We talk with Autumn Glen's Avita Program Director, Edite Lawrence, about her passion for all things memory care and how to find success in an Avita memory care community.
Before we get into the interview questions, we asked Edite to share a little bit about her background and what sparked her interest in working in Memory Care. Here is what she had to share, "the brain and how it functions has been a passion of mine pretty much all of my adult life. In 2011 a member of my family was diagnosed with dementia, which we later learned was Alzheimer’s Disease. I kept noticing that the way people were acting and responding to this individual would cause them frustration and tears. At the time I had no knowledge of the best way to respond and help this person. Watching the situation with my family member unfold led me to research dementia and memory care. I instantly fell in love with what I was learning and knew immediately I wanted to be part of this field in whatever way I could. I had no idea how to start since up until then I had only worked with children. I thought, why not go for it and cover all of the different stages of life? I started by volunteering with the Activities Department at a Nursing Home near where I lived. It wasn't long before I fell in love with activities and started the process of becoming a certified Activities Director. I kept reading and learning as much as I could about dementia, but it was not until I came to work at Autumn Glen that I found I could narrow my education towards dementia and memory care exclusively."
Learn more about Edite and why she loves helping residents in her Avita neighborhood find home in our interview:
1. How long have you worked at Autumn Glen and how long have you been the Avita Program Director?
Edite: I have worked at Autumn Glen since November 2016 and I have been the Avita Program Director since September 2019.
2. What is your favorite part about working in Memory Care?
Edite: My favorite part of working in Memory Care is being able to help our residents live their best lives. I love teaching and educating our associates during in-services, and on a daily basis, on how to better help our residents. I absolutely love to see our residents accomplish things when they've previously said, ”oh I could never do that!“ For example: painting and crafts. Seeing them enjoy and actually surprise themselves with what they can do, it gives me an amazing feeling of pride in our residents! We do not focus on what they cannot do, we focus on everything that they can do and everything they can still learn! I love to talk with our residents and hear their stories, we can learn so much from them!
3. What are some of the most popular memory care programs at Avita?
Edite: The most popular memory care programs are: exercise (twice most days), Memory Making Baking, art class, book club and book nook and entertainment. We also just started using The Great Courses on TV and our residents are loving it, they choose the different topics that they want to learn about. It's been a great tool in keeping the brain stimulated.
4. What would you say is the biggest benefit to being part of the Avita neighborhood at Autumn Glen?
Edite: The biggest benefit to being part of the Avita neighborhood from an associate point of view is knowing that I make a difference in the lives of our residents. During the trying times with COVID-19 I count it a privilege more then ever because our residents do not see their loved ones as much as they used to. In Avita, and the entire community, associates are the happy familiar faces that are here to encourage residents and show love. Seeing the residents living in a way that they feel pride in what they do is very important to me. Our residents dignity is one of the things my team and I work hard to keep intact as long as they are with us at the different stages of memory impairment. From the prospective of our residents anyone moving into our Avita neighborhood at Autumn Glen gains a group of people that soon become friends and even family. From our associates to the other residents that live in Avita, everyone cares for each other. Residents are excited to be part of new things and encourage one another. We keep our residents busy and do many things every single day. Having a routine is very important for people with dementia, we have our programming structured so there is routine and excitement every day!