Pella Chronicle

March 12, 2014

Older adults who need memory support thrive at The Cottages

The Pella Chronicle

---- — Individual Lifestyle Plans Reflect Residents’ Interests, Strengthen Mind, Body and Spirit

Several residents of the Zeeland Assisted Living Memory Support community at The Cottages are night owls. They gather in the community area most evenings to sip hot cocoa and assemble puzzles. By the smiles on their faces, you can see they are enjoying each other’s company as they share stories about their experiences on Iowa farms.

“Many of our residents found their previous homes to be somewhat isolating,” says Jennifer West, Hearthstone Assisted Living Director. “During the day, they would sit alone with nothing to do and get anxious. And at night, they would feel lost and lonely. Here, they are really thriving and have come alive again.”

The Zeeland community at The Cottages is a housing alternative for older adults who may need help with medications, dressing and bathing, but do not require intensive medical and nursing services. This community was specifically designed to support independence, health and well-being of people who are in the early stages of memory loss.

It is here that Helen Vander Waal and other residents have found a welcoming new home, thanks to Hearthstone, a Ministry of WesleyLife.

“At first, it was different and I was a little homesick,” says Vander Waal. “But now, I just love all the things we get to do, all the activities, all the places we go. I love being involved.”

It is connection and involvement that are the keys to health and happiness of the residents, says Connie Boat, Lifestyles Coordinator.

“You really see their eyes light up when they embrace activities and spend time with one another,” says Boat. “We provide an exercise class in the morning and encourage games like dominos, Yahtzee and Scattergories. We also have guests come in to play music or sing. These activities provide a foundation for the residents to build strong, meaningful relationships which lead to more fulfilled lives.”

The engagement at Zeeland comes full circle with individual lifestyle plans that identify each person’s strengths and talents and strives to enhance the well-being of each resident. Team members talk to residents about their personal histories, identify their hobbies and find ways to re-integrate those interests into their daily lives. West considers this to be an essential element of respecting and honoring the past and present lives of the residents.

“We’ve found several of our residents love to garden. When it’s nice outside, the residents and caregivers plan to go to the courtyard garden to take care of flowers and water plants,” says West. “We’ve found this to be incredibly therapeutic and it strengthens the mind, body and spirit of the residents.”

To further promote engagement, the community provides a homey environment with a family-style epicenter that is designed to enhance life, freedom and peace-of-mind for residents and their family members.

“The layout plays a significant role in the well-being of the residents. Their rooms surround a kitchen and living area that really brings everyone together,” says West. “In the morning, they wake up to the smell of coffee brewing and bacon and eggs cooking­, just like home. They gather in the dining area and eat together like a family.”

The decor at Zeeland features a Dutch heritage theme that provides a welcoming, comfortable home setting with all the amenities, including an individual studio and private bathroom for each resident, as well as three personalized meals prepared daily in the community’s kitchen.

“You get to choose what to eat for every meal,” says Vander Waal. “That’s something that many people take for granted.”

Simple things such as eating what you want, when you want is a matter of choice that is often unavailable at other centers offering memory support. In fact, several long-term care centers provide a weekly meal plan for all residents with no room for variations.

Zeeland, however, offers a resident-directed food option that is driven by the needs and desires of residents. From delicious food to a welcoming environment and from lifestyle wellness plans to fun activities, Zeeland has created an engaging experience that enables residents to continue living actively and independently with a positive, meaningful outlook.

Only seven studios are still available at Zeeland at The Cottages. For more information, contact Angie Lyng, Director of Community Outreach, at 628-1244 or