stage dementia residents playing bingo for “Bingo Bucks,” (which can later be used in our facility bingo store to purchase toiletries, gifts, snacks, and more.)

Every morning after breakfast they start their day with Sittercise. Every Friday they participate in a large group bowling game. These residents also bake, cook, and make crafts. A very important part of our life on this wing is our daily socials; whether it be coffee/tea time, trivia socials, or glamour time socials.

Mid-stage dementia, Wing 2, is where people with dementia most of all need a good friend, someone to stand beside them and help them meet life’s everyday challenges. This wing serves individuals who require more physical and/or behavioral support than those in the early stage area.

Elements in the layout of Wing 2 create opportunities for meaningful activity. Some examples are life stations, which are therapeutic activity areas created by dividing the large area into specific themed areas such as a nursery, reading area, or kitchen table. This is a very specialized living area, designed for people who are compelled to wander about (typical of people in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s Disease).

Because of the wondering nature of the residents, each resident has their own shadow box outside their door which locks. Inside they can keep special pictures and items to help them feel more at home, safe, & to help with memories.

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The resident of this wing would normally be able to bear sufficient weight so as to assist in transfer to and from a chair or bed. If the resident manifests abusive or combative behaviors, the behaviors should be manageable through therapeutic approaches and/or low to moderate medication.

They may need assistance with dressing, eating, or bathing and that is ok. On this wing you will find the residents playing bingo and winning snacks, jewelry, and toiletries. They also exercise in the afternoon, play noodle ball, golf, bowling, and more. In this stage the residents are able to still perform tasks, but need a little more assistance with sequencing the proper steps.

This wing does not offer a full kitchen, but the residents do cook in crock pots & bake in a toaster oven. The smells bring back wonderful times. We use the beginning stages of sensory activities on this wing such as serenity sounds, listening to books on tape, & we still enjoy group socials. When the weather is nice, we love to go outside and sit under the pergola on our private secured patio.

 
 
Wing 3 is our late stage dementia living area. In line with the wellness approach, the overall goal in caring for someone in late stage dementia is to make the remainder of that person’s life as positive and fulfilling as possible. Staff on this wing have a high level of knowledge & skills, flexibility, and an attitude of realistic hope.

Upon entering Wing 3 you will note the sunny yellow color to uplift the spirit. At this stage activities rely heavily on sensory stimulation. The Hanging Water Fall is an example of one sensory stimulation feature.

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Activities on this wing range from sensory stimulations such as aroma therapy, hand massages, music sing-a-longs, and The Bird Aviary. As on wing 2, there is no full kitchen but baking is done in the toaster oven, and cook in crock pots also. We have a large walking path around the facility that we enjoy taking wheelchair rides in when the weather is nice as well.

This wing is designed to serve individuals who are no longer ambulating independently and/or may benefit from a low stimulation environment. The resident may require extensive to total staff support for all activities of daily living.  If the resident exhibits abusive or combative behaviors, the behaviors should be able to respond to therapeutic staff approach and/or medications.

As individuals progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, they no longer can identify family members, often become inarticulate and no longer understand the need for assistance. As in Wing Two, staff members receive specialized training in order to be able to patiently and successfully assist these residents.

Consistency is very helpful in the life of a dementia person. We thrive to schedule the same staff (housekeeping aide, activity aide, CNA, QMA, & RN/LPN) daily on each wing. This benefits the residents & staff. The residents are able to learn staff names and become familiar with them. Staff is able to engage with the resident more because they have learned their likes and interests.

Another consistency is the layout of our wings. Each wing is similar. Sometimes with the progression of the disease a resident will need to move from one wing to another. With the similarity in the wings, the transition is much easier and familiar for the loved one. Our nurse’s desk is located in the middle of a figure 8 layout which allows the staff to be able to view all rooms at all times.

The needs and responses of people with dementia tend to be changeable. What works with one person may not work tomorrow or an hour from now. What works with one person will not work with everyone. Our staff undergoes dementia training upon hire, as well as continued training throughout the year.