How a small Alzheimer’s and dementia facility feels like home
AvaLynda Casey is owner of AvonLea Cottage of Dixon, a small privately owned memory care home for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia in Dixon, Illinois.
She and her husband both got started in real estate and business. They found themselves jumping into healthcare administration with both feet two years ago when they found the 16-bedroom residential home in Dixon for sale. AvaLynda dealt personally with Alzheimer’s Disease in her family, so this was a venture that resonated with her.
“This is where my heart is,” she says.
Promoting a safe, comforting environment for memory care residents
The Caseys were fortunate to be able to purchase the business that was already operational, and the staff stayed on with them. The building itself has a ranch-style homey feel to it, and staff members are able to get to know the residents well.
AvaLynda says, “The living room and dining room and kitchen are all open to each other. And so it smells like the coffee when it’s percolating, and you can tell what’s for supper. And it just smells, feels and sounds like home there.”
For memory care patients, this intimate setting is ideal for helping them transition to a skilled nursing care environment.
Memory care facilities differ from other types of senior care facilities because they offer 24-hour care, specialized staff, memory-enhancing therapies and a secure environment. These services relieve a tremendous burden from family members who find they are unable to provide 24-hour care for their loved one.
Staff at AvonLea have focused on making the facility feel like a home away from home with the decor, natural lighting and furniture residents bring from home for their rooms. AvaLynda’s background in residential real estate means she’s focused on the aesthetics of making the facility feel like home.
Key services for memory care residents
Keeping residents safe, comfortable and engaged is a priority for any memory care facility. They offer a secure environment with locked exterior doors, so that no one may leave or enter unnoticed. They often feature sensors at entrances and exits to help staff monitor who enters and leaves the building. For spending time safely outdoors, many facilities feature enclosed gardens or courtyards.
At AvonLea Cottage, they keep residents engaged with comforting objects to hold, such as life-size dolls made for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. They also offer activities like crocheting, quilting and games. Residents enjoy looking through memory boxes that can trigger some of the memories that come and go.
AvaLynda sees a great need for small memory care facilities everywhere. The size is ideal for the residents themselves, and families feel comforted knowing their loved ones are getting the care they need.
Growing need for memory care units
An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. One in 10 people aged 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia.
With the rapid increase in the aging population of baby boomers, the size of the population with cognitive impairment and dementia will continue to grow.
For those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, this places a tremendous burden on their loved ones.
“Family members are exhausted trying to give care 24/7. We’re not made to do that,” says AvaLynda.
Small memory care facilities are ideal for helping residents transition to a new environment and helping their loved ones get the support they need.