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Shenandoah Senior Living Community takes steps to battle Alzheimer's disease
Republican & Herald - 10/12/2017
Oct. 12--SHENANDOAH -- Residents with Alzheimer's disease at Shenandoah Senior Living Community have several opportunities to engage in the community this fall, according to the staff.
They'll be taking a fall foliage tour Oct. 24 and will join in Halloween events Oct. 28 and Oct. 31.
Remaining active in the community is just one of the benefits of care provided at SSLC, officials said.
There's a growing need to find services for people facing an Alzheimer's diagnosis, according to Renee Del Valle-Buchanan, admissions and marketing director at SSLC.
SSLC offers independent living, personal care and skilled nursing care at its 124-bed facility at 101 E. Washington St. Trent Flick serves as nursing home administrator.
The majority of the residents at the continuing care retirement community have an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis, according to Laura Pulaski, director of rehabilitation.
Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease, according to www.alz.org. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia and it kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, the website states. While deaths from heart disease have decreased by 14 percent since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer's disease have increased by 89 percent, according to the website.
Committed to making strides in Alzheimer's research, Del Valle-Buchanan; Desiree Dunleavy, LPN; and Janelle Cuff, admissions coordinator; are part of the Alzheimer's team at SSLC.
This year, SSLC was the top fundraising team, bringing in more than $10,025 for the Alzheimer's Association of Schuylkill County.
SSLC held a golf tournament Aug. 11, which was co-sponsored by Mountain Valley Golf Course and CACL Federal Credit Union; held a benefit luncheon; and participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in September. Del Valle-Buchanan said she hopes to make the golf tournament an annual event.
"Alzheimer's is something that everyone can relate to," Del Valle-Buchanan said, adding that most people either have a loved one, friend or neighbor diagnosed with the disease.
"We want to do something for the future and hope to one day find a cure," Dunleavy, who's worked at SSLC for 17 years and has three family members residing there, said.
Several special programs are available for residents with Alzheimer's at SSLC. Some activities, like bingo games, are offered in the dining room, while others are provided in the center therapy room and activities room.
"Real Life Styles" is a therapy offered that is geared toward each person's interests and improving their quality of life, Pulaski said.
As an example, Pulaski said, if a resident enjoyed doing puzzles, the therapy would adapt their skills to their interests, enabling them to complete puzzles as part of their therapy. Other therapies for short-term residents help them use a stove or microwave, reach into cabinets or review their pet care skills.
"It's very individualized," Pulaski said. Sometimes, people with Alzheimer's are not as mobile, and that lack of mobility can cause them pain, she said.
"We work with them with their mobility and with their medicines," Pulaski said.
Each resident has an individual treatment plan. Physical, occupational and speech therapy are offered.
In the activities room, Sue Smith, activities director, and Debby McGinn, activities aide, reviewed some of the activities provided for the residents with Alzheimer's.
Smith said the "Kitchen Creations" activity enables residents to help make homemade vegetable soup, for instance.
"They really enjoy having a taste of what it was like (years ago)," Smith said.
A sensory group activity may include listening to music by Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin.
McGinn said the daytime group enjoys doing crafts.
"The nighttime group, though, they like the gambling games like Black Jack, slots and bingo," she said.
Smith said that on Oct. 24, they will take a fall foliage bus tour, traveling to Hazleton and Hometown. Other outdoor festivities have included trips to an amusement park, area restaurants and cookouts in the summer.
Del Valle-Buchanan said the activities schedule, located in two hallways at the facility, are visual reminders to help residents know what's coming up and offer visual cues about the date, weather and holidays.
On Oct. 28, the Halloween parade through the borough will conclude at the SSLC parking lot.
On Oct. 31, SSLC will participate for the first time in the Healthy Shenandoah Trunk or Treat from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be 40 spaces in the SSLC front parking lot where children can safely receive treats from the trunks of decorated vehicles. Other locations for safe trick-or-treating are the BB&T parking lot, Shenandoah Community Watch, Rite Aid parking lot and the Shenandoah Valley Elementary School. SSLC residents will prepare Halloween goody bags for children and will be distributing candy in the dining room and front lounge area on Oct. 31.
"When they see the kids, their faces just light up," Dunleavy said.
For more information, visit www.alz.org or call SSLC at 570-462-1908.
Contact the writer: ; 570-628-6007
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