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Bethesda Recognizes National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

In 1983, President Reagan declared November National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At the time, not much was known about the mysterious brain disease, which afflicted 2 million Americans. Today, approximately 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia (47 million people worldwide).

While the numbers have increased, we now know much more about the disease and how to treat it so patients can lead the most productive, satisfying lives. Because the majority of Alzheimer’s patients are older than 65, we at Bethesda Senior Living Communities dedicate many of our resources to caring for residents with the disease.

“Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease,” explained Michelle Ingerson, Vice President of Health Services and Positive Approach Certified Trainer. “Signs may show up when the person is still in their home, and they may be able to take some medication to prolong its progression. We also see early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia in our assisted living communities. In those early stages, sometimes all the person needs is a little help with daily tasks or someone to check in on them.”

As the disease progresses, however, Alzheimer’s patients will eventually benefit from a dedicated care community, which we offer in many Bethesda communities.

“A memory care community provides more intensive care as well as specialized activities to assist with the residents’ physical and psychological needs,” Julie Giancaspro, Memory Care Director at Bethesda Gardens Fort Worth and Positive Approach Certified Trainer continued. “Over the past several months, we’ve been introducing Teepa Snow’s Positive ApproachTM, which is a type of unique training that helps us better serve our residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.”

Teepa Snow’s approach is a program that guides how memory care teams interact with residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. For instance, one symptom of Alzheimer’s is impaired vision, so Teepa Snow’s training emphasizes the need for our team members to make sure we approach our residents from the front, rather than the side or rear, so as not to startle them.

“We make sure to ask permission to assist with activities, whether it’s brushing a person’s hair or teeth or guiding them down the hall,” Emily West, Memory Care Director at ViewPointe, said. “That way, the resident still maintains the freedom to say yes or no and participate in their care. The Teepa Snow approach is about maintaining that freedom and agency, and since we began implementing the approach, we’ve seen great results with our residents.”

To learn more about Bethesda’s approach to memory care, visit our memory care page or find a community near you. And this November, be sure to check out the Alzheimer’s Association to find out events near you and how you can support research and treatment.