This innovative care model, developed by Beatitudes Campus, a continuing care retirement community in Arizona, creates a person-centered culture for dementia care that moves beyond physical treatments to incorporate members’ psychosocial and spiritual needs.
Judson board member, the Very Reverend Tracey Lind, is a champion of the program. The recently retired dean of Cleveland’s Trinity Episcopal Church watched her mother, Winne Lind, a Judson Park resident, cope with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease. And Rev. Lind herself was recently diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration, an early onset form of dementia that affects her language skills and the ability to plan, execute and manage.
If there is one thing Rev. Lind knows about memory care, it is that the person must come first.
“Understanding the totality of who that person is, has been and still wants to be, is the first step in providing a quality of life for someone with dementia,” she says. “Everyone is an individual and getting to know them, what they like and what makes them comfortable is the work that goes on in the Comfort Matters approach.”
Cathy Bryan, Judson’s coordinator of creative arts and art therapy, has seen the success of that approach first hand, most recently in her work with resident Al Cahen. An artist and poet, Al moved to a memory care neighborhood at Judson Park in November 2016.
“When I first met Al, he hadn’t painted in about three years,” says Cathy. “Knowing he had dementia, he was very depressed and had stopped creating.” Determined to help Al reconnect to his identity, Cathy immediately began encouraging him to take up his brush.
“We connected right away,” she says. “He was just so expressive about composition and color and line. Even when he couldn’t articulate, I understood him. We each speak two languages, I told him—English and art—and the language of art needs no words. As a poet, that notion really resonated with Al.”
Thanks to Cathy’s one-on-one support, Al began painting again. Recently, an exhibition of his work opened at Streeter Gallery in Judson Park.
“Now he’s done hundreds of paintings with me,” says Cathy, adding that Al is also creating poetry again. “He has all this new energy from connecting to that inner artist.”
Rev. Lind says that’s what Comfort Matters is all about.
“Through the Winne Lind Fund and Comfort Matters, my brother Tom, his wife Kathi and I wanted to make it possible for Judson to become the community of choice for people with thinking issues,” she says. “We drew a circle that took them in and made it wide and big enough for everyone. I think the work Judson is doing is great.”