Bringing the Pieces Together: Memory Care and Personal Care Make a Good Fit

Lillian Swann has put together the puzzle pieces of an exciting life over the last 92 years—one filled with a love of books, word games, her late husband, children, great- and great-great-grandchildren—and even puzzles themselves.

Five days a week for the past six years, Lillian has enjoyed these activities at our South Burlington Adult Day Memory Care Program (ADP).

“I like it here,” Lillian said, as an ADP caregiver placed a cup of coffee in her hand. “They treat me well.”

Lillian has experienced slow-advancing memory impairment over the past decade. When her husband died in 2007, she moved in with her son Bill here in Vermont where she qualified for Choices for Care, a Medicaid long-term care program for Vermonters who need a nursing-home level of care.

“I was working at the time, so finding a place for her to go during the day was important,” Bill said. “It gives me peace of mind knowing she’s interacting with people other than just me.”

Even though Bill, now 65, is no longer working, Lillian still catches an SSTA bus each day to ADP, finding companionship with her peers.

“Coming here gives me something to do rather than sitting at home all day long,” Lillian said.

She follows a steady routine, starting her day off with a visit from a Home Health & Hospice personal care attendant (PCA) for a shower, dressing and bed change. These Choices for Care services offer Bill respite from the ongoing care he provides for his mother.

“He takes care of me like I used to take care of him,” Lillian said, expressing a common role reversal for adult children caring for a parent in memory care.
PCA and memory care services are two pieces of Lillian’s puzzle that intertwine nicely. At ADP, she eats nutritious meals and receives medication management. Without this structured routine, both would be
a challenge.

A diabetic, Lillian started at ADP with extremely high blood sugar. The onsite ADP nurse worked with Lillian’s physician and ADP caregivers to modify her diet: ADP meals and snacks now provide 70 percent of her daily nutritional needs.
The result? Lillian lost weight and takes less insulin.

“She’s healthier now than when she started with us at age 87, which shows the value of having an onsite nurse,” ADP Manager Diane Olechna said. “Lillian’s physical, emotional and mental health have all improved.”

According to Olechna, such improvements are common among ADP participants. The services loved ones receive at ADP allow them to stay at home longer, despite their increasing memory issues and age. The person-centered care also stabilizes individuals and helps keep them out of the hospital.

Some days, Lillian prefers to sit on the outskirts of group activities and focus on a puzzle or a word game. Allowing her to do so is part of ADP’s person-centered approach. Participants socialize in an interactive environment but can also find their own niche to stimulate their minds and fine motor skills.

As 5 pm nears, ADP participants begin trickling out as Lillian awaits her ride—while working on her latest puzzle.

This story was first published in our winter community newsletter, Healthcare Comes Home. To see the full newsletter, click here.