How They Grew Up

The living room at our Dublin Longview home.

The home my mom grew up in was nice; a ranch with three bedrooms. However, there was no bonus room, no projector screens, no cappuccino machines. Her childhood home was simple. A radio and a turn table. Later a black and white television, then color when I was young.

Yet pick up a brochure from many of today’s memory care centers and you see a host of modern amenities: bright lights and large chandeliers, in-house movie theaters, spas, a 24-hour bistro. Amenities foreign to the way our parents grew up and especially challenging for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

As caregivers, it’s important to remind ourselves that individuals with Alzheimer’s likely will be able to recall personal and historic events from their childhood or young adult years more clearly than from the current day.

While adults with Alzheimer’s disease have challenges with short-term memory, often their remote memory can be left relatively intact. In other words, they’re able to remember events from decades ago, but are unable to tell you what they ate for breakfast.

While it’s very easy to get swayed by beautiful photos of piazzas, golf courses and courtyards, it’s important to picture the life our loved one may be experiencing in their mind.

I love when families tell me that their spouse or parent believes they are living in their own home because I know one of the greatest benefits of Our Family Home is that our residents can relate to and connect with the environment.

The secure, back patio at our Dublin Longview home.

Our homes feel familiar and comfortable, which helps reduce irritability and discomfort in people with Alzheimer’s. We often see changes in the demeanor of our residents after living in our homes. They’re more comfortable where they can eat at the kitchen table, relax in the family room and sit on the back porch.

If you have a loved one in memory care or are considering memory care, I encourage you to look past the flashy photos and ask yourself this important question, “Is this similar to the environment they grew up in or where they raised their family?”