In turn, Michalski, who actually has been part of The Woods’ three senior communities for a decade, has brought smiles, warmth, enthusiasm and encouragement to residents, staff and family members.
The 97-year-old former Erie resident even had a suggestion after she read information on a series of seminars focusing on “The Face of Alzheimer’s.”
“She said she doesn’t want to be called ‘The Face of Alzheimer’s.’
The Woods’ Memory Care Program helps residents and their families deal with the effects of memory loss. The program impacts lives year-round, but takes on added significance in November, which is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month.
Michalski’s love of music, fashion, nature and reading has brightened the Memory Care Program. She had resided in The Woods’ Independent Living and Senior Living communities prior to entering the Memory Care Program.
Michalski once earned a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, though circumstances prevented her from attending the prestigious school. She worked at a women’s dress shop, sparking her interest in fashion. Her love of reading helped Irene build her own personal library.
Later, with her husband, Charles, she and her family lived in New York and Michigan as well as Peru and Chile in South America. Now, The Woods at Cedar Run is home.
“She has bridged the gap,” Seifried said. “We at the Woods focus on the words community and neighborhood. Even though she has made the transition to the Memory Care neighborhood she is still a vibrant member of the entire community.”
The IntegraCare Memory Care Program has six primary objectives:
· To provide opportunities for meaningful activities promoting quality of life.
· A focus on remaining skill and abilities.
· Create an environment that facilitates a sense of belonging.
· Provide opportunities that ensure purposeful use of time.
· Support positive behaviors and reduce risk of incidents of negative behavior.
· Provide an experience for verbal and non-verbal communication.
“A person with memory loss is first and foremost a person, and then someone living with a disease,” Seifried said. “We need to listen to that person crying out that they’re still here. They’re still here in every sense.
“It’s not just our staff listening,” she added, “but our whole community listening to that person saying, ‘I’m still here, accept me as I am.’”
Residents are encouraged to participate in productive work typical of their former lifestyle as part of the Memory Care Program. Family members provide a Resident Profile to assist in this area.
Recreational activities and memory and sensory activities are integrated into the structured daily routine. The dining services program promotes independence by providing and serving appropriate foods and portions.
“Our goal is to make sure that our whole community is aware that Alzheimer’s is here. It can’t be prevented right now, it can’t be cured and it can’t be stopped,” Seifried said. “But we can help face it. We need to face it as a group working together until there is a day that Alzheimer’s is cured.”
For more information, contact Julia Seifried, IntegraCare Corporation Regional Memory Care Program Coordinator, at 717.737.3373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Web visit www.integracare.com or follow us on Facebook. The Woods at Cedar Run is located at 824 Lisburn Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011.