The most important advice I can give someone looking for care for a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to do your homework. Investigate each place carefully. Visit more than once, ask a lot of questions, and look around while you’re there. How does the staff engage with the residents? How many staff members are there and how many residents do they look after? How amenable is the staff to the things that bring joy to your family member or loved one?
This advice comes from Jolynn Hicks, whose husband Fred recently joined Our Family Home following a difficult experience at another memory care facility. Here’s what else Jolynn had to share about her journey with Fred, whom she lovingly calls her forever love.
My experience with Our Family Home has been completely different. The moment I walked in the door I knew it was the right place. It was open and airy. It felt familiar. I just loved the idea that Fred could watch people cook. Sit and eat at the dining room table. He could move around and interact with other people. Fred could also lie on the couch. This may seem like a small thing, but Fred has always been a sofa sleeper. In other centers, they wouldn’t allow him to do this.
Fred is also a wanderer. In many centers, this behavior is very challenging. However at Our Family Home, it’s accepted. Just as you would in your own home, there’s more freedom and ease to move around.
The staff at Our Family Home is a blessing. I enjoy getting to know them and appreciate the way they treat Fred. Since coming to Our Family Home, we’ve been able to reduce most of Fred’s medications from the hospital and he seems a little more Fred every day.
I used to feel a strong urgency to go check on Fred daily, but now I find myself pulling back a little bit. I know the staff at Our Family Home is committed to doing what they can to give Fred more good days. I know Fred will be OK.
Since the inception of Our Family Home, founder and CEO Evan DuBro has been advocating for the continuous improvement in the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia – both patients and families.
On May 9, Evan joined the Alzheimer’s Association as well as individuals and families to share personal stories with state legislators at the 2018 Memory Day at the Ohio Statehouse. In addition to office visits, the luncheon program included former Congressman Pat Tiberi and other guest speakers.
“I joined the Alzheimer’s Association advocacy committee in 2007 because I believe advocacy and telling our stories are key to greater advancements in this journey to end Alzheimer’s,” said Evan DuBro.
Evan and Our Family Home have participated in Memory Day for the last seven years. Additionally, Evan serves as a National Ambassador for Advocacy for the Alzheimer’s Association and has been invited by the organization to meet with members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
If you’re interested in finding more ways to support the journey to end Alzheimer’s, you may also enjoy this post from January 2018, “Joining Bill Gates in the Fight to Cure Alzheimer’s.”
Melissa Shannonhouse, LPN, CDP
Director of Residential Care Services, Our Family Home
What do you do for Our Family Home?
In many ways, I’m considered a nurse concierge. I oversee clinical nursing for Our Family Home and serve as another connection point for residents and families and physicians and third-parties. We get to know each person in our care and help connect them with the right resources based on their personality, disease and overall health. This may include hospice services, physical therapy or monitoring any behavior or health changes.
How long have you worked with Our Family Home?
I’ve been with OFH for four years in June! However, most of my career has been working with individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Definitely the residents. The most rewarding part of my work is watching the change that occurs in our residents when they come to Our Family Home. Seeing their behaviors change, their mood changes or a decrease in their medications. I enjoy seeing them regain livelihood.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family: hiking, going for walks and watching my son play baseball. I also enjoy spending time around horses. It’s very relaxing.
How have you been impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Yes, my grandmother had dementia growing up and more recently my sister-in-law was diagnosed.