On-Site Therapy Program Improve Outcomes for Alzheimer’s Sufferers

The Compass Program is designed to improve quality of life and meaningful interactions for seniors.

Seniors suffering from dementia experience a host of difficulties, from memory loss to confusion to changes in behavior and personality. The journey through dementia is different for each person, and experts agree that a one-size-fits-all approach to memory care is no longer a viable approach if we are to improve quality of life and encourage meaningful interactions for elders living with the disease.

Lauren Dempsey, the director of rehabilitation services at Genesis ElderCare Rehab Services, is leading a new on-site therapy program at Provision Living at Panama City Beach. The specialized program incorporates physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to create a customized plan for each resident.

The Compass Program, says Dempsey, is a dementia-focused program that allows therapists and clinicians to educate and inform families about appropriate dementia intervention strategies, a new ways of interacting with their loved one.

Therapists and staff are trained to recognize the various stages of dementia in order to provide optimum care.

“We are trained on the Global Deterioration Scale, a color-coded scale that helps us recognize the different stages and which intervention strategies are most fitting,” explains Dempsey. “We also create our care plans based on each stage as a way to improve quality of life, social interaction and engage residents and families in appropriate activities.”

On-site therapy programs also allow therapists to develop relationships with residents and visit with them in their home environment, increasing the functional outcome. “Our goal,” says Dempsey, “…is to help them achieve their maximum potential and independence and to preserve their mobility.”

Families are also included in the Compass Program’s education strategies. Each family receives a workbook entitled My True North where family members are encouraged to write down information about their loved one including hobbies, the activities that they enjoyed and their particular preferences for daily living.

“We ask each family to tell us about their loved one and about what their daily routines were, including how they spent their mornings and evenings,” says Dempsey. “This allows the entire care team – from the family members, to administrative staff to the housekeeping team – to be on the same page with intervention strategies and planning activities.”

Dempsey appreciates that the program is person-centered, focusing on each individual’s story, the people they loved and what brought them joy. “We re-create meaningful activities that touch on what residents enjoyed earlier in life. One resident, for instance, spent years working as a librarian and we created activities that center around those types of activities, like replacing books on bookshelves and creating and organizing library cards.”

Dempsey joined the Genesis staff in 2009 and transitioned to her position as director of rehab in 2014. She enjoys being connected to families and helping them create better outcomes for their loved ones. “I’m intertwined with families here at Provision Living,” she says. “For me, it’s an obligation to support those suffering from memory loss, as well as the families who are grieving the loss of the person they used to know. My heart is anchored here, helping to educate families on the appropriate intervention strategies for dementia. Once someone is armed with tools and knowledge necessary to provide quality interaction and care, they find that they are empowered by these strategies and once again feel connected to their loved one in different and new ways.”

For more information about about Genesis Rehab, the Compass Therapy program and other memory support services available at Provision Living at Panama City Beach, please contact the community at (850) 236-0510.

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