Memory holds a vital place in our lives, defining our experiences and identities. As we observe Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we recognize the profound impact of memory-related challenges, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, on individuals and their families. As part of the Archdiocese of New York’s commitment to serving our communities’ vulnerable, ArchCare proudly oversees the Center for Advanced Memory Care at Ferncliff, the exclusive Montessori Credentialed Specialized Care Center for those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s in the Hudson Valley, New York.
Now, our organization is even prouder that the Center for Advanced Memory Care has achieved a Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® (MIL) Gold Level Credential, advancing our ongoing commitment to providing the highest quality care. Primarily focused on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care, the specially trained clinical team takes an individualized approach to enhance the cognitive abilities of residents and maintain the highest quality of life. Comprehensive care includes therapy for behavioral and mental health issues often associated with dementia, such as depression. Drawing upon the clinical capabilities of the entire ArchCare system, the Center for Advanced Memory Care is well-equipped to care for individuals with multiple clinical conditions.
At the root of the Center’s clinical approach is a partnership with the distinctive Montessori Method to promote autonomy, self-confidence, and overall wellbeing. The MIL program was created by the Center for Applied Research in Dementia (CARD) after one of its founders, Dr. Cameron Camp, adapted Dr. Maria Montessori’s principles for older adults with dementia. Guided by CARD, staff learned how to implement the Montessori principles of equality, dignity, and respect in their community. Staff were trained to empower residents with memory impairment to be as independent as possible. This is achieved through tapping into each resident’s remaining strengths, designing environments where they can thrive, and helping them find purposeful activities and meaningful roles within their community.
Communities effectively using Montessori principles, such as the Center for Advanced Memory Care, benefit from healthier and happier residents, fewer medications, less responsive behaviors, increased family satisfaction, and improved employee retention and census.
Beyond clinical care, the qualified and compassionate staff works to foster an environment of belonging and purpose for every resident at the Center for Advanced Memory Care. As such, staff members focus on getting to know residents individually, recognizing their interests, hobbies, and past experiences. By doing so, they are able to tailor activities and care plans that resonate with each resident, cultivating a sense of familiarity and comfort.
For Michelle Feller, the Assistant Administrator at Center for Advanced Memory Care, a particularly cherished memory about the facility and its residents is from the early days of role as a Recreation Specialist. A 98-year-old resident at the time had arrived at the facility and was not inclined to leave her room for any activities the entire first year she was there. Michelle, dedicated to making every resident feel as at home as possible, continued to encourage this resident to try a program. Reluctantly, the resident agreed to attend an art program, and she soon loved it. It became one of her favorite activities to do, and a year later, at 99 years old she made many pieces of artwork to give to her family. She even gave some of her artwork to Michelle, who keeps them in her office to this day.
Reflecting on the facility’s ongoing quest to serve as a beacon of hope for individuals living with memory-related disorders and the significance of receiving the MIL Gold Level Credential, Michelle said, “Our team has made remarkable progress on our journey towards achieving the highest Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® honor and earning the Gold Level credential. We are extremely proud of their hard work and dedication. We prioritize Montessori-inspired practices and principles because they positively impact the lives of our residents, enabling them to maintain their sense of purpose and independence. Our staff is delighted to use these incredible tools to engage and fulfill the lives of their patients every day.”
With an emphasis on enhancing independence and quality of life, Center for Advanced Memory Care ArchCare at Ferncliff offers residential, skilled nursing services for those requiring 24-hour care in a traditional nursing home setting, short-term rehabilitation that eases the transition from hospital to home following a serious illness, injury or surgery, and the Hudson Valley’s only specialized care center for people with neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease and ALS.
The facility is located on 36 park-like acres of the former Astor family estate in historic Rhinebeck, serving the Hudson Valley and beyond. Gold Level accredited organizations have met all Bronze and Silver Level target milestones.
A heartfelt congratulations to every team member at the Center for Advanced Memory Care for earning this tremendous honor and for their unwavering commitment to preserving the dignity and well-being of those in our care.
Understanding Memory Care Facilities
Memory care facilities are residential care homes that cater to individuals with memory-related disorders, offering specialized care, assistance, and safety measures tailored to their unique needs. Unlike traditional nursing homes or assisted living facilities, memory care units are specifically designed to support those with memory loss and cognitive decline.
Qualified and Compassionate Staff
The heart and soul of any memory care facility lie in its staff. Employing a dedicated team of healthcare professionals, including registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and trained caregivers, these facilities ensure that residents receive the best care possible. The staff undergoes comprehensive training to understand the complexities of memory-related illnesses, enabling them to create a safe, compassionate, and nurturing environment for residents.
One of the critical aspects of memory care is adopting a person-centered approach. Each resident is unique, with their own history, preferences, and challenges. Memory care facilities focus on getting to know their residents individually, recognizing their interests, hobbies, and past experiences. By doing so, the staff can tailor activities and care plans that resonate with each resident, fostering a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Stimulating Activities and Therapies
Memory care facilities strive to maintain a sense of normalcy in the lives of their residents. They offer a wide range of activities and therapies designed to stimulate the mind and engage residents in meaningful ways. These activities may include art therapy, music therapy, reminiscence therapy, gardening, and gentle physical exercises. Such interactions have been proven to slow cognitive decline, improve mood, and enhance overall quality of life.
Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment
For individuals with memory-related disorders, safety is of utmost concern. Memory care facilities are meticulously designed to be secure environments, with features such as controlled access, secure outdoor spaces, and attentive supervision. This not only protects the residents from wandering or accidents but also allows them to explore and move around freely, promoting independence and autonomy.
Family Involvement and Emotional Support
Families play an integral role in the lives of memory care residents. Understanding the challenges and emotional toll memory loss can take on families, memory care facilities offer support groups, counseling, and educational resources to help them cope with the changes in their loved one. Regular communication and involvement are encouraged to create a holistic support system for both residents and their families.
Memory care facilities are beacons of hope for individuals living with memory-related disorders, providing them with the care, compassion, and understanding they deserve. The selfless work of the staff in these facilities is nothing short of heroic, as they dedicate themselves to improving the quality of life for their residents. The important work done at memory care facilities is a testament to human kindness, empathy, and the unwavering commitment to preserving the dignity and well-being of those in their care. As we continue to raise awareness about memory-related illnesses, let us recognize and appreciate the unsung heroes who make a difference in the lives of these vulnerable individuals every day.