A day away from the ordinary for residents living with dementia

Skirted rear wheels, a cloisonné emblem on its hood and silver metallic lacquer make the Tatra 87
hard to miss. The vintage automobile immediately caught the eye of four residents from The Lutheran
Home: Belle Plaine’s Special Care Residence on a tour of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) this fall. The museum visit was funded through Special Care Solutions, a Nursing Facility Performance-Based Incentive Payment Program (PIPP) grant awarded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Special Care Solutions is creating an innovative model of evidence-based and multifaceted approaches for skilled nursing — including Alzheimer’s and dementia care — that can be duplicated on a state and national level.

“SgrantMia.jpgecial Care Solutions enhances the quality of care and the quality of life for the residents living with dementia whom we serve,” said Ann Robinson, Administrator at The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine.
“One of the ways we achieve that is by increasing our residents’ engagement through meaningful
activities like visiting MIA.”

At MIA, residents took a “Discover Your Story” tour, which involves individuals in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s, and their family, friends or care partners, in discussions focused on thematically-related artworks. Participants are encouraged to discover themselves while
reminiscing about, reflecting upon or comparing their own life stories to the stories in works of art.
The Lutheran Home residents visited galleries with farm photos and pictures of the changing  seasons, as well as stopping to marvel at the Tatra 87.

“The highlight was that car,” said Marian Mielke. She attended with her husband, Richard, who moved to the Special Care Residence this year.

TatraMia.jpgNamed after the Slovakian mountain range where the cars were tested, only 3,000 Tatras were built before production was cut short by World War II. The Tatra could travel at speeds of 100 mph and was the automobile of choice for Hitler’s Nazi officers.

As they toured the museum, Marian noticed how residents seemed to associate more in a small group than they might normally. They enjoyed a picnic lunch, fresh air, a change of scenery and new people.

“They get to see something different and it’s something to look forward to,” Marian said. “It takes their mind off everything else.”

Special Care Solutions has additional supports for improving quality of life, including technology tools, improved therapy outcomes, increased caregiver competencies, improved reduction of psychotropic medications, an enhanced dementia-capable environment and opportunities to participate in art and music therapies.

At TLHA, memory care is not a lock on the door. It's a safe, comforting environment where those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can stay engaged with life.

*Tatra photo courtesy of MIA