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By Nancy McClure

The Saint Louis area has had a major growth in Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities.  There are over 20 new communities being built and each one is trying to get your attention with the latest in Care Trends – Aromatherapy, Teepa Snow, Greenhouse……

Deciding on a place is hard enough, but what are these new ideas about?

Greenhouse Senior Living is based on the concept of small homes with around 10 people in each home.  There is no set schedule and the activities are based on the residents in the home.  Meals are prepared based on the likes and dislikes of the residents and they are encouraged to participate in cooking whenever possible.  The staff is trained in the latest trends for care such as Teepa Snow and Person-Centered Care.  

Teepa Snow is an expert in the field of dementia.  She has developed ideas on what the individualized care should be for patients with dementia.  One of the essentials she teaches is to try to live in the moment the dementia patient is living in.  An example is that If the patient with dementia thinks she is supposed to pick up her kids at school then the caregiver is to go along with her time frame and tell her that school is not out yet and redirect her by saying something like “let’s go look at the flowers until time to pick up the kids”.  If you correct the person with dementia by saying “Your kids are grown and at work” then the dementia patient will become agitated.  

Person-Centered Care is another concept that is being touted by the new communities.  This concept is to allow the residents to determine the activities instead of a scheduled developed by an activities director.  The residents are allowed to decide when and what they want to eat.


As part of the new care some holistic approaches are included in the care, such as aromatherapy, music therapy, and pet therapy.  These are tools to help calm down a resident who is agitated rather than using drugs.  

The hardest part is training the caregivers to change their thought process and automatic response.  When visiting these communities watch the caregivers and see how they care for the residents.  You will see that some have accepted the ideas and others have not.  This is a slow process but progress is being made.  

What about the old communities?  Some have started to update their training to include these new concepts.  It is important to ask and to watch for yourself.