Residences at Deer Creek’s Michelle Parker is an expert at one of the most unique, and oftentimes challenging jobs in nursing – a memory care mentor. Every day, she cares for the senior living community’s residents that are living with memory challenges such as Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia.
“My job is all about making sure residents with dementia have a safe, healthy, and comfortable daily life,” Parker said. “That means making sure they take their medications, help with daily activities like bathing and getting dressed, and generally just spending time loving and taking care of them.”
Parker is a veteran of various kinds of nursing jobs and psychological care, but fell in love with memory care as soon as she gave it a try.
“Working with memory care residents is my passion,” she said. “I treat them as if they were my own family. They might have dementia, but the person they always were is still there and it’s so important to connect with them and let them know they’re cared about.”
She first joined the team at Residences at Deer Creek a little over six years ago, and right away knew that it was a special place.
“It’s different here because everything is so tailored to the individual,” Parker said. “If there’s someone who used to work with tools, we try and make sure they have different toy tools to play with, if they liked doing puzzles we make sure they have a lot to work on. It’s all centered on the resident and what they love.”
For Parker, getting to know all of those individuals and building a unique connection with each of them is the best part of the job.
“One my favorite things to do is ask our residents for one good piece of advice, one bit of wisdom,” she said. “The answers I get, even with them having dementia, are just amazing. They tell me things like ‘don’t do tomorrow what you can do today,’ ‘enjoy time with your kids while they’re young,’ ‘don’t get upset over the little things.’ They can still teach me a lot about what’s really important.”
When moving through those conversations or helping the residents out with daily activities, Parker finds that the most important things for her to be are patient and understanding.
“You need to meet them where they are,” she said. “You need to be in their world. If they think they’re going to the bus stop, well, I’m going to the bus stop too and I’ll schedule an appointment to head out there with them. Empathy is the biggest thing. It’s the golden rule, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
Ever since she walked through the doors to Residences at Deer Creek, Parker knew it was where she belonged.
“This is my calling,” she said. “Everything just clicks and feels so natural, and I love all our residents to pieces.”
To learn more about Residences at Deer Creek, visit www.residencesseniorliving.com/residences-at-deer-creek/.