Memory Care: Making Moments Meaningful

A Growing Need

In November 1983, when President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, that number is over 5 million. Approximately 1 in 7 adults aged 65 and over suffer from some form of dementia. With substantial growth in the aging population over the next decade, this number will only increase.

Providing the highest level of care to our residents has always been the main priority at Holland Home. When we started to develop our Memory Care services, this mission carried over. With these degenerative diseases affecting so many, it is no surprise that Memory Care has become such a big part of what we offer. This dedication has led our specially trained team to become one of only five Positive Approach to Care (PAC) designated facilities in the nation.

A Unique Approach. A Greater Impact.

What does being a PAC designated facility mean exactly? Simply put, it means we have a unique, empathy-based approach to caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients that enhances their lives.

The approach was developed by Teepa Snow, one of the leading educators on dementia and the care that accompanies it. Organizations may be recognized at one of five levels. Holland Home’s designation is based on the fundamental awareness that people living with dementia are doing the best they can with the brains they have. It’s our job as caregivers to provide them with meaningful and purposeful lives by:

  • Structuring their environments to be friendly and functional.
  • Approaching them with skills and knowledge based on the brain changes they are currently experiencing. 

Teepa’s care strategies and techniques take a look at what is known about brain function and the changes that happen with various conditions and integrate that information with therapeutic approaches. The result? Positive outcomes, more realistic expectations, and supportive environments that match retained and available abilities of people living with various forms of brain deterioration. When verbal communication and interaction abilities are altered, the ‘value of connection’ becomes the key factor.

“That ‘value of connection’ is extremely important,” says Rosemary Apol-Hoezee, RN, MPH, CPHRM, and Director of Quality & Education for the Memory Care department at Holland Home. “Teepa will say that caring for people living with dementia is all about the relationship, i.e., developing a relationship with that individual.  Additionally, PAC is the first of its kind and is used throughout the world today as a model for understanding the symptoms and addressing the needs to reduce distress and fill the day with opportunities for interaction that have meaning and value.”

The Team Behind It All

We would not be a PAC certified organization if it were not for our dedicated team, who go through 3-4 months of special training. The team at Holland Home consists of:

  • 4 certified PAC trainers
  • 5 certified PAC coaches
  • 1 certified PAC engagement leader
  • 1 certified PAC consultant

Together, this certified team leads the other front-line staff, helping them problem solve certain behaviors while serving as consultants and resource specialists. Holland Home caregivers also have the option to participate in the PAC Champion Series, a two-hour interactive session with Teepa’s team where our staff can demonstrate specific techniques and receive feedback.

One of the ways we put Teepa’s teachings into action is through virtual reality. To mimic the confusion that comes along with dementia, sound, vision, and sensory impairments are used to help staff see what dementia patients go through in their daily lives. When they are able to empathize, they can build better relationships with individual residents and provide a higher level of care.

The Dementia Coalition

Made up of gifted people across Nursing, Assisted Living, Home Care, Hospice, Housekeeping, and Administration, the multidisciplinary team works to continually raise the bar on our Memory Care services. Through quarterly meetings, they help drive the programs, resources, and the training and education that comes from the Holland Home Memory Care team.

LeadingAge Michigan awarded the Dementia Coalition Team with the “Leading-Edge Care and Services Award '' which recognizes an organization for programs and services that are models of innovation and excellence and contribute significantly to the quality of life of individuals served. The criteria for this award is that the organization provides a program of care or service that:

  • Emphasizes quality of life for the individuals served or significantly improves the organization’s operations
  • Provides proven benefits to the residents, staff, or organization
  • Has potential for application to the needs of other aging services organizations

Not only did the Dementia Coalition Committee receive the award, but we were also told that the committee that selects the winner for this award voted unanimously for the Holland Home Dementia Coalition.

The Need Continues

By 2050, it is estimated that over 16 million people will be suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The work that we do at Holland Home today will help set the precedent for future care. Becoming a PAC designated organization is just the beginning of our fight to help the millions suffering from this disease as we continue to evolve our care. To learn more about Holland Home’s Memory Care services and person-centered approach, visit