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The Connections are Heartfelt

On any given day, there will be baking, gardening, yoga, scarf dancing and more, much more. With Heartfelt Connections behind everything they do, the residents of memory support assisted living at The Springs of Monarch Landing are kept engaged in purposeful activities.

“It’s about empowering the residents. This is their home, and we want them to pursue their activities and interests,” said Maria Nardulli, life enrichment manager at The Springs. “Maintaining dignity and a sense of purpose and meaning are important and make the aging process so much better.”

Heartfelt Connection, which is based on the latest in memory care research and best practices, is a-a comprehensive, person-centered and activity-focused program developed by Life Care Services which manages The Springs. Heartfelt Connections is grounded in the belief that all abilities that an individual with dementia maintains are far more important than those that are lost. Each member of the memory care team at The Springs is trained in Heartfelt Connections.

“Research shows that exercise, a structured environment, and continuous stimulation can slow down the progression of dementia. All these components are integrated into our programming, and that’s important,” said Calli Cantrell, memory support assisted living manager for The Springs.

“Programming drives our memory care, and our residents’ families often tell us they notice how happy and engaged their loved ones are,” said Nardulli. “Program planning takes the 24-hour brain into consideration. In the morning, we have a wake-up-the-brain exercise to stimulate the neurons. We’ll paint or do cognitive brain games and activities. In the afternoon in order to keep the brain stimulated we have music and social programs, perhaps tea time. In the evening, residents will have less stimulating activities like short movies and stories, hand massages, etc. to help promote a good night sleep.”

Cantrell said that there’s also a focus on promoting multi-sensory programming. “We have a baking club; baking is a life skill that most of our residents have, and it’s sensory while also being purposeful. We’ll also hold a mocktails and painting event where we sip and paint. We also have a drum circle which is therapeutic.”

The memory care program is largely successful due to its collaborative design. “We have a dedicated, hands-on team that is trained in dementia care. We’re resident-centered and do things that the residents want, and on their schedule. I went to tour some skilled care communities and saw the staff and residents watching Jeopardy on TV. We don’t use television for our programming. Our calendar is very much run by the residents. If there’s something the residents want us to do, we do it. We’re very much on residents’ schedules, not our own,” concluded Nardulli.