Leslie Saul & Associates often works on the design of senior care facilities throughout the United States. Therefore, we are keenly aware of the needs and challenges associated with creating spaces where people suffering from Alzheimers can live beautifully and safely.
We are currently working on a project for The Cambridge Homes a senior living facility right here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Helene M. Quinn, MSN, RN the Executive Director of The Cambridge Homes recently sent out this letter reporting back from the International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International. We thought it was worthy of sharing with our readers.
Dear Families and Friends,
Earlier this year Senior Living Residences (SLR), the company that manages our community, sent several representatives to the 26th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in Toronto, Canada. I wanted to share some of what we learned at the conference with you given the rising incidence of this disease.
The conference opened with calls to address the growing global epidemic of Alzheimer’s with a new focus on prevention and psychosocial interventions as a way to stave off the devastating effects of the disease. Some scientists are saying that, while rigorous studies need to be done, psychosocial interventions may be as effective in treating the symptoms of dementia as current medications, and that diet and exercise can play a major role in the prevention of dementia. SLR was thrilled to hear that the company’s long-standing focus on treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease with unique programming rather than medication is gaining more attention among leading international researchers.
Several prominent researchers reported their findings on the potentially powerful role that diet can play in reducing the risk of dementia and slowing its progression, including our own Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo. Putting research into practice in our dining room, we have introduced recipes based on the precepts of Dr. Lombardo’s Memory Preservation Nutrition Program with rave reviews from our residents about the quality of our dining program. The Cambridge Homes and other Massachusetts communities managed by SLR are the first in the U.S. to implement this program.
Another major conference theme was that treating symptoms through “psychosocial interventions” offer new hope in the absence of a “magic pill” to cure Alzheimer’s. Several presenters described programs designed to empower individuals with dementia to participate in the management and treatment of their disease. Researchers from the Murray Alzheimer’s Research and Education Program in Canada noted that people with dementia can continue to learn, adjust to their illness, play a role in their own care, and live meaningful lives when supported properly. SLR believes in this concept wholeheartedly – we see it every day in the people we care for and it is at the very core of the programming the company offers.
Additionally, a researcher from the Center for Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia at New York University reported that a museum visiting program for people with dementia and their caregivers showed significant improvement in mood and enhanced self-worth of both groups of individuals. This groundbreaking study is the first formal evaluation of an intellectually stimulating program aimed at improving the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease. SLR- managed communities participate in a similar museum program at the Museum of Fine Arts called “Access to Art”. As you know we also have developed and launched other intellectually stimulating programs, including our own curriculum-based program called “Reconnections” which presents a new learning topic every single week, as well as our long-standing poetry and drama workshops.
SLR was very encouraged to learn that our internal program development efforts, particularly those focusing on psychosocial interventions for residents and their family caregivers, are consonant with the views of leading international scientists. We knew we were headed in the right direction with a non-pharmacological approach encompassing diet and nutrition, psychosocial interventions, and exercise to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It is our hope that world-renown researchers continue to study ground-breaking treatment programs such as ours so that we can improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s.
Helene M. Quinn, MSN, RN
We have been following an amazing series on Alzheimer’s on our local NPR station. The series is a fascinating look at the disease, current medical research and funding. Click here to visit the WBUR website and learn more.