2019 SCHA Awards
Outstanding Senior Care Professional

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Michael Bender Michael Bender

Michael Bender

Position: Director of Resident Engagement

Organization: Silverado Memory Care


List your nominee's experience in Senior Care.
Michael has worked in the senior care industry for over 20 years. As an only child, Michael started out volunteering at senior centers and assisted living communities during the summer. He has always felt connected to seniors and knew he wanted to help improve the quality of life for adults later in life. He spent countless hours providing care for his own mother at an early age who was diabetic and suffered from severe physical disabilities. Even when she was placed in assisted living, he continued to visit her until the end of her life. Even when it became burdensome to visit, his loyalty never faltered. He visited her every day until she passed away. Since her passing, Michael has worked his way up in this industry, starting as a med tech and caregiver, and eventually working in sales, leadership and engagements. He has now created a legacy that would have made his mother proud.

Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
Michael has a heart like no other person I know. He gives love 100% of the time to 100% of our residents. He has the ability to creatively find solutions for residents who may be sad, agitated, or anxious. As the Director of Resident Engagement at Silverado Memory Care, Michael has made it his mission to find purpose for all of our residents despite their dementia diagnoses. He spends his own time taking residents to go shopping to create a sense of "normalcy" for them. For some of the residents who have difficulty adjusting, he spends additional 1:1 time and establishes goals to improve their life.

One of our residents moved in who had a history of severe alcohol abuse and chain smoking. She had a diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia, a diagnosis that often comes with severe behavioral disturbances. Michael made it his mission to improve her quality of life by reducing her substance abuse and finding her a purpose. Many associates were afraid of this resident because of her verbally abusive communication and resistance to care, but Michael was not afraid. He embraced her with love and acceptance, and was able to quickly break down her walls. Michael figured out the resident's favorite drinks, and helped her wean off the alcohol and cigarettes through redirection into her favorite activities. Within several months, a resident who had been totally reclusive prior to living at our community was now regularly attending the activity program, making friends, and living a life of purpose. While other engagement directors may have pushed this task off to the clinical team, Michael displayed his interdisciplinary team approach by taking personal responsibility for the sense of wellbeing of the residents.

It is difficult to identify the most impactful stories of how Michael has improved the lives of seniors, because he has done this, without second thought, for over 20 years. He is referred to as "boss" by many residents who look to him for volunteer opportunities and chances to help contribute to the beauty and appeal of the community. Michael's attention to detail and ability to recognize unmet needs of residents with dementia is profound. Michael deserves to be recognized as a senior care hero for all of the profound contributions he has made to seniors within his professional and personal life. He makes this world a better place through his selfless love for those who need him.