At Sycamore Village, we believe that caring for those with advancing memory loss requires a thorough understanding of the individual. What their interests are, the things they enjoy, and the life they have lived. That’s why we make a special effort to work with families even before a loved one joins our community to develop his or her life story.
Prior to any move-in, the family and guest are asked to complete an 80-question life story survey. This collection of insights, interests, experiences and personal memoirs becomes our staff’s guide to providing a stimulating, sensitive environment that reflects each resident’s unique background, lifestyle and personality. Knowing and understanding the unique persons they are, even as their memory fades, allows us to better help residents maintain their individuality, dignity and sense of self-worth.
This life story is used on several levels. The most readily apparent are the life story plaques on display throughout the building that highlight 8-to-10 important facts about a particular guest. These include, preferred nicknames, past work experience, hobbies, favorite foods, names of children, etc. These life story plaques are also decorated with items that are relevant and personal to each guest and are used as tools to help them find their way.
This information is then used by our staff as conversation starters. As well as things to know and use if a person should suffer from sun downing and need calming. Life story information is incorporated into daily programming as well. For example, knowing that a guest’s favorite pastime was travel and their favorite destination was the Bahamas can turn into an entire day of dancing to island music, enjoying a special meal and viewing a photo tour of the islands.
Knowing our guests and making them feel safe is critical in decreasing dementia behaviors, enhancing communication and providing a feeling of home. It is also part of the Best Friends approach to care developed by international Alzheimer’s Care expert David Troxel, MPH and endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association.