For Residents With Memory Loss, Bridge to Rediscovery Strengthens Connections, Celebrates Life
Bridge to Rediscovery (BTR) is an innovative program offered exclusively at Five Star Senior Living communities since 2007. Recipient of an Assisted Living Federation of America Best of the Best Award, BTR is designed to provide a safe and nurturing environment where seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can flourish and share a positive life experience.
While dementia is a progressive – and irreversible – decline in cognitive functions due to trauma or disease, our program is effective in helping residents maintain their identity, their dignity, and their skills, passions, and interests. We never define our residents with memory loss by their disability but by their abilities. To us, a person with dementia is a normal individual who just happens to have cognitive deficits. And we make sure that the staff and family members have the same perspective and approach.
Individualized Attention for Each Resident
Based on the same Montessori methodology used in school systems, the BTR program is personalized for each resident, leveraging their strengths in building a foundation of learning and success. When a person diagnosed with dementia begins living in a Five Star community with memory care services, we undertake a comprehensive life review with that individual, asking very detailed questions about what they like, how they do things, and then we develop a customized plan of action to help them function at their highest possible level.
Families are intimately involved in the process. We ask family members to bring in a box of materials that reflect and represent who their loved one is, what they were like and what made them special before they became cognitively impaired. Through recreational and occupational therapy, we can restore some of their functionality; by building on their strengths, we can keep them engaged. For example, if someone loved art, music, or dancing; was a lawyer, doctor, or engineer; or enjoyed sports, gardening, or cooking, we would provide them with relevant books and activities that would interest them.
Safety and Happiness are Our Top Priorities
People with dementia tend to wander, which puts their safety at risk. At Five Star communities where dementia care is offered, our BTR neighborhoods are secured so that residents can leave only under supervision or in an emergency. We do offer walking groups and access to exercise classes because strength-building and movement are important for their health.
BTR is a program of living, rather than a standard set of activities. Everything the resident does every day is a program specifically designed for their abilities, likes, and favorite topics, whether it’s personal care, eating, dressing, or watching TV. Many people with dementia lose the ability to feed themselves if they don’t continue to work on the skills it requires. Often, residents who come to a BTR neighborhood unable to feed themselves regain the ability with our specialized dining program and care.
8 Key Principles of Montessori-Based Dementia Programming
Montessori-Based Dementia Programming (MBDP) was developed by Dr. Cameron Camp; Five Star has four credentialed trainers in MBDP, and our train-the-trainer program ensures that staff at all our communities offering memory care services are adept in the methodology. The eight key principles of MBDP are:
- Observe the residents to understand their interests, capabilities, strengths and needs
- Keep verbal instruction to a minimum simple, clear and pleasant
- There are many “right” ways of doing a program
- Cue participants, encourage to do the program for themselves, help as indicted
- Provide immediate and frequent verbal encouragement
- Build on skills and capabilities
- Simple to complex and concrete to abstract
- Work from left to right and top to bottom
- Use repetition to promote success and positive engagement
- Use programs that build and help retain skills and capabilities