Thanks to evolving diagnosis techniques, older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia are often diagnosed in the early stages of the disease instead of the middle stages. This early diagnosis is crucial because it allows the person to be a part of their future planning and to advocate for their own care and wishes before cognitive decline accelerates. It also allows the person and their family members to create memories and work through emotions together, which is a gift for everyone.

An early diagnosis means an emphasis on future planning, including senior living options. Though many people living in the early stages of dementia can safely live at home alone, it is not always the best decision. The right senior living option can make living in the early stages of dementia empowering and comforting. Arbor’s innovative Bridges program offers the perfect mix of support and independence.

More About Early-Stage Dementia

Just like other stages of dementia, the early stage holds some significant challenges. The first is that the person living with dementia knows they are forgetting things, which can lead to increased depression, social isolation, and anxiety. Other challenges can include disorganization in daily tasks, a regular sensation of feeling overwhelmed, difficulty paying attention to details, and even personality changes.

However, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that the majority of people living in the early stage of the disease are still quite active and independent, taking part in volunteerism, work, and social events. An early-stage diagnosis can create an urgency to find a living solution that provides the opportunity to embrace that independence while still offering extra support that can decrease the stress of daily life.

What Is Bridges?

The Arbor Company has been serving seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia for more than three decades. When communities noticed that residents living with early-stage dementia were not quite a good fit for the Evergreen memory care program but were struggling in assisted or independent living, they knew they needed a new option: something in between.

The Bridges program was designed to be that in-between place, a haven of support, socialization, and independence. Bridges residents enjoy living among neighbors who understand the challenges of early-stage dementia and can often relax knowing that a caregiver is there to help with verbal cueing and household tasks.

Benefits of Bridges Life

It is important to note that the Bridges program is a specialized neighborhood within the greater Arbor community. This is not your average assisted living community. Instead, this neighborhood was designed only for those living in the early stages of cognitive decline, not quite ready for memory care support but not stimulated enough by assisted living programming.

Eliminating the stress of organizing life and household chores can free up the energy to focus on independence as well as hobbies and relationships that truly matter. Bridges residents have the opportunity to be supported and cared for as they are, without any need for masking or covering up their symptoms.

Benefits of living in Bridges can include:

  • Decreased stress, overstimulation, and feelings of overwhelm
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Less chance of medication errors or mismanagement thanks to caregivers keeping track of the schedule
  • Better nutrition with chef-prepared meals prepared and served daily in the social dining room
  • More opportunities for healthy social interaction 
  • Cognitive programs, events, and exercises designed to leave residents feeling empowered and capable (because they are!)
  • Better personal hygiene thanks to support and cueing from caregivers
  • Better communication with physicians thanks to caregivers and nurses advocating on behalf of the resident
  • Improved relationships with adult children and other family members because family members do not have to take on an informal caregiver role and can instead continue to create memories and moments with their loved one

Finding Bridges Near You

The right living environment can make a big difference in your safety, health, and happiness. This becomes even more true when you are living with an early-stage dementia diagnosis. Arbor’s one-of-a-kind Bridges program gives personalized care and support while enhancing independence, making it the ideal solution for those living in the early stages of the disease.

Learn more about Bridges, as well as general Alzheimer’s and dementia care, by downloading our free resource The Caregiver’s Complete Guide to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care.

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