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Circle of Friends®

Maybe you’ve noticed a few changes in yourself or a loved one. Simple tasks seem to take longer. More and more, things are forgotten or misplaced. The fact is, our brains change as we age and some forgetfulness is to be expected. But if you’re having ongoing or increasing concerns about mental performance, it’s important to know that there are things you can do to maintain, and in some cases improve, cognitive function, memory and thinking skills.

Several years ago, Belmont Village Senior Living pioneered a comprehensive therapeutic program to specifically address the needs and abilities of our residents with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and early stage memory loss. What makes our program unique is the combination of a wellness model with mental fitness to create a Whole Brain Fitness lifestyle. Our innovative approach is based on leading research and an ongoing evaluation program, developed in consultation with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Quality Aging. And it’s changing how providers and families look at assisted living and memory care.

CIRCLE OF FRIENDS IS BEST FOR:

  • Seniors with mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate memory loss
  • Individuals who need more support, but do not need a secured setting

WHOLE BRAIN FITNESS

Successful aging means nurturing mind, body and spirit each day. Discover the seven essential elements of a Whole Brain Fitness lifestyle at Belmont Village.

NON-SECURED MEMORY CARE WITHIN ASSISTED LIVING

Living with memory loss doesn’t have to happen behind closed doors. Our Circle of Friends program is specifically designed for residents who have experienced cognitive changes and need more support but don’t need a secured memory care environment. Circle of Friends residents live in assisted living residences but participate in a structured day of activities designed to help maintain cognitive function. Activities are therapeutic, with attainable goals and conducted in a small group setting to encourage residents stay involved, maintain function, build confidence and have happy, fulfilling days.

FOCUSED ON OUR RESIDENTS

  • Therapeutic goal is to build cognitive reserve to improve efficiency and flexibility for processing information
  • Dedicated, specially trained team to develop and lead daily activities
  • Small group-based, comfortably structured to include residents with similar abilities
  • 7 day-a-week program, from breakfast to dinner
  • Personalized activities adapted to create the “just right challenge” for residents with mild cognitive impairment and mild to moderate memory loss
  • Daily mental workouts engage 6 domains of mental fitness: critical thinking, memory-body movement, learning, sequencing, long-term memory and problem solving
  • Programs and training designed in-house for quick response to changes in research and resident preferences/needs

BASED ON WHAT WORKS

  • Dynamic program developed and refined over nearly a decade of use
  • Quality maintained for individuals and groups through an in-depth evaluation model
  • Changes made based on bi-annual assessment results (evidence-based)
  • Participation encouraged and tracked – regular engagement slows cognitive decline
  • Residents in our structured programs participate more
  • Awarded George Mason University 2011 Health Care Quality Improvement Award and Argentum 2016 Best of the Best in Memory Care

A PROVEN METHOD

Research links dementia-associated apathy to accelerated decline in all physical and mental areas. When cognitive changes start, withdrawal and isolation are common. The guided Circle of Friends program encourages residents to consistently socialize and participate in therapeutic activities to reduce apathy and build cognitive reserve.

To evaluate program effectiveness, we recently compared two cognitively similar groups of our assisted living residents. One group was enrolled in Circle of Friends. The second group was not, but chose from a similar menu of activities to attend on their own. The participation standard for both groups was four hours a day.

RESULTS

What we learned was that approximately 75%  of the residents in our Circle of Friends group spent a minimum of four hours per day engaged in purposeful activities, with less than one-fourth exhibiting apathy. However, less than a third of the group of self-directed participants met the study’s minimum participation standard and nearly two-thirds exhibited apathy. For residents who are beginning to experience cognitive decline, the benefits of a guided program can be significant in helping to maintain engagement and function.

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