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Pa. care center opens Alzheimer's wing

March 10, 2001

Pa. care center opens Alzheimer's wing



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


FAYETTEVILE, Pa. - Caledonia Manor will open a 20-bed wing later this month for patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that results in memory loss, personality changes and a decline in thinking abilities," said Ronald Lyons, executive director of Caledonia Manor nursing home.

Patients suffering from the disease are constantly on the move during their waking hours, Lyons said. They often shuffle continually across the floor, sit and rock in chairs or perform mundane tasks.

The new wing at Caledonia Manor will serve the specific needs of those patients, Lyons said.

"Separating Alzheimer's patients is a growing trend in skilled nursing care," he said.

The rate of decline varies among Alzheimer's patients, but on average sufferers live eight to 10 years, Lyons said. In its final stages, the disease interferes with every aspect of life, including eating and breathing.

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Special care units like the one opening in a renovated wing at Caledonia Manor create a homelike setting and lifestyle that allow patients to live out their lives in dignity, Lyons said.

The new wing has features unlike any found in familiar nursing homes settings, he said.

It gets its home-like feel with special color schemes, a kitchen, dining and living rooms, a courtyard and a "front porch."

"Meals are cooked and served in the kitchen and they are served out of bowls like at a family dinner," Lyons said.

He said before special care wings came into use, Alzheimer's patients were often locked off in separate units.

"Alzheimer's patients are constantly on the move so they need something to keep their attention," Lyons said. "That's why we have different settings and familiar surroundings. We try to create an environment that makes them feel more comfortable."

The 12 new employees who will staff the unit have been specially trained to understand what living with Alzheimer's is like. They will also develop personal relationships with the patients, Lyons said.

"Patients with Alzheimer's have a tendency to be more disruptive in mainstream nursing homes. They begin to mellow, feel more comfortable and tend to bond better with one another in special care units," Lyons said.

Katrina Swan, Caledonia Manor spokeswoman, said Alzheimer's disease affects patients in seven stages, beginning with mild symptoms. She said the care unit will treat patients through stages four, five and six.

In the final stage, patients no longer recognize loved ones. Hospice care is often brought in at that time, she said.

Caledonia Manor is owned by Beverly, a chain of more than 560 nursing homes.

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