Center: Melissa Weidman, memory program coordinator at Belmont Village, is with Dr. Robert Marin, Jeanette Alexander, Odette Holcomb, and Valinda Costabell during a Circle of Friends group session.
Photo by Melissa Donald 

Today’s Transitions is recognizing local services and communities whose innovative ideas are improving the quality of life for seniors and caregivers. Read about one of our four Today’s Transitions Innovation Award winners who won in the Innovative Healthcare Services category.

WINNER: Belmont Village Senior Living

Innovation: Circle of Friends, focusing on mental fitness and physical activity for seven days a week for those with dementia.

Type: Alzheimer’s Care

Size: 110 residents

Circle of Friends is a program developed at Belmont Village Senior Living to help reduce apathy in people with mild to moderate dementia. Beverly Sanborn, LCSW, MSW gerontologist and vice president of program development at Belmont Village Senior Living, says the program builds cognitive reserve, which appears to delay symptoms. “You have extra capacity available in your brain. This is called cognitive reserve. If you develop the extra capacity, according to researchers, you could lose brain cells, but your brain could still function longer,” she says. The benefit, Sanborn says, is residents become more engaged with their peers and feel valued. “The program breathes life back into the residents. They will come to the group on their own. The group is their therapy and they love it,” Sanborn says. Belmont Village Senior Living hopes to incorporate dance and music into the program in the future. Sanborn also says she would like for their Circle of Friends model to be replicated in other facilities.

You can nominate someone for our 2018 Today’s Transitions Innovation Awards here. Also, find out what to do when your loved one’s memory begins to fade.