Juniper Communities’ Innovative Small-House Model

Small-House Model

Small-House Model

by Diane Byrne

There is a growing understanding of what makes a successful environment for seniors living with memory impairment.  The elements that can make a difference in the lives of those with dementia are not that complicated and can be encapsulated in two words – connectedness and a sense of home.  The small-house model or cottage model has been found to be the most successful environment in providing that sense of home, connectedness, and ultimately, happiness.  Juniper Communities has served as an innovator in pioneering the small-house model within their memory care communities.  Juniper continues to believe that this model remains the gold standard in memory care.

Juniper has been well ahead of the trend as we have owned and operated two types of small house models for more than a decade.  Two of our small-house models, Aurora and Louisville, both in Colorado, were purpose built by Juniper in 1999 and 2000 respectively, as part of our initiative to provide leading-edge care to residents living with memory impairments. These two communities include four small houses, each with 12 or 13 rooms, virtually all private, surrounding a town hall area. Each town hall provides destination locations consisting of multiple familiar spaces such as an office suite, game room, library, country store, and gymnasium, where residents from all houses can go for additional services or programs. In this model, where the houses are linked, all staff are readily available to assist if needed.

In both models, residents at Juniper’s communities live within a short walk to the living room, kitchen and dining areas.  The environment is homelike; there are no nurses’ stations and no medication carts that block the hallways.  Staff wear polo shirts, not scrubs, and are trained to engage residents in activities of daily living, as well as social and recreational activities.  In both models, there are large, accessible and safe outdoor spaces surrounding the community.

Ultimately it is all about relationships.  The small-house model of care becomes a true community for a group of seniors and staff. It focuses on nurturing the spirit of life, and its heart is found in the relationships that thrive there. Juniper’s goal via the small house model has always been and continues to be to serve as a place where seniors can receive assistance and support with activities of daily living and care, without the assistance and care becoming the focus of their life.  And ultimately to provide the key elements to successful memory care – connectedness, home, and happiness!

Music & Memory: Juniper Communities Uses Innovative Approaches

Music & Memory

Music & Memory

by Diane Byrne

The statistics on caregiver stress and burn-out are overwhelming.  Support groups sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association or community groups can be key to managing stress.   Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care offers solutions similar to those experienced by one of the Alive Inside profile families – a secure, homelike care setting which allows the family caregiver to participate to the degree that they choose and are able.

One program that we have recently instituted in all of our memory care communities is Dan Cohen’s Music & Memory.  We recommend learning about and using this program in any care setting – at home, day programs, or long-term care communities.  Research shows that persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, can reconnect to the world and gain improved quality of life from listening to personal music favorites.

At Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care all residents have access to music players. Upon move-in, we ask family members to provide us with a list of a resident’s favorite songs from their young-adulthood which we load onto their player.  Finding the right combination of “what works” is critical.

If you would like to speak with someone about a long-term or temporary respite stay for your loved one in a secure Memory Care facility, would like more information about implementing a Music & Memory program at home, or would like to make a donation of music players or iTunes gift cards to facilitate our program, contact Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care.


8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

by Diane Byrne

Memory changes are normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia are more than simple lapses. People with Alzheimer’s experience problems communicating, learning, thinking, and reasoning that eventually become severe enough to impact an individual’s work, social activities, and family life. However, new research has shown there are ways to reduce the risk of memory problems; below is a list of 8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk.

1.   Stay Active. The Case Western Reserve School of Medicine 25-Year Study tracking the development of dementia in a convent of nuns found they had a 150% greater risk of dementia if they did not pursue physical activities. Include aerobic activity and strength training in your daily routine, or simply walk, garden, shop the mall – anything that keeps you moving.

2.   Exercise Your Mind. The same Case Western Study found that they had a 250% greater risk of dementia if they did not pursue intellectual activities. An active brain produces new dendrites or connections which help the brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter your age. Learn a foreign language, volunteer, read or play scrabble.

3.   Dance the Night Away. A recent study showed that dancing specifically decreases incidence of dementia, probably because the interaction between multiple parts of the brain; balance, rhythm, hearing, and vision, has a strengthening impact on cognitive function.

4.   Learn Relaxation Techniques. Stress and anxiety interfere with concentration. Try massage, yoga, or breathing methods to help you regain your calm.

5.   Have a Good Laugh Every Day. The old expression “laughter is the best medicine” has been confirmed by medical researchers. Laughter actually opens the blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart and to the brain, so watch a funny movie, tell a joke, or simply share a laugh with a friend.

6.   Control Blood Sugar Levels. A growing body of evidence links diabetes with Alzheimer’s. Poor blood sugar control dramatically increases the risk of dementia. Diabetes-related toxins may worsen memory function, and diabetes medications may reduce insulin-related brain cell processes. Your best bet is to eat a healthy, low-sugar diet to forestall the one-two punch of diabetes and dementia.

7.   Watch What You Eat. All of the nutritional advice for a healthy heart also makes for a healthy brain, so limit your fats and carbohydrates, maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, and limit your salt intake; the theory is that reducing inflammation reduces the “strain on the brain”.

8.   Maintain Social Connections. Multiple studies have shown that maintaining social ties decreases the risk of dementia and slows the progression. Getting together with friends and family, and joining social groups, strengthens emotional and cognitive function.

If you or a loved one wants to learn more about these 8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, contact Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care.  We offer many innovative brain health screening and support programs.


10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

by Diane Byrne

Memory changes are normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are more than simple lapses. People with Alzheimer’s experience problems communicating, learning, thinking, and reasoning that eventually become severe enough to impact an individual’s work, social activities, and family life. It is critical for people with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible. To help recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, below is a checklist of 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.

1.   Memory Loss. One of the most common signs of early dementia is forgetting recently learned information. While it’s normal to forget appointments, names or telephone numbers, those with dementia will forget such things more often and not remember them later.

2.   Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks; they may not know how to prepare a meal, use a household appliance, or engage in a lifelong hobby.

3.   Problems With Language. Everyone struggles for the right word at times, but a person with Alzheimer’s often forgets even common words or substitutes odd words.

4.   Disorientation To Time And Place. It’s normal to forget what day it is or where you’re going sometimes, but people with Alzheimer’s can become lost on their own street. They may forget where they are and how they got there, and may not know how to get back home.

5.   Poor Or Decreased Judgment. Those with Alzheimer’s may wear several shirts on a warm day or very little clothing in cold weather. They also often show poor judgment about money, giving away large sums or paying for repairs or products they don’t need.

6.   Problems With Abstract Thinking. Balancing a checkbook can be challenging, but a person with Alzheimer’s may forget what the numbers represent and what to do with them.

7.   Misplacing Things. Anyone can misplace a wallet or key, but person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places, like keys in the freezer or a phone in the fruit bowl.

8.   Changes In Mood Or Behavior. Anyone can be moody at times, but someone with Alzheimer’s often has rapid mood swings, from calm to sad to angry, for no apparent reason.

9.   Changes In Personality. Attitudes do adjust some with age, but a person with Alzheimer’s can change dramatically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent.

10.  Loss Of Initiative. It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations at times, but a person with Alzheimer’s may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to do usual activities.

If you or a loved one recognize any of these 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s, contact Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care.  We offer home visits and clinical assessments to help you better understand your care and support needs.