In December, families gathered across Acadiana to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones, but for some families reuniting for another year of holiday cheer, coming face to face with their elderly parents and grandparents was not as merry as they expected.
Often families notice certain changes in their relatives’ behavior and demeanor that otherwise go undetected from the routine phone call — loss of a conspicuous amount of weight or repeating something a little too often for simple absent-mindedness. If so, they may be showing signs that they’re in danger of the most common form of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease.
|Photo by Robin May|
|Kathie Zimmermann and Kim Schneider of Emeritus Lafayette|
And if such a potentially devastating conclusion is made, many families are left to wonder about their options. Fortunately, several local options for care exist for Alzheimer’s patients in the Acadiana area.
One such option is Emeritus Lafayette Senior Living Community, part of one of the largest chains of assisted-living, retirement and Alzheimer’s care communities in North America. The non-medical facility affords both assisted living as well as memory care services, which are tailored toward a hands-on approach for those who have been diagnosed with dementia.
“The busiest time we see here is really around the holidays,” says Kim Schneider, regional director of marketing at Emeritus Lafayette. “Really a holiday is only one day, and you can pick them up and bring them home or whatever you’d like, but if they’re not safe [at home] then you’re really taking a big chance.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. In Louisiana alone, approximately 83,000 people were living with Alzheimer’s in 2010, up 14 percent from the 73,000 total in 2000.
“Typically with someone who has Alzheimer’s, they remember things from their childhood or their earlier age or their short term memory,” says Schneider. “We try to partner with the families to learn more about their [early] life such as when they were younger, times with their children and events that maybe they would still recollect. We then build their day around that.”
A few key things to be watchful of when seeing your elderly relatives after a long period of time are frequent confusion and disorientation, obvious weight loss, repetitive speaking, not taking medication, loss of time, tendency to wander and unfounded suspicions about family and friends. If you suspect your loved one may be in danger of succumbing to dementia, it’s best to start early not only to catch the disease in its first stages, but to confirm that the proper preparations can be made as many assisted living and memory care facilities are subject to deposits and long waiting lists.
But perhaps the best advice a family can receive while deciding on how best to care for a loved one suffering from dementia is that of someone who has already gone through the ordeal.
Local land surveyor Sterling LeJeune is one such person. LeJeune admitted his late mother Ann LeJeune Bowen — one of the founding media personalities at KLFY-TV10 — to Maison de Lafayette this past summer after she began developing dementia-like symptoms and refusing to continue her physical therapy for her broken hip.
“She began experiencing memory loss and began having a hard time identifying people,” recounts LeJeune. “As the dementia progressed, she would become manic and then depressed, manic and then depressed; it was a sad thing to watch happen to your parent.”
LeJeune laments that it wasn’t until he was flipping through her trusty day planner not long after he admitted his mother to Maison de Lafayette that he realized the depth of what she was facing.
“When we opened it up and looked back at the last nine months or so, she had made post-it notes on everything,” he says. “You could tell she was starting to slip and that she recognized it.”
Asked what advice he would give families who may be preparing to enter a similar ordeal, LeJeune offers one kernel of wisdom. “The children of the parents need to prepare themselves for role reversal,” he says. “It can be very depressing, but that’s what happens. You become the parent and the parent becomes the child.”
“These things don’t happen overnight. It may be a very gradual thing, and if you haven’t seen your family member in a long period of time then you may dismiss it,” warns Mo Hannie, who co-founded Rosewood Retirement & Assisted Living with his brother Nicol 16 years ago. Last January, IND Monthly reported on Hannie’s plans to build a lockdown personal memory care facility that would focus solely on patients suffering from dementia, which he would dedicate to his late father Dr. Edward Hannie who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
“What I try to get people to understand is dementia is demented,” says Hannie. “There’s no cookie-cutter way a person is going to be affected by dementia. My dad would do things like a child would do. Some people hallucinate. Some people can’t function in a group or setting of other people.”
Hannie has named the facility Cedar Crest Personal Memory Living and says he expects to break ground at the property on Beadle Road in April, with the facility up and running by the end of 2013.
According to Hannie, Cedar Crest will be an all-inclusive facility catering not just to its patients but to their family members.
“We’re going to go a step further than we do at Rosewood,” he says. “We’re going to offer them everything other than nurse care. We’re going to have a neurologist who’s going to be able to consult with the families. We deal with a couple of gerontologists now that are going to consult with us. We’re going to have a beauty shop. We’re going to have an ice cream shop. We’ll do transportation. We’ll do scheduled activities. We’ll do maid service. We’ll do cooking, cleaning. All these things and then some.”
Prospective families will be happy to hear that both the Emeritus and Cedar Crest facilities offer their own “open door” policy and welcome any and all family members desperate for understanding and guidance through such a traumatic time.
“It’s such a big decision to make. It’s almost like looking for a school for your child,” says Schneider. “It’s Emeritus’ philosophy that if someone is not able to live with us we always will help the families find a place that they can go. We give them names of people or will refer them to other places, and we stay in contact with them until they know that person is safe.”
Hannie offers a similar outlook for his forthcoming memory care facility.
“We just want to be able to help these people, friends, family, strangers, it doesn’t matter,” says Hannie. “We want to be able to help them put themselves in the right direction.”
For more information on Emeritus at Lafayette visit www.emeritus.com. And for more information on Cedar Crest Personal Memory Living, visit cedarcrestliving.com.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.