According to a 2018 report from the Alzheimer’s Association, there will be 120,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina by 2025. And every one of them will have family members or other loved ones faced with a difficult decision: Whether to care for that person themselves or turn to an assisted living facility for help.
Watching the effects that Alzheimer’s or dementia can have on a loved one can be devastating, says Nick Jasmon of American Healthcare Management Group.
“It’s kind of weird that for 80% of your life you have these one or two people that always seem to have the answer to everything,” Jasmon says. “If something’s going on, you think, ‘Well, I can just call Mom and Dad and they’ll at least listen to me. Then all of a sudden, they change slightly and are not exactly as you remember them. In the beginning, you have to start helping them do some of the most basic things such as reminding them to take their medicine or to eat. As the disease progresses, it completely changes the way you look at them. Suddenly, they are no longer that person that has all the answers.”
Jasmon speaks from experience. American Healthcare Management Group manages Hilltop Of Greenville Memory Care, a memory care community on Pelham Rd. He says the key to helping both the residents of places like Hilltop of Greenville and their family members, is building a sense of positivity.
“The industry kind of puts us in this bucket as a ‘facility.’ We are a community, not just a building where people go to get care,” Jasmon says. “We want them to actually improve on their life and continue to live prosperously for the duration of their life. It’s not just about the residents. ‘What are we doing in the building that’s providing that opportunity for the residents to kind of keep striving? What kind of staff members are we hiring? What kind of partnerships are we creating? What kind of activities are we doing?’ All of those things go into that approach.”
Jasmon says that if the assisted living community is providing excellent care and providing a feeling of community among its residents, it helps family members and loved ones ease their minds.
“These communities are created for seniors to live in and for them to prosper for the rest of their life and allow their family members to go back to being family members, not caregivers,” he says. “It’s something that sometimes, our family members haven’t been able to do for so long because they’ve just been so concerned about providing the care and making sure that they are healthy and are getting all the things they need.”
“It’s the same as in any relationship,” he adds. “If you have to pick up a lot of support on one side, sometimes you forget to do the other half of it and take care of yourself.”