COLUMBUS — Tucked away in a nondescript corner of Columbus is a diverse, active community that many are completely unaware of, despite the fact that it’s been in that same location for nearly 20 years.

Edgewood Vista Memory Care in Columbus is a 12-bed senior living community that provides a comfortable, home-like environment for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. If you are in the limited population of individuals who have never known or loved one of the 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, you likely also fall in the group of Columbus-area residents who are unfamiliar with Edgewood Vista.

What is Edgewood Vista?

As mentioned, Edgewood Vista is a diverse, active community where residents live as independently as possible within a home-like environment specifically designed to enhance a sense of security and belonging. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia do not discriminate. Throughout their nearly 20 years, Edgewood staff have cared for hundreds of residents who have become part of their Edgewood family: men, women, wealthy, lower-income, grandfathers, aunts, cousins, sisters, doctors, nurses, farmers, mechanics, teachers; regrettably no one is exempt. At Edgewood, they understand that Alzheimer’s and memory loss affect each individual and family differently and that each has his or her own journey; it is Edgewood’s responsibility and gift to help each resident celebrate his or her greatness.

An extension of the family

At Edgewood, staff receive ongoing training to understand the conditions and challenges associated with the changes that result from living with memory loss. Their staff take the time to get to know each resident and understand how to connect with and best care for him or her individually. In order to become a true extension of each resident’s family, they need the help of those family members, because no one knows their loved one better than they do. Edgewood asks families to share information about their loved one’s life history, special memories, childhood stories, life’s passions; what truly makes them, them.

Edgewood recently welcomed two new leadership team members to their Columbus community.

Tina Merry, executive director, joined the Edgewood team in July. Merry offers the Edgewood team three years of assisted living administration experience, a wealth of knowledge and an unmatched compassion for Edgewood’s residents.

“I’ve worked with seniors in several different settings, yet I’m truly excited to provide exceptional, individualized care and a comfortable home for this unique group of residents,” said Merry. “I’m honored to lead the team at Edgewood and plan to continue their long history of providing high-quality services to our residents and their families."

Megan Indra, assistant executive director, is a licensed practical nurse and more recently joined the team in August. Indra's experience includes six years in long-term care and assisted living settings, as well as five years of experience in public health.

“I’ve always loved working with seniors and am excited to join the Edgewood team,” said Indra. “I know everyone on our team is here for the right reasons; to take great care of our residents."

Additionally, the Edgewood community in Columbus employs multiple caregivers, on site 24/7, to provide assistance, support and sometimes simply companionship for their residents; their staff-to-resident ratio allows them to provide residents more one-on-one attention as needed. They also have a life enrichment assistant who schedules, plans and leads daily activities for residents, meant to keep them physically, socially and cognitively stimulated and engaged. As residents lose the ability to learn new things, Edgewood’s staff members reaffirm what residents do remember, to improve self-esteem and reinforce positive experiences.

The Edgewood difference

Many people are unaware, but if they asked the average individual with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia his or her age, he or she would most likely identify an age somewhere between 18 and 40. This is because as the disease progresses, the age they are in their mind regresses. Edgewood staff embrace the fact that they play a special part in caring for their residents and families and helping both parties adjust and thrive in their new reality.

No matter how hard anyone tries, they cannot bring back the short-term memory of someone living with Alzheimer’s. They can, however, take hold of those long-term memories and use them to create joy, comfort and a sense of security for that person living with memory loss. This means everyone else around that individual must live in their unique reality.

At Edgewood they understand there’s not always one right answer for everyone; two different people will react to similar situations in very different ways. Admittedly, Edgewood staff do not have all the answers, but what they can offer is over two decades of Alzheimer’s and memory care expertise, caring for residents and families who find themselves navigating through this complex journey.

What are life stations?

If you’ve ever visited the Edgewood Vista community, maybe you were wondering why there are old gardening supplies, a laundry basket full of random clothes or a bassinet and baby dolls lying around. Those are part of Edgewood’s life stations, they help their residents spark old memories and create activities that encourage interest, movement and interaction. Life stations are helpful in the retention of memories from years past and create moments of joy for their residents.

These life stations are engaging, dynamic and reflect the wants, needs and historical past of Edgewood’s current residents and will need to adapt as their population changes. It is important that the residents define the life stations and not vice versa. Using activities such as gardening, working with tools, desk work and folding laundry, life stations help residents revisit and retain memories in a comforting way and also provide a sense of purpose through familiar activities. Usually, a resident who engages in life stations is less likely to wander, has reduced levels of stress and anxiety and exhibits a calmer demeanor.

Creating the best possible outcomes while moving forward

At Edgewood they understand residents and their family members struggle with the fact that they cannot control Alzheimer’s disease or other memory loss conditions; the only thing they can control is their reaction to the disease and how they move forward in partnership with the Edgewood team. Edgewood staff strives to help families learn how to visit and connect with their loved ones in new and different ways as their abilities, communication and reality change; they are truly a resource, partner and expert.

For nearly 20 years, Edgewood Vista has been an often-overlooked member of the Columbus community. Although some may be fortunate enough to never have a family member or someone they love have a need for their services, their goal is to continue to educate the greater community on how they help their residents and the families, friends and people who love them thrive throughout their journey with memory loss.