CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Navigating Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss or dementia with an elderly loved one requires skilled compassionate care in a comfortable environment that feels just like home.
The memory care program at The Haven at Sky Mountain, Southern Utah’s newest locally owned assisted living community, focuses on people-centered activities to stimulate the senses and promote physical, emotional and social well-being.
“Our program provides residents with a sense of accomplishment and purpose while also connecting them with a part of their personal history,” Andy Palmer, executive director of The Haven, said. “It’s really what sets us apart from other communities.”
At the heart of the memory care program lies the Montessori educational method, an approach originally developed for children. Palmer said that research has proven the efficacy of Montessori instruction for people with Alzheimer’s disease and various forms of dementia. Memory care at The Haven emphasizes self-directed, meaningful activities that reflect each resident’s interests and evolving abilities, and it focuses on engaging all five senses.
Visual games include matching words to objects, puzzles with recognizable landmarks and art classes where residents create colorful paintings of objects that are familiar to them – no previous art is required. In another challenge, they take turns being blindfolded and trying to identify different foods by smell and taste.
Along these lines, Palmer said that upon moving in, residents undergo an assessment to determine their food preferences. Family members will sometimes help in this process of identify comfort foods and favorite snacks, since providing meals residents enjoy is particularly important for those in the memory care program. They dine together multiple times each day, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences in a family-like environment.
In addition to discovering favorite foods, the intake assessment also explores each resident’s background, hobbies and career, and coordinators then tailor activities to their interests and abilities. A nostalgic desk, complete with a landline telephone and classroom supplies, was created for two residents: one an ex-principal and the other a former high school teacher and football coach.
Music is another especially popular activity with memory care residents, Palmer said, adding the ability to recognize music is one of the last to be affected by dementia. Residents dance and sing, and some enjoy playing the drums.
Aside from creative expression, activities at The Haven also focus on life skills. Residents can participate in simple and familiar tasks such as folding laundry or making repairs with hand tools. Many enjoy working together to set the group dining tables before each meal and then helping clean up afterward, Palmer said.
“These are all practical activities, but at the same time they give residents a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose that they look forward to throughout the day,” he said.
The Haven employs two full-time activity coordinators for the memory care program, and Palmer said their overall staff-to-resident ratio ensures everyone will receive the individualized care and attention they deserve and added that his staff has observed positive outcomes with their residents using the Montessori method.
Emphasizing the importance of socialization and group activities for memory care residents, he hopes to dispel the misconception that assisted-living communities are dull, lonely environments where seniors receive little interaction or enjoyment from their daily routine.
The Haven currently has 76 residents, 14 of which are part of the memory care program. In addition to the myriad activities, memory care residents can enjoy a spacious open floor plan with common areas, a group dining room and large bay windows to let in an abundance of natural light, and spectacular views of Zion National Park and the Pine Valley Mountains accent a dining patio, vegetable garden and fishing pond.
Palmer said The Haven is planning to expand in Hurricane as well as other locations in Southern Utah. Within the next few weeks, they will break ground on 18 independent living villas located across the street from the community. Residents will be able to enjoy all of The Haven’s amenities, including group activities and meals. A grand opening is anticipated in the spring of 2021.
Tours of The Haven’s resort-style amenities are limited for the time being due to COVID-19 concerns, and visitors are required to be screened prior to entering the facility. However, Palmer said anyone interested in learning more about memory care and their other services is always welcome to call their family advisor at 435-674-7883.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- The Haven at Sky Mountain | Address: 2192 W. 100 North, Hurricane | Telephone: 435-674-7883 | Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Website.
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