Hoosier Companies Team Up on Dementia-Friendly Cruises

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A pair of Indiana companies is teaming up to provide people with dementia, their caregivers and loved ones opportunities to share a special trip together. American Senior Communities in Indianapolis has joined with Hobart-based travel agency Elite Cruises and Vacations to sponsor the agency's cruise that will take place in late February. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Kathy Shoaf, a registered nurse and owner of Elite Cruises and Vacations, says the trips serve as a lesson about living in the moment. 

"It's an opportunity to let them experience, and they still do experience, that joy and happiness of seeing things like the Panama Canal or having their feet in the Atlantic Ocean one more time," said Shoaf. "They do experience the happiness, the joy, and it's seen on their faces as we treasure those moments with them and their families. The clients with memory loss don't necessarily remember all of what happened the next day, but the families, the loved ones, the caregivers, they have that memory for the rest of their life."

Melanie Perry, director of memory care support services for ASC, says the effort lines up well with a shift in the long-term care industry toward wellness-based care.

"We realize that if we can concentrate on the abilities that are still remaining and are still very vital within the residents that we serve and the elders that we serve, that it really lends itself to a much richer quality of life than if we were to do what we use to traditionally do, which was to concentrate on the deficits," said Perry. "So the wellness-based model helps us to serve individuals and be the very best that they can be within a greater challenge such as dementia and going through the midst of that."

Perry says, for people with dementia, new experiences will help their brain maintain the healthiest state possible and also provide an emotional benefit. Shoaf says the trips come with trained medical professionals that can help the clients with any needs that may arise.

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