Community Stories/News

A New Approach to Dementia Care

The statistics are sobering. Currently, every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Perhaps you know someone who has been affected or someone who needs dementia care in New Hampshire or Vermont. If so, you know the toll it takes on the individual and their caretakers. A cure has yet to be found.

Two years ago, The Morrison Communities in Whitefield embarked on a new approach to dementia care that is led by our Dementia Education team of trained staff, led by our Memory Care Community Director Mary Bates, MS, CT, and a Certified Dementia Practitioner. The comprehensive program of dementia education empowers staff, residents’ families and friends, and anyone who would like to have a greater understanding of dementia with active ways to care for someone living with the disease.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts-New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the dementia education program, called Habilitation Therapy, employs a non-pharmacological approach to dementia care that uses practical techniques to enrich and promote a positive quality of life.

“We are able to adapt the training strategies to our current residents, entering into their reality and being open to understanding what it is they are trying to communicate,” says Bates. “It’s been so amazing and enlightening to see how effective it is.”

Successful strategies don’t minimize the fact that an individual’s personality, abilities and desires change and diminish as the dementia progresses. “We are trying to help families to relate to their loved one in a meaningful way that helps the person with dementia feel loved and understood,” Bates says.

Through this periodic column, The Morrison Communities Dementia Education Team would like to share the experience, knowledge and resources we rely on with the Caledonian-Record’s readers looking for help with dementia care in New Hampshire and Vermont anticipating that they will be useful for anyone living with, caring for or coming into contact with a person with dementia. The following is an example of one of the strategies we employ that helps reassure and keep residents safe.

Strategy: Bright green is one of the last colors that people living with dementia lose. That simple but valuable piece of information is put into use on a regular basis by the Morrison’s staff. Bright green duct tape is used to wrap around the handles of walkers that residents with dementia sometimes forget to use; now when they see that green tape it prompts them to use their walkers and helps to keep them safe. Bright green duct tape, inexpensive to purchase and easily replaced when worn, can also be used to mark door handles and thresholds, helping people with dementia recognize their living space.

Send your questions to Understanding Dementia at Summit, 56 Summit Drive, Whitefield, NH 03598 or email We will share information and answer as many questions as possible through this column.

Mary Bates is the Assisted Living and Memory Care Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Mary is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.

 The Morrison Communities is a non-profit 501©(3) charitable community that has been providing quality healthcare to residents of New Hampshire’s North Country since 1903. Learn more at

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