Gerontologist Beverly Sanborn has been studying memory care dining for decades. Sanborn is vice president of program development at Belmont Village Senior Living, a Houston-based senior living provider, where she wrote the memory care program.
Sanborn always visits Belmont communities at mealtime, and that’s intentional. It gives her the chance to assess where each senior is at with dementia, and also how good the staff is at responding and offering cues and prompts (more on that later).
Senior dining’s progressive shift toward individual-based care, combined with the fact that there’s not a lot of data on the subject, means that “everyone is a study of one,” Sanborn says. “Everyone is unique. You have to train staff to be scientists and observers. It’s critical that you develop your observational skills and observe how that person is functioning, how you approach them and how you can help. However, there are some patterns and there are enough similarities, so you learn some basics.”
Sanborn shared with us background, fascinating scientific facts and a few observable behaviors and situations that, through observation, can unlock the keys to improving any memory care dining program.