Tanglewood Group Works To Provide Active, Engaging Environment For Those With Dementia

Pictured is Nicole Mucheck, Tanglewood Group executive director of activities, with a resident. Submitted photo

Dementia care is accessible and available for those with the disease, as well as those who care for them. Programming is varied for each individual, but many resources are available in the area, according to officials in the field.

Nicole Mucheck, Tanglewood Group executive director of activities, said such services are important because each person with dementia is unique and presents with different abilities and needs, and everyday tasks can be difficult. Those who live with and care for those with dementia are also facing a challenge.

However, to handle these challenges, certain changes can be made and programming is available locally to help, she said.

“There are ways that our environment can be structured to assist us with everyday tasks and maintaining our ability to continue to engage in meaningful activity,” Mucheck said. “The ability to remain active becomes increasingly important to one’s overall quality of life. One of the biggest ways we can help individuals living with dementia is to continue to engage their brain, providing stimulation and increasing their ability to remain purposefully involved in their surroundings.”

Creating moments that can assist loved ones or residents in sustaining their quality of life is important to decrease depression, anger and sadness, she added.

“Good dementia care involves developing preference based activities that are tailored to the resident’s interests by getting to know the resident and using the information we know about the resident,” Mucheck said. “Our jobs as caregivers become very important as our family members and loved one begin to age. Creating environments that are rich in culture, wellness and activity are important in increasing the elderly individuals overall quality of life. Here at the Tanglewood Group, we offer a wide variety of activity seven days a week, from morning to night to assist with creating a routine as well as social engagement.”

She said staff members are provided with dementia-specific training to assist in developing skills to increase positive relationships with residents. Programs offered include activities that appeal to all preferences including cognitive, sensory, music, physical, faith-based and craft activities. One-on-one activities are also provided.

Mucheck said programming attempts to engage family members as well, especially in the summer. In the summer months, Tanglewood hosts a summer concert series, and engages residents and family members in the outdoors with secure courtyards and golf cart rides through the park.

“Another one of our specialized programs we offer includes an art course specifically designed for those with dementia developed by the Alzheimer’s Association called ‘Memories in the Making,'” she said. “We really try to keep an active and engaged environment for our residents and staff, building relationships and continuing an overall positive quality of life.”

Support groups for caregivers are also available in the area, which are administered by the Western New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Shelby Edgerly, association director of early stage services, said there are five support groups in the area currently. Two are in Jamestown, two are in Dunkirk and one in Fredonia.

“They provide that support of people who understand what they are going through and also resources,” Edgerly said, adding it also helps to provide caregivers with tips and strategies on daily life. “All of our groups are fairly well attended.”

Likewise, the association holds educational classes and will also meet with families or those interested one-on-one. At times, social workers will also schedule appointments with individuals in their communities to go over information and resources, she said.

Edgerly said the best way to find out more about support groups and other information is to call the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-272-3900. Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the line is connected with the local office in Williamsville, while after 5 p.m. and on weekends, the line is connected with the national office. This way, information and assistance is available at all times, she said.

“The biggest thing is they can always call,” Edgerly said. “We’ll do our best to get them linked up with whatever their greatest needs are.”

Interested parties can also visit www.alz.org/wny.

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