Warr Acres Nursing Center Director of Nursing Terry Reynolds, RN, says outdoor activities will help residents living with memory loss.

by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
A new day in the world of memory care is coming to the Warr Acres Nursing Center, said Terry Reynolds, RN, and director of nursing. A memory care environment will open soon and will offer a memory care environment for people living with memory loss due to types of dementia.
He anticipates this new environment for people living with memory loss will open in May.
“Alzheimer’s is the defining word and we’re looking at the whole umbrella of the dementias and memory impairment,” Reynolds said.
In his nursing history, Reynolds opened one of the first memory care facilities in the state of Oklahoma. He has also done extensive work with the Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma.
“I worked in the memory care environment for quite some time,” he said.
But the teaching he started has evolved over time with more empathy and understanding of the patients’ needs. People are living much longer in today’s world. So memory diseases are becoming more common than they once were. Coupled with that is the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is increasing in population. More care is needed. Also the younger onset of dementia is being recognized more frequently.
“We still are limited on treatment as far as medication,” Reynolds added. “But with that being said, one thing that can help is the proper environment for memory care.”
People can be fostered to have a better life while living with memory loss. An environment design such as the new memory care center under construction at Warr Acres can help redirect and comfort those with confusion due to memory loss.
“People act the way they do to get perceived needs met. Well it’s the same thing when you have memory impairment. It’s just a diseased issue and you’re acting to get your perceived needs met.”
The fact that somebody is confused without memory can be redirected to a new train of thought. The memory care unit will offer an area with wandering paths. It is a redesign of an existing space being retrofitted with specifications geared toward memory loss. The area was a memory unit several years ago, he said.
“We’re redeveloping it,” he said. Only 18 patients at a time will live in the unit.
“That is unheard of, because that’s a very small group.”
Most places offer space for larger populations of people living with memory loss, Reynolds continued. These larger units make it more difficult to monitor the people living there, he said.
Warr Acres Nursing Center has already started to take referrals to its upcoming memory care environment.
“It’s a very aggressive remodel,” he said. “We are putting in work stations for residents to sit and do artistry. There will be different work stations for men to sit and fiddle more than the things that we had 10 years ago. So we’re newer and state-of-the-art.”
The garden area will have a raised plant bed to promote activities outside. Each one of the rooms has been stripped and will have completely new interiors. Additionally, the common areas will change.
“Of course me as a nurse am thinking this is going to take forever. But the crew doing it have expedited it faster than I’ve ever thought,” Reynolds said. “But I know I’m very excited for us because this area I feel very fond of.”
Reynolds remembers his grandmother lived with dementia when he was 9 years old. So much has been learned since the through biomedical research.
“Memory care units are a very needful thing,” Reynolds said.
Changes in health care with skilled units being built have caused many places to end their memory care, he said.
“Memory care units require staff with knowledge about how to deal with memory behaviors,” he said.
Warr Acres Nursing Center has invited Tepa Snow, an individual who developed care giving guidelines, to speak to the nursing staff in May. The guidelines are from a therapist’s perspective. She is coming under the leadership of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Leading Age program, Reynolds said.
Reynolds, himself, once did the training for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“These are the annual symposiums the Alzheimer’s Association puts on,” Reynolds explained.
The new memory care unit is there for people to realize it is a whole new environment, Reynolds said. It will offer residents further ability to age in place without having to move away.
“How long you can stay at this stage depends a lot of times on how well you are being fostered,” he said.