by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Small is important for Iris Memory Care, located in Edmond.
“We feel that those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as research has shown, do better in a small environment with a lower staff to resident ratio,” said Jessie Motsinger, marketing director.
Iris Memory Care opened in October, and is assisted living that specializes in the care of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia such as cognitive impairment which someone might face after a stroke.
Iris Memory Care is designed to offer a home environment as opposed to an apartment style assisted living. The two buildings house up to 20 residents each.
“We built our communities to have very open floor plans,” Motsinger said. “So it’s very easy for the residents to see where they need to go. And also for those that need to wander and walk, it’s easy for them to do so while making sure the staff can still keep an eye on them.”
Residents may wander freely, even as their dementia becomes quite advanced, Motsinger said. Iris Memory Care does everything it can from its physical environment to its types of care strategies to make sure everything possible is being provide to manage dementia within its two buildings. Two care environments are offered. The newest of the buildings is for higher functioning adults. They are more likely to carry on conversations and develop friendships, Motsinger said. There might be more energetic activities that are more cognitive challenging, versus those who are in the more advanced stages of disease who need more focused attention, Motsinger continued.
“They need more activities geared toward just stimulation,” she said. They are provided with opportunities like message or even someone sitting and speaking with them, even if they do not talk back, Motsinger said.
“We also do a lot of things; we utilize aroma therapy, pet therapy. We use music a lot, we use different types of music at different times of the day with softer music in the evenings,” Motsinger said.
Iris Memory Care also utilizes an activities program called iCan, a program that has been developed from the experience of the CEO who has been providing memory care for 35 years.
“Our activities range from getting people up every couple of hours and doing stretches, walking, and also making sure they are moving as much as they can.” Motsinger said. Creative activities are offered such as Bingo. But instead of hearing a number, the residents hear a song. Residents enjoy using their brains that way. There are sing along sessions.
Monthly education seminars are offered on the campus so that primary caregivers may have support groups.
“We host once a month educational topics for someone caring with dementia,” Motsinger said. “So we’ve had estate planning discussion, caregiver burnout and how you can prevent falls and fractures.”
Dana Barnes, RN, director of nurses and wellness, has worked in multiple care environments since graduating from Wichita State University in 2003. She said nursing offers opportunities to learn about many aspects of life.
“When I was in nursing school, they kept giving me the elderly,” Barnes said. “I went to my teacher and said you keep doing this to me,” Barnes recalled.
At that time, she wanted young and active patients. But she was told she works well with the elderly. She understands and takes her time. Barnes didn’t think so at the time.
“I just keep gravitating back,” she said. “I’ve done dialysis, and a lot of the population on dialysis is older. Barnes found she loves making an impact on the lives of older adults. She loves listening to their stories.
“They just like to talk,” she said. “I’m somebody who actually likes to listen to what they have to say. We don’t shove them in a corner and say, ‘Read this. I don’t have time for you.’ They want to be treated like the human beings that they are.”
Barnes is one who regularly stays in contact with family members. In fact, families from other communities where she has worked will drop by Iris Memory Care to seek her advice and counsel. They also let her know when someone has passed so they may attend the funeral.
She is free with her hugs and enjoys sitting with the residents to get to know them individually.
“Once they can’t speak for themselves, she still tries to figure out what’s going on with them.” Motsinger said. “And how we can reach them, and share that with our staff.”
She meets them where they are in life.