OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Aksarben Village Senior Living opened its doors to seniors six years ago, and the facility has it all.
From its own salon to a fitness center, all the way to a movie theater and ice cream machine.
However, it is memory loss care that makes it so special.
“Meaningful engagement in everyday activities is what sets us apart here at Aksarben Village,” Loretta Wolf, lifestyles director of Aksarben Villiage Senior Living, said.
“It’s even more than special, it’s awesome,” Madelin Churchich, a memory care resident, said .
The center has three levels of care for seniors that are all integrated together: independent living, assisted living and the memory care program in The Meadowlark wing.
The Meadowlark houses 27 residents, who have access to some of the best care nationwide. The staff is trained through the nationally-based and continually-researched Hearthstone Institute's ‘I'm Still Here’ program.
“They are specially trained to work with the residents to strengthen their confidence, to find their sense of purpose in each day,” Wolf said.
“We did have a memory care at my last job, and they didn’t have Hearthstone, so it was kind of whatever activities they planned,” Meadowlark Director Ashley Kreifels said. “Where this is already structured, it’s already implemented, and if it’s not working, we change it.”
It's something that very few senior living centers in the country can say they’re certified in, let alone for six years straight.
“Once an activity shows a therapeutic impact on people with dementia, it’s implemented in the select few communities who have earned the honor of being an ‘I’m Still Here’ level of excellence,” Wolf said. “We are one of only 33 such centers of that and we are very proud of that.”
They start each day with a meeting that all the memory care residents are a part of. This provides structure to the day for the residents, which they say is very important.
“What is today? What’s the weather today? What’s the joke of the day?” Wolf said. “So, the residents participate in every aspect of the day, and choices throughout the day are very important.”
They also have all sorts of activities for the residents to participate in. That can involve playing games, going on an adventure, singing in the choir or learning a new skill.
“There’s always something, you’re never bored,” Churchich said.
That includes individualized activities as well, with activities that are catered to the resident's past or personal interests.
“If they were a nurse, we can give them a first aid kit to organize,” Kreifels said. “Vicky for example is very big on exercising, so she helps lead one of our exercise groups.”
It’s safe to say the residents are pleased with their stay at the center.
“When my daughter told me where she was going to put me, you know, this retirement place, I said, ‘Me? Are you sure Cara?' ” Churchich said. “She said trust me mom, and I said I do. She was so right.”
Churchich has been at Aksarben Village for three years now and says it’s the people that make it what it is.
“We’re all friends. We just — it's like we’re family.”
The Meadowlark staff says some important practices when speaking with someone that suffers from dementia are to speak at eye level, give them time to process and then echo statements back to them, and ask ‘would you rather’ questions instead of questions about their past.
For more information on Aksarben Village Senior Living and its memory care program, click here.