During the month of November we celebrate National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
A time to educate about the disease, celebrate the amazing caregivers and recognize the many struggles and success’s that come with both living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who does.
Just recently in 2023, President Biden proclaimed that November would be Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s Disease is recognized in many ways and throughout many months. In June we celebrate The Longest Day honoring caregivers on the day with the most light. In September and October communities around the country participate in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, raising both funds and awareness in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
At Northbridge, we are celebrating National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month but featuring a few of our compassionate, dedicated and incredible Avita Program Directors. Avita Program Directors oversee programming in our Avita Memory Care neighborhood. They are some of the most caring, passionate and creative people you will ever meet and we are lucky that they share their talents with Northbridge!
Avita Program Director: Alex Velez
Community: Avita of Stroudwater
What first made you interested in working in Memory Care?
Family connections. My grandfather was challenged with caregiving for my grandmother so I wanted to educate myself on this disease to be a support to my family during my grandmothers journey. I was able to support my family as well when my great grandmother developed a diagnosis and I was knowledgeable from working in the field.
How long have you been working in Memory Care and what was your first job in this field?
Avita of Stroudwater was my first job in the field! I started here as an intern in college in 2014. I was promoted through different positions within Avita and worked my way up to becoming the Avita Program Director in 2018.
What is your favorite part about working with residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
I feel like I walk into a different environment every day. Our residents have lived great lives, and they share so many parts of their memories and lives with us. I feel fortunate to be part of their journey and the changes happening in their life.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia?
That’s a tough one! I wish that there was a better understanding that just because someone is living with Alzheimer’s and dementia doesn’t mean they aren’t still the same person. With a little bit of patience and a lot of compassion people will shine, no matter where they are in life.
What is your favorite program to run with residents?
Any program that involves music – like our newest class, Barre Balance, are favorites for me. The residents love the music and the movement and you get to see the fun and worry-free side of their personalities come out.
What is a popular program among your residents?
Outings are big hits – any day we can get out of the community is a good day. The residents also love educational programs. For example, we’ve had classes teaching Spanish and American Sign Language that really engaged the residents. They love to learn!
What is one piece of advice you would share with someone starting out in a career working in memory care?
This job takes a special heart. You need to have patience and compassion to be able to work successfully with residents. You will find many rewards in this field if you allow yourself to be natural and engaging with the residents.
What keeps you invested in the field of memory care?
The people and the relationships you build. In this field you are part of something important. You’re making an impact in the lives of others each and every day and they are making an impact in your life too!
What is your favorite part about your job?
Knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives every day. Staying busy as there is always something to do or someone to help. I love every aspect of the job. I feel very fortunate to have the relationships with our residents and families.
We asked our families to provide testimonial about why Alex, her team and Avita of Stroudwater are so special, here is what they had to share:
“Thank you Alex, for helping my dad with his transition into the Avita community. My family and I appreciate all of your kindness and effort put forth throughout this time. Thank you again!” – Sara L., resident daughter
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alex and her entire team for providing an array of activities geared towards our loved ones at Avita. We have attended activities and been invited to participate in some with residents. No matter the level of dementia, the activity team allows residents to participate. The team shows patience, kindness and caring for our loved ones.” – Patricia and Jane, resident daughters
“Alex- just a quick note to you and your team for all of your efforts with my sister Helen and all of the residents by engaging and encouraging them with activities and loving personal attention as needed. I am not able to be there and see your efforts in person but I hear about the benefits from your excellent coordination. Thank you for all you do!” – Art P., resident brother
“Alex and her team do a great job planning activities for the residents. She always takes time to say hello to Peter and me. She always has answers for any questions. Love how upbeat she is! Thanks Alex.” – Pat C, resident wife
“Alex, thanks for the fabulous job you and your staff do every day with all the residents. It’s a difficult task but you show so much joy, it’s contagious. Everyone on your staff is always so positive and pleasant with everyone. I know they appreciate it. You are part of the glue that holds everything together. You and your staff embody the ethos at Avita.” – Tod A.
“I am writing this note to say THANK YOU to all of the activities crew at Avita and a special note of gratitude to Alex who organizes the events and activities. This month in recognition of Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness my mom participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I know she enjoyed being outdoors with others and in the middle of lively activities. She does not always remember where she has been or what she has done. She told me she went to Bangor with a big smile on her face, but I’m pretty sure it was closer to home. Those moments brought her smiles, as I am sure it did many others as well. It means so very much to all of us that you, Alex, and your team are the caring people that you are. You make others smile and engage. It is your generosity of caring for others that makes the world and Avita a better place and where moments come to life. PS – I remember walking by Alex on my way to the autumn neighborhood one evening this fall. It might even have been a weekend night and there was Alex with her colleagues and some residents outside toasting marshmallows. What a warm and happy site to see. I had a smile on my face as I watched them enjoy an outside campfire. With lots of appreciation for all of you and what you do to make Avita a warm and welcoming happy place. Thank you.” Sheri A., resident daughter
“Thank you to Alex and all the wonderful and amazing activity coordinators for what you do each day to keep the residents involved and engaged. I’ve watched how you attempt to keep all residents participating in various activities during the day. I appreciate the time you take to fill me in on what mom has been up to. You all all absolutely terrific.” -Terry D., resident daughter
“With Alzheimer’s awareness month upon us I would like to recognize Alex. She has planned activities that have improved my mother’s overall health and well being. The activities are staffed with amazing people who love and support her and she feels good about herself. I am always impressed with how positive, and energetic the staff are and I see the positive impact it has on my mother. I see my mother as more motivated and engaged and happy. She seems content. Some of the activities like painting have tapped into her creativity. I love to see that. Our mother loves going on bike rides with Portland Wheelers- being outside and active is so good for her. The social activities have given our mother a voice and she seems so much happier. In short we really are grateful for and appreciate Alex for all the thought she puts into creating an environment which supports health and well being through a variety of social, cognitive, and physical activities. Thank you, Alex and thank you to each and every one of your staff who are amazing, kind and caring people. We are so glad our mom is a part of this community.” – Diana V., resident daughter
Northbridge residents enjoy engaging programs based on our three pillars of engagement – to move, to connect, to feel and to learn. All of our associates receive dedicated dementia training to provide the best and most compassionate care for our residents. Northbridge offers a variety of signature programs that provide our residents and families excellent engagement and learning opportunities as well as a sense of purpose. Be sure to learn more about our Northbridge Signature Programs, Senior Green, Artist in Residence, Cooking up Memories, Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Join My Journey.
Find a position at a Northbridge community near you!
Working at a Northbridge senior living community
If you are considering a career in senior living, we hope you’ll consider one of our communities. Our team of associates makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our residents, every day. Because of that, we treat our team like family and we’re happy to offer:
- Competitive Pay
- Flexible Schedules
- Direct Deposit
- Vacation & Personal Days
- Paid Holidays & Sick Time
- Your Birthday Off
- Health Insurance to Qualified Associates
- 401k Company Match
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Ongoing Education
- Associate Appreciation
View our careers website today to view open positions, what a day working at Northbridge is like, and why our associates love to work here.
As a New England senior living company, we pride ourselves in being the local choice for families in need of assisted living or memory care. We look to our teams of associates to truly make our communities home for our residents. Whether that’s a helping hand or a moment to listen to a story, our associates are dedicated and compassionate. With 19 communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we hope you’ll find your home here too. If you already love what you do, and want to love where you work, apply now! We look forward to meeting you.