Meridian Senior Living communities recognize National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November by supporting the Alzheimer’s Association’s research and the Validation Training Institute. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan dedicated November to Alzheimer’s disease to increase awareness and demystify fallacies surrounding the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2022, there are more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and the total cost in the U.S. associated with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022 is estimated at $321 billion. In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s disease deaths. Additionally, Alzheimer’s disease follows a 14-year course and goes untreated for half of that time, screening is vital as intervention is most effective during the early course of the disease, and healthy lifestyles help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the disease has become increasingly important in helping afflicted family members, and loved ones experience better outcomes.
“When someone in the family has dementia, it changes everything”, states Sue Johnston, VP Program Development. “We understand the challenges you face and know that it is essential for you to have support, education, and an understanding of how important it is to take care of yourself.”
Throughout the year, Meridian communities support the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness and funds to advance the care, support, and research efforts. Founded in 1980, “the Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.” Each year Meridian Senior Living communities across the nation form teams and actively join the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day to support its mission to fight Alzheimer’s and honor someone living with the disease.
Meridian communities are also active supporters of the Validation Training Institute (VTI) and their work to train and educate people on effective communication techniques with residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Founded by Executive Director Naomi Feil in 1983, VTI is a U.S.-based, not-for-profit organization that offers progressively developed certification levels and training programs in addition to a network of national and regional Validation organizations. Validation is a method of communicating with and helping cognitively impaired seniors that allows them to express, both verbal and non-verbal, their often-suppressed feelings and needs. Meridian communities hold fundraisers throughout the year to support VTI. The latest event in October was an Annual Resident Art Auction. Each Meridian community hosted its own art auction featuring distinguished masterpieces created by its residents.
To offer families and caregivers strategies to cope with the challenges Alzheimer’s disease presents, Meridian communities host free sessions: Caregiver Café and Mini Dementia Workshops based on Meridian’s exclusive memory care programming: Montessori Moments in Time (MMIT). The goals of MMIT are to enhance living for those with memory challenges by using the five directional paths. Each directional path has the resident and family in mind to encourage independence and helps deal with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.
The Caregiver Café program offers an opportunity for caregivers of loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia to participate in a forum to ask questions while being surrounded by others in the same situation. Community onsite experts serve as a resource to provide support for the caregivers and to help them better understand their loved one’s condition. Common topics include: “Alive Inside,” Tips for the Holidays,” and “Care for the Caregiver.”
Understanding the challenges caregivers of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia face daily, onsite experts run free Mini-Dementia workshops that cover topics of importance to caregivers. Each month, the workshops cover a different topic regarding memory impairment. Sample topics include: “Three Stages of Alzheimer’s,” “Holiday Tips for Caregivers,” and “What is Dementia?”.
Scheduled times and chef-prepared meals for these free workshops vary by community location. Since there are limited spaces in these workshops, interested participants should reserve their spot by contacting a community near them.