The Colorado State Veterans Home at Rifle offers a 12-bed secure unit, or “neighborhood,” for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia who require additional structure and specialized attention. Called Grass Mesa, this neighborhood is designed to help residents maintain as much independence and freedom as possible, while also minimizing safety risks.
Elders in this neighborhood enjoy:
A home-style environment with Western décor and residents’ photos displayed on the walls;
Choices for dining anytime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., with options for special orders of hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, soups and other items;
A small kitchen offering ice cream, fruit and other snacks throughout the day;
A secure outdoor courtyard complete with picnic tables; and
Opportunities for barbecues and other gatherings attended by elders and family members alike.
For residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, nursing staff and other employees work to understand the elders’ needs based on their body language, preferences and information from family members, all of which assist staff in dealing with challenging behaviors.
The veterans home also seeks to eliminate common long-term-care “plagues” of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. To accomplish this within its secure unit, the Home provides:
Care tailored to meet individual physical, psychosocial and rehabilitative needs and to help residents maintain their sense of self worth and wellbeing;
Specialized activities including name-that-tune games, ball tossing, arts and crafts, chair exercises and scenic drives through the countryside;
Opportunities to promote self-esteem and independence through familiar daily routines and tasks such as folding laundry and helping prepare apple pies, cookies and other special dishes;
Onsite physician services and transportation to dental and other medical appointments outside the nursing home; and
An Alzheimer’s support group for family members.
In addition, the staff uses a flexible, gentle, individualized approach to bathing that follows “Bathing Without a Battle” principles, helping ease residents through this sometimes-stressful activity. Bathing rooms are equipped with music, towel warmers and heating units, and residents are offered individual choices regarding bathing times and preferences for baths or showers.
In short, the State Veterans Home at Rifle believes that even if residents have trouble speaking, they still have a voice.
Nursing staff members receive specialized dementia training that promotes resident choice and independence. Also, the secure neighborhood maintains a consistent group of staff, helping residents become familiar with their caregivers and promoting a sense of family.
Our family-like environment is reinforced by staff, some of whom have been with the Rifle home for many years. For example, the lead registered nurse on the Grass Mesa neighborhood has worked on the memory care team for more than 10 years. In addition, some of the certified nursing assistants (CNAs) have been on the memory care staff for four to six years for two or more years, and other CNAs have two or more years experience on this neighborhood.
The secure unit is designed for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia who require additional structure and specialized attention, have unsafe wandering behavior and are considered a danger to themselves or others.
As with other services offered by the Colorado State Veterans Home at Rifle, residents must be honorably discharged veterans, veterans’ spouses or “Gold-Star Parents,” any of whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces.