Peru Liberty Village celebrates new programs for memory care

Ribbon cutting ceremony announces Memory Lane - Fitness of the mind

Wayne Zebron’s wife, Carol, of La Salle, became a resident at Liberty Village in Peru after she was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease inhibiting her ability to communicate.

Carol has primary progressive aphasia, and her condition has evolved from being able to communicate through an iPad to saying a few phrases, and now she’s not able to have a conversation at all.

Zebron served as her caretaker for some time until taking care of basic hygiene tasks, like getting her to shower, became too much for him. That’s when his wife became a resident at Liberty Village in 2020, where no visitors were allowed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In 2021, he and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Liberty Village staff laid out flowers, set up a table and played music as the two renewed their vows.

Watching his wife with the disease hasn’t been easy, and Zebron said he can’t thank the Liberty Village staff enough for what they’ve done for his wife, even the simple things like having fresh clothes and a shower.

“You don’t realize how much you appreciate those things until they’re gone.”

Zebron was one of the speakers at Liberty Village’s ribbon cutting ceremony announcing a new program called Memory Lane — Fitness for the Mind on Thursday.

Residents and staff spoke about the goals of the new program to exercise the brain, enhance memory and maintain independence.

One new aspect is the use of the Allen Cognitive Screening Assessment, a test measuring an individual’s cognitive deficit. Based on the results, an individual will be assigned a color that corresponds with recommended games and activities. This color coding process also corresponds to a chart instructing specially trained staff on the best way to communicate, whether that’s visual, verbal, modeling and more.

Color has also been implemented to improve safety in bathrooms and increase food and drink intake of the residents. Painting one wall of the bathrooms a different color allows for a focal point to prevent falling, and a black toilet seat lid helps dementia patients find the seat.

Red dishes also are being used during meal times, helping increase the amount of food and water residents consume to prevent weight loss. Marketing Director Michelle Sommer said the use of color is important because those with dementia process color differently than others. For example, if a piece of chicken is on a white plate, someone with dementia may not eat because they can’t see it.

“It’s a simple change that means so much,” Sommer said.

The goal of the new program is to create a personal plan for all residents to keep them mentally active while encouraging interaction and socialization. Promoting personal independence, like maintaining personal hygiene, is another goal of the program.

“We are always striving to be better and we want to take care of our seniors in the community the best we can, so anything we can do to enhance what we’re already doing is what we want,” Sommer said. “We are excited about this because it’s a new way to provide for our seniors that are suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.”