When she was caring for President Ronald Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan called their dementia journey “The Long Goodbye.” Sadly, far too many families are on that same road, filled with the same reality of losing people they love to dementia. As hard as it is to watch a loved one’s dementia progress, it also creates a challenge for family members to make decisions about how to care for that person.
Of course, you want the best care possible for your family member. But the stress of managing medications and keeping someone safe around the clock can be too much for many families. After all, giving up their jobs and other family obligations isn’t an option for most people. Even if you could leave your former life behind to become a full-time caregiver, you might wonder if your loved one would be better off with professionals who specialize in dementia.
After many months, and sometimes years, of failed attempts at rearranging lives while caring for a loved one with ever-increasing needs, many families turn to residential communities for assisted living and memory care.
“The decision to remove older loved ones from their homes and move them into a community strikes at the very heart of parent-child relationships,” said Sheryl O’Neal, community relations director at Ashley River Plantation. “After a while, though, most adult children express relief knowing that their parents are valued and cared for in a safe, secure and loving community.”
Laura Davis is the director of the Bridge to Recovery neighborhood at Ashley River Plantation. She began her career teaching at Montessori schools, and, since the Bridge to Recovery program is rooted in the Montessori philosophy, she has a unique background that makes her a perfect fit to direct the program.
“Our residents thrive in the environment we create daily,” Davis said. “We find that friendly faces, laughter, music and fresh flowers go a long way to enrich our residents’ days. Whether it’s kneeling to look directly into their eyes for a chat or going to the courtyard for fresh air and sunshine, it adds up to a more dignified and enjoyable life.”
Residents are encouraged to join in activities that they enjoy throughout each day. That focus on individual growth, self expression and emotional health is likely one of the reasons the Bridge to Recovery program has been awarded several “Best of the Best” awards by the Assisted Living Federation of America.
“The Bridge to Recovery empowers and enriches the lives of our residents,” O’Neal added. “It’s a joy to watch our staff engage with each cherished person.”
Ashley River Plantation is located at 2333 Ashley River Road in Charleston. To learn more, call 843-766-9898 or visit www.fivestarseniorliving.com.
By Erica Rodefer Winters