Summer House at Villa Gardens: A Unique Approach to Life Enrichment

Category: Blog

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by Katherine Kennedy, MSG

Art created by residents at Summer House at Villa Gardens
Life enrichment programming is a vital component of our approach to memory care at Villa Gardens. Combined with a multi-faceted care philosophy, the success of life enrichment opportunities is achieved through focusing on individual needs, capabilities, and the interest level of each group participant. Cognitive status, diagnoses, general observations, and social behavior are all considerations when customizing activities for residents with dementia stages from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to late stage. When appropriate, groups are combined for certain programs such as live music entertainment and garden walks. To make sure we are matching a resident with the suitable environment and stimulation and thereby capitalizing on their strengths, we collaborate with a local psychologist to conduct neuropsychological assessments and therapy. 
Programs considered for Summer House must meet physical, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of wellbeing to ensure a holistic approach to memory care. In October, we introduced iN2L or “It’s Never Too Late,” a 70-inch smartboard designed to allow users, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities, to engage with touch screen technology. With its customized content geared toward life enrichment and wellbeing, it has expanded the ways that our team connects and interacts with residents. To create a personalized experience for each resident and care partner, a ‘My Page’ platform is included in the iN2L system allowing favorite music, games, photos and videos, even websites to be easily accessed.
To engage residents physically, iN2L includes programs like “Conductorcise,” cycling and chair dancing that also activate physical activity for residents in a way that is interactive. In addition in-person classes are taught such as chair Yoga, art, “Ageless Grace” and a drum circle.
Emotional and spiritual needs can be met through activities such as pet therapy, “PARO,” “Music and Memory,” aromatherapy and ceremonies such as religious communion. iN2L programs available to meet those needs include “Reminiscence,” “Pastimes,” “Comedy,” and “Radio and Commercials.” 
To maintain cognitive status as long as possible, iN2L features programs such as “Trivia,” “Sing Along w/ Susie Q,” “Travelogue,” “Guided Tours with Rick Steves,” lectures and special events. These activities also create a point of engagement with residents and allow care partners to learn more about our residents.
Lastly, socialization is an extremely important aspect of wellbeing especially for residents with dementia. New residents who move in often times have problems socializing in larger environments and may isolate themselves and decline physically and mentally as a result. To address this need we create opportunities for socializing through activities outings, special events, cultural days, and birthday luncheons.
One of the greatest feelings about living in Summer House is that our residents are surrounded by people they know – whether at a meal, an outing, or a “Celebration of Life.” We are family here and we try our very best to create a genuine and thoughtful approach to all the aspects of wellbeing for all our residents.
Do you have a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, what activities have you found helpful?
Visit the Front Porch Communities YouTube channel to find out more about the many life enrichment programs available at our Summer Houses:

KCBS Health Watch: A Special Robotic Pet Makes a Big Difference for People with Alzheimer’s Disease
iN2L comes to Sunny View

Music and Memory