Friendship Haven’s staff has put a lot of time, research and effort towards designing a building that will support individuals living with various types of advanced dementia. Now that our memory care residents have been moved into the new building, I’ve been thinking to myself what a typical day would be like through the eyes of a resident living in Journeys at Friendship Haven. The following is what I imagine it may be.
I wake up and wonder where I am. As I look around the room, I see familiar pictures and objects that mean something to me, which is somewhat comforting. As I begin to get out of bed, there is a knock on the door and someone comes in and greets me with a smile. I am not able to tell you this person’s name, but they are familiar to me and I feel they are someone I can trust. This nice person helps me to get dressed. She also helps me with my hair and makeup because she knows this is important to me.
She suggests that I eat some breakfast, so we leave the room and walk towards the kitchen. The rooms are well lit so I can see. The colors around me are warm and peaceful and I feel comfortable. I can smell bacon cooking, which makes me realize that I am hungry as I sit down. Someone greets me with a cup of coffee and caramel creamer which is my favorite. They ask what I would like for breakfast and make suggestions when I have difficulty choosing. There are other people also eating breakfast and reading newspapers, so I also decide to read the paper. After breakfast, I get up and walk around. I come upon a kind of general store that looks interesting, so I spend some time in there looking through all of the items. There are a couple things that I decide to take with me. No one seems to mind if I do.
I walk around some more and feel that there is something that I should be doing. A nice person tells me that they need some help to prepare lunch and asks if I would like to help. Several of us spend time peeling potatoes for lunch and reminiscing about cooking for families. After this, I help fold some laundry. It feels good to be useful.
I can smell bread baking, which makes me feel hungry. I am told it is time for lunch if I would like. Someone tells me that we are having meatloaf for lunch. I hate meatloaf, so I say I am not hungry, but this person offers to make me a grilled cheese sandwich. Grilled cheese does sound good, so I stay for lunch.
After lunch, I am tired, but I don’t want to be alone in a room. A nice woman helps me find a recliner in the living room. There is an interesting show on and I fall asleep watching this. When I wake up there seems to be several people ready to go somewhere. I hear they are going outside and they invite me to go with them. We go out on a patio and enjoy the sunshine. We are also served root beer floats. We can help with some gardening if we want, but I prefer to sit and soak up the sun. It gets kind of warm, so we go back inside. I feel restless and begin worrying about my children. Who is going to take care of them if I don’t go home? These nice people assure me that my kids will be visiting and know where I am. They sit and talk with me for some time and pretty soon I am comfortable being here and enjoying their company.
I notice some people playing cards in the living room. They ask me to join, but I don’t like cards and choose to work on a jigsaw puzzle instead. I am getting tired and begin looking for a place to lie down. This nice gal helps me find what she tells me is my room. She assures me that everything is planned and that my family knows I am staying the night. She helps me get ready for bed and even finds me a book to read. I drift off to sleep….
The new building is designed to make the world easier to navigate for a person with dementia. It is also designed to be more efficient so staff can spend time with the residents. However, the key element is the personal relationships that staff and residents build with each other. We are so excited to have a space that makes it easier for us to provide for our residents. Journeys at Friendship Haven is not just a home-like environment. It’s home.
Contributed By: Karen Ebelsheiser (Activity Director)