Today I am featuring the second part of Barbara’s interview on assisted living with Laurene Hartman
Barbara Friesner – Do all assisted living communities provide for someone with dementia?
Laurene Hartman – By and large, the answer to that
question is yes. Most assisted living providers do have separate
neighborhoods where they care for more moderate to advanced residents
with cognitive issues. At Sunrise, we believe it’s not enough that
someone with cognitive, or more severe cognitive issues is in a secure,
safe setting. We believe it’s also how they’re treated, it’s how we
best manage their situations, and how we educate the families to really
be able to get the most out of their love one in this very trying
journey. So it’s a real, real strong presence in our community.
BF – And I think that’s something Sunrise does particularly
well – that it’s a place where someone with cognitive issues is living
and not just a place where they’re “warehoused”. I think its important
that when you’re going to look at a community, you look at the
Reminiscence area – whether you think you could possibly need it for
your loved one or not.
LH – You really want an environment that will bring
the individual back to life, because there are so many things that all
of these people contributed to life and they enjoyed doing and you
know, we want to bring those things back to life. We want to breathe
life back into those families and their loved ones, and you know again,
live versus exist.
BF – You mentioned the different levels of care. What
point would they need the higher level of care and what do the levels
LH – The different levels go from medication
management up to and including total activity of daily living
assistance. We can feed that resident, brush their teeth, comb their
hair, pick their clothing – we can provide total Activities of Daily
Living (ADL) care. Same thing in Reminiscence area. We can care for
most residents till end of life. However, that’s not necessarily true
for all assisted living communities so that’s extremely important to
check out before your loved one checks in.
Also . . . Someone that has a true skill need would then have to go
into a nursing environment and that might include someone on a
ventilator, has a feeding tube, needs continuous intravenous therapy.
Those are circumstances that require a skilled nurse 24-hours a day,
and we in the state of New Jersey, in so far as assisted living’s go,
are not licensed to care for that type of resident.
However, some of those circumstances are temporary. Someone might
need a feeding tube temporarily because of a surgical procedure. They
would recover, go to rehab, and return to their home at Sunrise, or
whatever provider. So again, if some of those things were permanent,
they would require a skilled nursing environment. Remember, a nursing home is a medical model, assisted living is a social model, and that’s really the definition.
BF – Whether because of health or finances, is there a
point when a resident can’t stay in an assisted living any more, and if
so, then what?
LH – We do everything in our power so they don’t
have to move – as I’m sure, do most communities. If that’s not
possible, the administrators, my executive director, and more often
myself, we will help families find the appropriate environment. Just
like when they started their journey for finding an assisted living, it
has to be the right fit, and we want to give families choices. So
again, I am a big part of that process with my families, I have strong
relationships in the community with all of my colleagues and all of the
providers since I’ve been at that community almost nine years.
Again, it’s important to find the right community. That means the
community that will meet their needs for as long as your loved one is
there and people who will find the right environment based on the needs
of a particular resident should the community no longer be able to