Brain health is everybody’s business



Young woman with arm around older womanJune is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Nearly 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s worsens over time and has no cure. It kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Caring for those with dementia

Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) hosts more than 1,000 residents in its assisted living memory care and care center memory care. Alzheimer’s and dementia impact these individuals, their families and the employees who care for them in very tangible ways.

To strengthen its service to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, PHS created an innovative, person-centered approach to its memory care practices. Called DOVE – Dementia Orientation Values Education – this program seeks to help PHS employees:

  • Affirm those living with dementia as whole individuals
  • Celebrate their strengths
  • Uphold their dignity, self-esteem and independence
  • Grow in compassion, flexibility and creativity when providing cares

Jennie Fick, PHS memory care services director, strives to ensure PHS employees feel equipped and empowered to provide superior care to memory care residents.

“DOVE is the culmination of many years of thoughtful consultation with staff, families and leaders in the field of dementia research,” says Jennie. “We continue to improve and enhance this program in order to bring the best care possible to our residents.”

Jennie adds, “We personalize each resident’s care plan to his or her unique abilities, preferences and stage of memory loss. This enables us to deliver person-centered care that promotes the social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical wellness of our residents.”

Jennie believes these principles are embodied by PHS employees as they practice active listening, let those living with dementia express their feelings, and show understanding and compassion to these residents. Resident services directors, chaplains, pastors and nurses form a network of ongoing support, helping residents with cognitive decline connect to opportunities both inside PHS and in the greater community.

Caring for caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for a family member or friend with dementia. This task can be very challenging. PHS supports caregivers by offering them caregiving tools and resources.

Tips for maintaining good brain health

The Alzheimer’s Association reports there is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Here are five tips from their “10 ways to love your brain” fact sheet:

  1. Stay socially engaging by connecting with friends and family.
  2. If depressed, anxious or stressed, seek treatment.
  3. Take a class through a college, community center or online to stimulate your thinking.
  4. Protect your head by wearing a seatbelt or by wearing a helmet when riding a bike or participating in contact sports.
  5. Participate in regular cardiovascular exercise; it’s not only good for your heart, it’s good for your brain.

Especially this month, take steps to encourage and support those caring for individuals living with dementia. In addition, take steps to promote your own brain health.

To find a PHS community offering memory care, visit our website.

Want to know more about employment with PHS? Visit: preshomes.org/careers.



Get news, stories and updates weekly on PHS communities, residents and employees, plus resourceful information on living well!

More stories