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Connecting Realities at Western Reserve Masonic Community

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 5.8 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It is projected that by the year 2050 this number will grow to 14 million. Recognizing this trend, and understanding that Alzheimer’s disease impacts all people, The Ohio Masonic Home is committed to being an industry leader in Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia care. Our three campuses have dedicated memory care programming and facilities so that we may best serve our fraternity and surrounding communities.

In 2019, we developed our five year Strategic Dementia Programming Plan. This initiative builds on the Connecting Realities principles that were launched in 2013 in coordination with the building of dedicated memory care units at our Western Reserve and Browning Masonic Communities. Cara Schuster, Chief Clinical Officer shared this, "Connecting Realities" is being used to successfully engage residents with dementia. A relatively new approach, there is evidence that when the principles are effectively introduced into the living environment that anxiety levels decrease for the residents. By providing them with rewarding activities we see a spark that connects them to memories of their past enjoyments."

One component of the strategic plan focuses on staff development through education and technology. One of the technologies is on Sensory Programming that is individualized for each resident. Karra Weil, Director of Nursing at Western Reserve Masonic Community, stated in regards to the staff training, “We started with having all of our team members become Certified Dementia Professionals, which is a certification that is overseen by the Alzheimer’s Association. We then educated the staff on the new elements of our Connecting Realities Program. The basis of the programming is an assessment which helps define how to best interact and engage with each individual person. Based on those findings we are able to use sensory items that are spread throughout the common spaces to engage each individual. In addition to the positive interactions, we have seen a favorable increase in mood/behavior and a decrease in the number of physical falls that take place”.

When asked about feedback received from families and loved ones about the changes Karra shared, “We have seen an increase in the frequency and longevity of family visits. The programming gives friends and family member tools to engage with their loved one. One daughter said, ‘Thank you for giving me my dad back, even for these few precious moments.’ This is the type of connection we are striving to achieve.”

Thanks to the efforts of many, the Connecting Realities programming has launched at the Western Reserve Masonic Community with plans to roll out to the Browning and Springfield Masonic Communities. Proceeds from The Ohio Masonic Home Foundations annual Golf Classic make educational programming and the use of technology possible. Thank you for your support of the Foundation!

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