Home Discover Senior Living Being Accepted with Dementia at Senior Living, Part 1

Being Accepted with Dementia at Senior Living, Part 1

Michelle Cornelius at Cogir Senior Living

Michelle Cornelius, VP of Memory Care at Cogir Senior Living, joins Suzanne to talk about helping those with dementia adjust socially and find their fit in their senior living community.

Michelle says, “Their nonverbal communication skills increase, and they do a really good job of picking up on how others around them feel. And so if they walk into a dining room and they feel like they’re being ostracized, they’re not very likely to want to come back to the dining room, because they know that they don’t fit in. And so when we can join people together in pairs or groups or in areas where they can be themselves, it’s much more comfortable. It’s great to be in a group of folks who have early memory loss, even may not be living in memory care yet, but they all recognize that they have issues, and I’ve had people say to each other, ‘I’m losing this, this is going, I don’t remember it anymore. Have I told you this before?’ And I know they’ve told the story before, but the other resident says they haven’t heard it. It’s great to be in that setting where you’re accepted.

“They may not know the other residents names, but you’ll see ladies holding hands, walking down the hall, and they gravitate to the same person every time, even in early memory loss. If you feel comfortable with the person, this is who I’m going to find as my support. It also helps the environment feel safer, because now there’s somebody else here that I’m gonna stick with, and somebody else with me when I’m feeling lost, or don’t know where I am.”

Regarding what you as a loved one can do to help them adjust to living in memory care, Michelle says, “Participate in the life of the community. When you visit, don’t go lock yourself behind a door in the person’s apartment or their room. Join in the activities, join in the meals. And when you’re going to leave, don’t say goodbye. Consider when you walk in the door, the hug you give them when you walk in, that’s your goodbye hug too. Leave them with a good feeling, and that means they’re involved in an activity, they’re involved in a meal, they’re doing something that brings them joy. And now you’re just going to go, and it can be a 10 minute visit. It doesn’t have to be a two hour visit.”

The Vitality Revolution podcast series is sponsored by Humana.

Hear more:
Michelle Cornelius episodes on Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/tag/michelle-cornelius/
Social Wellness episodes: https://answersforelders.com/vitality-revolution/social-wellness/
Occupational Wellness episodes: https://answersforelders.com/vitality-revolution/occupational-wellness/

Learn more:
Cogir Senior Living: https://www.cogirseniorliving.com/
Michelle Cornelius: https://cadencesl.com/cadence-living-hires-michelle-cornelius-as-vp-of-memory-care-engagement/
The Vitality Revolution podcast series: https://answersforelders.com/vitality-revolution/
Humana: https://www.humana.com/
Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/welcome-to-answers-for-elders/

You can reach Michelle Cornelius at mcornelius@cogirusa.com.

Answers for Elders is part of the SeniorResource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/