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Lakeview Senior Living congratulates Michelle O’Neil, Program Director of their memory care program, on her employment anniversary and on continued successes in The Gardens, Lakeview’s secure memory care unit.

“Memory Care is not easy, glamorous or mundane,” says O’Neil. “It is hard work, messy and full of the unexpected! I've had the pleasure of working with seniors in a myriad of ways, over the last 15 years. Prior to working with seniors I worked in the financial field for 10 years. I worked banker's hours, wore heels every day and when I left the building I was done and had no worries. I don't wear heels anymore, I'm on call 24/7, and I'm always thinking of my residents. I love it and would never trade it for anything!”

Memory care differs from assisted living in that assisted living team members provide assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, transferring, medication management, etc.), meals, and housekeeping for the elderly and/or disabled. Memory care offers highly supervised care to residents with cognitive impairment (Alzheimer’s disease, dementias, etc.) in a secure setting, meeting the needs that are part of having a cognitive impairment and the very specific needs each individual resident.

“Memory care isn’t easy,” said O’Neil. “Holding the hand of a dying resident, who has no loved ones to visit them, cleaning up blood, fecal matter and urine, working long shifts, and having to tell family members their loved one passed away. I'm a senior advocate and they need the dedication of people who have compassion for them. I've been able to hire and educate care staff on how to assist residents with their daily activities of living. I teach them how to dress, toilet, feed, bathe, transfer, give meds and all the other things that caregivers need to know. I unfortunately cannot teach them compassion, therefore I’m very picky about who I choose to be part of my team.”

“Michelle is a fantastic asset,” said Jennifer Whitmyer, Executive Director of Lakeview Senior Living. “She’s trained memory care directors and executive directors all over Oregon, Washington, and Colorado over the years. She’s made a huge difference here, not just for our residents, but for their families and our staff, too.”

Recent events have added to the challenges caring for those with cognitive impairment.

“Between the pandemic and the wildfires here, our staff and families have been deeply impacted,” said O’Neil. “Our residents feel this impact as well and I want them to thrive. Just because a person has dementia doesn’t mean they’re not a person anymore. The reward comes when you connect with that person and they come shining through. There’s nothing sweeter.”

Meanwhile, the work continues.

“Memory care is hard work. Very hard work,” said O’Neil. “But I truly love what I do; the good, the bad, and the sad.”

Lakeview Senior Living is proud to celebrate Michelle O’Neil and her work with her memory care residents. For more information on memory care and how it differs from assisted living call 541-921-8923.

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