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A Unique Approach to Memory Care

Mary Ferguson

Mary Ferguson

Mary is the Director of Sales & Community Relations at Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care Community. With more than two decades of senior care experience. Mary was instrumental in starting the Dementia Friendly of Westmont.

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Finding the Right Memory Care and Support Community

There’s a lot to consider when selecting a memory care facility. Individuals affected by memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease not only require specialized professional services, but also an environment that assists them every step of the way.

A recognized leader in memory care, The Birches has a depth of experience creating places where seniors with cognitive support needs can live their best lives. We’ve helped thousands of people preserve their dignity, make new friends, and accomplish more than their loved ones thought possible. Our work has earned us the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) “Excellence In Care Distinctive Community” designation. More important, it’s earned us the trust of our residents’ families who continually look to us to ensure their peace of mind.

A Leader in Memory Care

While many facilities have large populations serviced by few staff, The Birches offers a 1-to-8 staff-to-resident ratio. This ensures every resident receives any help they need anytime, around the clock. Additionally, we staff dedicated licensed nurses seven days a week to help manage or administer any medications. We are the only community locally that has a dedicated memory care licensed nurse and a dedicated assisted living nurse in addition to our full-time Register Nurse (RN). You have professional expertise and support seven days a week at The Birches.

Residents of The Birches also benefit from greater activities programming, available 12 hours a day, every day, versus the typical 8.

We also distinguish ourselves by providing personalized services to our residents. This includes comprehensive, custom-tailored wellness plans and specialized meals and menus to meet nutritional and dietary needs, inclusive of any restrictions. Indeed, we are dedicated to delivering support that enables every resident to thrive. We have both high resident retention (95%) and staff retention (85%) rates, indicative of our exemplary approach to service and satisfaction.

Using Montessori to Improve Residents’ Quality of Life

The Birches’ uses the “Montessori” Method — a clinically proven approach in memory care. Through this thinking, we combine institutional design, personalized activities, signage, and specific care principles to enhance residents’ abilities and increase their satisfaction. In fact, The Birches is the only Illinois-based memory care facility certified in the Montessori Method.

We know from clinical studies that bigger buildings are not always better. In fact, wide-open spaces, tall ceilings, and big-feature amenities that may seem attractive can actually be bewildering to those needing memory support, causing unnecessary anxiety, fear, and distress. The Birches Memory Care community is purposely designed to “feel like home” and our team members treat residents as good friends and a neighbor that supports you as a neighbor. The way a home should be. 

Through Montessori thinking, The Birches has purposely avoided large spaces in favor of smaller, cozier nooks and gathering areas. There are no long hallways or tricky corridors. Offices are located throughout each building making it easy to always find help. And high-visibility signage is placed throughout the complex to make daily trips a breeze.

 Each apartment follows a very intuitive design, considering residents’ typical routines and needs. In fact, everything from the flooring material to where the lighting is placed and how a closet appears has been thought through with Montessori principles in mind.

Additional Memory Care Benefits

In addition to physical structures, we’ve integrated visual cues to reinforce memory and understanding. For example, important objects (like phones or help buttons) are placed within residents’ line of sight, each space has its own name to improve familiarity, and ample signage is available to help residents get from one place to another easily.

The Birches also offers “discovery opportunities” designed to reinforce residents’ autonomy, comfort, and self-expression. This includes various recognizable objects, crafts, puzzles, and games that are meaningful to them. Seeing these objects prompts good memories and provides a chance to interact with new friends through activities they already know and enjoy.

Added Safety, Hygiene, and Peace of Mind

Part of our Montessori approach includes resident safety enhancements. Thus, we’ve removed clutter and extraneous objects and furniture.

We also ensure meticulous hygiene to keep our residents’ healthy.  All private and community spaces are frequently disinfected. Our UV-C disinfection process is recommended by the CDC and is much more effective than typical disinfection. We use R-Zero, a hospital-grade UV system that provides a germ-killing light, further enhancing the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the community.

Our facilities are safe and secure, staffing compassionate team members who are specially trained to care for residents living with memory loss. Daily wellness checks along with six-month mobility checkups shape each resident’s personalized care plan. These safety measures ensure that each resident is staying on track with their wellness goals.

The Birches also leverages the award-winning Vigil Memory Care System, which uses hard-wired, passive sensors and sophisticated software to monitor safety. This eliminates the need for residents to wear wristbands, which they may forget or damage. Our emergency software system also “checks in” with each wireless device (pendant, bathroom button, bed sensor, door sensor, etc.) twice a day to make it is working properly.

Maximizing Residents’ Dignity

Our Montessori principles and guiding philosophies all focus on optimum resident care, dignity, autonomy, and protection. We hold ourselves accountable to extremely stringent protocols and standards of care, and we participate in an audit from the Illinois Department of Public Health annually and a special AFA audit biannually.

Each lease includes a list of resident rights and resources. We also provide contacts for the DuPage County Ombudsman, should a resident need to elevate any concerns.

As you explore memory care facilities, there are many things to consider.

Each community is unique, and it’s important to find one that fits well with your loved one to ensure they will thrive in their new home. You'll want to tour the community to see how staff interact with residents and what the building layout is like. And you’ll want to make sure it provides the best in services, design, support, nutrition, activities, that enable you or your loved one to live their best life.

Discover everything The Birches has to offer. Request a personalized tour of the community.