By MORGAN MANNS
Hope. Happiness. Home.
Many may agree these were the feelings felt throughout Good Shepherd Home Thursday morning as residents, families, community members and business leaders toured the facility.
Hope for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. Happiness of their loved ones. And an overall sense of home between families and staff.
In partnership with the Kumon Institute, Good Shepherd Home is one of 18 facilities in the nation utilizing a non-pharmaceutical treatment called SAIDO that has proven to slow and even reverse the progress of Alzheimer’s, which, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The assisted living facility hosted several events throughout the day Thursday in an effort to demonstrate to Kumon officials what SAIDO offers at the home as well as better acquaint families and community members with the treatment. More than 50 people attended the day’s festivities, including 15 family members who offered their feedback.
“Before she came here (my mother-in-law) laid in bed and complained of a headache all day,” Barb Recker said, stating she brought her in-law, Betty Recker, to Good Shepherd Home when she heard of the SAIDO program. “She’s more active in the activities here and she’s all around a happier person. (SAIDO) has really made a difference in her life and in ours to see her happy.”
The therapy was developed about 15 years ago by the Kumon Institute of Education of Osaka, Japan. It is based on the concept that engaging in the simple, specific therapy stimulates the prefrontal cortex of the brain and can reverse dementia symptoms.
Twenty Good Shepherd Home residents participate in SAIDO, which is a series of exercises — including reading, writing and arithmetic — that are administered five times a week for 30 minutes in an effort to stimulate the prefrontal cortex.
A supporter, or a staff member trained in SAIDO Learning, is paired with one or two learners, or residents, and distributes mathematical materials, reading materials and a number board for learners to complete.
SAIDO Learning Institute Executive Director Chris Muller said there are 1,080 different worksheets on 18 levels and each learner receives a different worksheet every day they attend. After the materials are finished, the supporter will circle each paper and place a large 100 percent for effort.
“The goal of the program is not education,” Muller said. “The education materials are just a medium to activate the cortex. So even if they come up with the incorrect answer, they are still stimulating that prefrontal cortex.
“(The learners) praise them on their effort because receiving praise and positive feedback also activates that cortex.”
The reading materials include different topics that serve as hints and triggers to start communication at the end of the session.
“I think they’ve done a tremendous job,” Sandy Cooley, whose mother Mary Williams is a SAIDO participant, said. “I really believe the program has helped her a lot. ” I’m telling other people about the SAIDO program.”
Good Shepherd Home is licensed to offer the therapy through the Eliza Jennings Senior Community in Cleveland, the first facility to offer the therapy in the United States.
Currently, approximately 75 Good Shepherd Home staff members are trained in the program; however, Nicole Medina, RN, said the entire staff — including kitchen, maintenance, etc. — will be trained.
“This is so that they not only have the tools when they’re in sessions but also so that they have things to offer to residents to keep them stimulated when they’re not in session,” she said, then providing statistics showing patients were either improving or staying the same. “Even if they stayed the same, it means the program is working because they’re not declining.”
Following the press conference, city officials, business leaders and other community members supporting the SAIDO program were invited to a lunch at the nursing home along with board members to ask questions and hear about the program.
“It’s been an extremely moving morning for us to see what’s going on here at Good Shepherd Home,” Shinji Ito, senior vice president of Kumon Learning Therapy Center, said before lunch. “The most important thing about SAIDO is the respect we’re able to give residents. Older adults created our societies and our countries and they deserve our respect. The heart of SAIDO is interacting with those adults with respect in a way that allows them their dignities. For a community to be successful at SAIDO Learning, they need to have respect and I believe Good Shepherd Home is exactly that kind of community.”
For more information, visit www.goodshepherdhome.com/elizajennings.org.