“Memory care” has such a benevolent ring to it, a feeling of something precious being cared for and lovingly tended. It seems unblemished in its innocence and flawless within its intertwined parts.

It almost seems a contradiction, then, when photos reveal the inner workings of life at Heartis Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Photographs capture the playful jabs that are exchanged between residents as a blackjack game heats up. The camera unveils paintbrushes that are dipped in vibrant colors and whirled across the palette. A swift click discloses the uncontained thrill that residents feel when they hold Daisy the Pig, when they try their hand at making ice cream, and when they discover the hidden relics at a nearby museum.

When staff are asked the proverbial question, “What do you do all day?” their response is often met with an awkward silence and an inevitable, “Oh.” Recreating a casino within the walls of a memory care facility may seem unorthodox, after all.

But what many people don’t understand is that although Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease that impacts one in ten people over age 65, the majority of those affected are living with the disease. Up until the very end, people with dementia — much like people with cancer — can lead cheery lives, experiencing a remarkable level of pleasure that many of us deem impossible for them.

At Heartis, we recognize that it’s up to us to adapt our thinking and behavior, to devise new ways to engage, to creatively stimulate and empower those who deserve more than a mere label.

That’s why we’ve crafted an environment full of enriching experiences. Residents can get all gussied up at our on-site beauty salon and barber shop. They can paint, draw, or otherwise decorate a door hanging. They can compete in lively word games, learn from a historian about World War II, and interact with our community’s adopted dog. Really, the only limitation is our imagination. And of that, we have plenty.

Something we like to remind our visiting families and residents of is this: For some of us, memories are as flexible as a rubber band and as likely to disappear as a snowflake amidst a blazing fire. For others, we want to remove the memories of our past like we want to remove a bandage – as quickly as possible. And for others, memories are like a radiant sunset on the distant horizon – beautiful when we can conjure them, but often unattainable.

Yet for all our differences, one thread ties all of us together – we want to grow from the past, relish the present, and look forward to the future. We are frequently asked if this is possible in memory care environments. Our answer is a resounding, “Yes!” If you’d like to learn how, please consider visiting Heartis Assisted Living and Memory Care at www.heartis.com or email us at live@heartis.com. See how we make memories together.