Staying Together Despite the Challenges of Dementia

Adjusting to Memory Loss Is Part of the Journey

When Richard and Margaret Hart downsized from their home to a studio apartment at Provision Living at Columbia, the move was an easier process than they expected. Richard, a retired entomology professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, had been researching options when it became apparent that Margaret needed extra support for issues related to memory loss.

Home health care worked well for both of them until Richard became unable to fully care for himself, let alone his wife. That’s when he knew that they needed a change, and fast. As he began contacting senior living communities, he was faced with the hurdle of long waiting lists and a frustrating lack of accommodation for their situation: Margaret needed memory care services, yet they wanted to stay together as a couple in their new residence.

When he discovered that a new assisted living and memory care community was opening on Chapel Hill Road, he promptly scheduled a visit. Provision Living’s new community was bright, welcoming and, most important, open to working with Richard to find a solution to fit their needs as a couple. Richard and Margaret became members of the Founder’s Club at Provision Living at Columbia, moving into their new home soon after.

When it was time for them to move into their new home, Richard had the support of the community. “Denise came out and walked through the house, and together we packed up the things that we thought Margaret would want to have,” explains Richard, discussing the moving coordination and assistance led by community relations manager, Denise Falco. “Within two hours everything was loaded up and moved into the apartment.”

Dementia Training Produces “Spectacular” Results

Memory loss and dementia can cause disorientation and agitation, especially with a change of environment. The associates at Provision Living at Columbia are trained by the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and have extensive hands-on experience when it comes to helping new residents feel comfortable in their new home.

Richard was more than happy with the welcome and support he and Margaret received during their move to the community. “Our arrival here was a pretty spectacular thing. Margaret was disoriented by all of this, but the way individuals interacted with her, it was almost like a stage play. I think by the time we’d eaten [lunch] and gotten back up to our apartment about five different people had interacted with her, and each time it brought her back and made her feel comfortable.”

The couple recently sold their house and most of their possessions through an estate sale. They even decided to sell of some of the items that they brought with them to the Columbia community, realizing that more “stuff” was not adding value to their lives. “Within three months of being here, this is now our home; that was our house,” says Richard, discussing his and Margaret’s decision to downsize. “She recognizes this, too.”

Keeping Couples Together Improves Wellbeing

Provision Living at Columbia is distinct from other senior living communities in our approach to memory care. For many couples, meeting the needs of the spouse suffering from memory loss means being separated from their life-long companion, which can exacerbate confusion and cause anxiety. It also creates a sense of loss and feelings of guilt for the more independent spouse when they can no longer care for their loved one and keep them safe in their home.

The team at Provision Living knows that keeping couples together is best for both individuals. It helps maintain the bonds of their relationship, allowing independent spouses to continue in their roles as husband or wife, knowing that trained caregivers are meeting the needs of the spouse with memory loss. Provision Living works with couples to help them stay together whenever possible while supporting the unique needs of each individual.

“I should have let go and let people help me.”

Though Richard admits that it was hard to let go of his role as caregiver, the peace of mind he received in return is immeasurable. “Margaret and I grew up in a culture where we did for ourselves. Meaning, before we came here we took care of one another, and after we moved here I kept trying to do for her when I should have let go and let people help me. I didn’t know that, but now I do. It took me a while to adjust to letting other people do for me what I was used to doing myself.” The couple has plans to transition from assisted living to a new apartment in the memory care neighborhood so that Margaret can be closer to Richard throughout the day.

Thanks to his positive experience, Richard recommends Provision Living for couples with vastly different needs, but who want to grow old together. “I am very pleased with the associates and the leadership team. The entire Community functions as a family, and the interaction is out of concern and everyone is supportive. There is a sense of community – a sense of family – that I never would have anticipated. All I know is when my mother was in nursing homes, there was space for a bed that was basically it. You didn’t have what we have here…and of course, the food is fantastic.”

A Community of Purpose

If you are exploring memory care options for yourself or a loved one, the associates at Provision Living are here to help. Our memory care services are designed to address the specific needs of individuals with memory loss. Everything from the building design and outdoor spaces to the social activities and dining experience are thoughtfully constructed to enhance the lives of our residents and their families.

Please contact Provision Living at Columbia for more information, 573-234-1091, or visit our website to find a community near you: pvl.wpengine.com.

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