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Encore Adult Daily provides a new take on dementia treatment by offering friends, fun and routine
Laura Lester learned firsthand the tricks of the trade while caring for a family member with dementia.
Because of her lively, upbeat attitude, she was approached with an offer she couldn't refuse and opened the Encore Adult Daily Enrichment Center with the idea of providing dedicated memory care with a community atmosphere. The center is located in far west Plano but welcomes guests from surrounding areas.
The center, which provides a structured program to engage and mentally stimulate its guests, helps them stay healthy and independent as long as possible.
"My business partner has been in the senior living business for 20 years and came to us as investors since we had [a family member with dementia]," she said. "He originally approached my husband and said there was a real need for this kind of thing before they get to the stage they need to be moved [into an assisted living center]. We thought it was a great idea and if it would have been available to us when we needed it, we would have really loved it."
The Encore Adult Daily Enrichment Center holds special Alzheimer's state licensing. The staff is trained to assist those with dementia and focuses on providing a safe place where guests can interact with others and participate in a wide variety of memory care practices.
"I have been a nurse for a long time, and this is one of the coolest places I've ever worked," said Risi Olayioye, healthcare coordinator. "It's family oriented and our job is to stimulate, help with their memory and maybe redirect some anxieties going on. It's fun because they are like our family - we see them everyday they come here. We laugh, we joke, we dance, we sing. It's non-medicinal based and we make it fun for them."
Olayioye said employees keep a schedule and go by a calendar every day, but her days are never the same.
Rhonda Medina, marketing director for the center, said during the early stages of dementia the family faces changes in their loved ones demeanor and is looking for ways to cope with and battle dementia.
"The beginning stages aren't recognizable because they haven't been tested yet or may be misdiagnosed - maybe they had hearing or vision troubles," Medina said. "This is where the day stay opportunity for memory care is so important. We are all still learning every year what the signs are of this disease. It's different with every person - there will be many similarities, but as we are all unique and so is the disease and the experience."
During their time at Encore, guests participate in programs that encourage social interaction along with participation in activities and brain-healthy games and exercise. In order to accommodate these needs, the activity director receives ongoing training in programs that benefit individuals living with memory impairment.
Medina said the center's main focus is on guests with dementia or dementia-related illnesses or diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. However, dementia can occur in younger patients through early onset Alzheimer's, which mainly strikes people in their late 40s to early 50s.
"These are very productive people, very highly intelligent people - we're talking doctors, CEOs of corporations - the last people you would expect," Medina said. "These are highly-functional people and when the disease comes on to a point where it is recognizable to themselves or their family, they still have the same energy; they still have the same passion to have purpose in their lives. Most of the people we have here are very high functioning and they need to be stimulated and need to have their intelligence to be respected."
With that understanding, the center provides ongoing activities throughout the day in the hopes of keeping guests functioning at their level of cognizance, keep them stimulated and help them remember they have a purpose, Medina said.
"You cannot get that kind of individual attention anywhere else," she said. "That's all we do all day long and we do it to keep them safe so they don't wonder off - because six to10 dementia patients wonder, so a secured location is vitally important."
The center's open floor plan allows guests to participate in activities, watch TV or movies, read books, dance a jig, relax on the patio, or spend some quiet time in the meditation/relaxation room. The floor plan allows patients to follow the handrails - if needed - around the core of the center, promoting independence. The handrails also offer a unique pathway to easily return to the main room should guests get lost.
The hours of care are tailored to help every family, as it offers half days or full days. Half days are 5 hours and full days are anything over. The center is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Half days are $60 a day, full days are $80 and Saturdays are $70. Its monthly rate is offered at a discount of $1,440 for Monday to Friday care.
Medina said to achieve the same amount of memory care in an assisted living situation the associated cost is much higher.
"When you step into assisted living that's memory care you are also stepping into a much higher level looking at $4,000 to $5,000 a month," she said. "The most they would pay a month is $1,440 and still get to be at home with the family."
While helping with dementia patients is their primary focus, Lester and Medina understand the core values at stake.
"We are part of the process in helping keep these family units together," Medina said. "There are family members who want to keep their mother or their father or their spouse at home for as long as they possibly can. With dementia, they need a safe place to be they need structure because in a world where nothing makes sense, they need a place with structure, friends, routine and familiar faces - these are the things that make sense to them."