In an exciting development in 2015, New Community Corporation is announcing that the Extended Care Facility in Newark will soon offer a new program wholly specialized in the care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The full-time program, which is expected to start in the coming weeks, will be staffed by a registered nurse, certified nursing assistants and activities staff from the nursing home—all who have undergone extensive training to prepare for the specific challenges and needs of residents facing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with one’s daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia characterized as a progressive and fatal brain disease that causes memory loss and behavioral problems that affect work, lifelong hobbies and social life, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s can include difficulty remembering recent conversations, apathy and depression, while later symptoms are marked by poor judgment, mood swings, confusion, and difficulty walking, speaking or swallowing.
Extended Care residents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia will be able to participate in the day-long program, which will be housed on the first floor of the nursing home at 266 South Orange Ave. in Newark.
The new program will focus on personalized, highly interactive activities catered to the functional level of each resident, according to Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka, a certified Alzheimer’s and dementia professional.
“They will get more activity, more one-to-one interaction with staff,” Onwunaka said. “There’s never a dull moment with them,” she added. Each day will be filled with stimulating activities involving music and crafts or games like ring toss as well as therapeutic activities including massages. Lunch and dinner will be served to residents and staff will oversee the administration of medications. The new program will also dovetail with the ongoing support group for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which meets on the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Extended Care (for more information, call the front desk at 973-624-2020).
“This new program builds on the Alzheimer’s and dementia training and specialization that’s been underway at New Community’s Extended Care Facility for the last several years,” said Richard Rohrman, CEO of New Community. “Our nursing home is entering an exciting new chapter with the opening of our new program that’s dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents facing Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are committed to constantly finding new ways to better serve seniors in our community.”
Health professionals as well as the staff of NCC Health and Social Services all completed dementia training last year.
Madge Wilson’s 86-year-old aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in September of 2012. Earlier that year, Wilson, an NCC Board Member and Outreach Coordinator, relocated her aunt, Eunice Harris, from her apartment in Atlantic City, where she lived alone, to Extended Care after the building manager alerted Wilson to changes in Harris’ behavior.
“She became so confused,” Wilson said. “I knew something was wrong.”
Because dementia is a degenerative condition, individuals suffering from it need the support of a long-term care center, Administrator Robert Smolin said.
Wilson greatly anticipates the start of the new Alzheimer’s program at Extended Care and believes her aunt will be among many to benefit.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said. “We can concentrate more on residents like that.”