Alzheimer's clinic opens in Pa.

March 29, 2001|By STACEY DANZUSO, Chambersburg

Alzheimer's clinic opens in Pa.

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - More than 4 million people in the country have been diagnosed with dementia, and that number is expected to balloon to 14 million in the next half-century.

To deal with Franklin County's 3,000 Alzheimer's patients, Beverly Health Systems opened a renovated 20-bed wing at Caledonia Manor in Fayetteville Thursday. The wing is solely for people with the disease.

"Currently, 37 million people know someone with dementia," said Bob Rosenberger, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association of South Central Pennsylvania. "It will touch all of our lives in the future."

Armed with statistics on the current and future costs associated with the disease, Rosenberger addressed area health care workers Thursday in the living room of the new facility.


The wing is designed to make patients feel safe, said Brent Ballard, director of Strategic Development for Beverly.

"It is a social model. It doesn't look like the typical nursing home," he said.

Two- and four-person rooms line the outer edge of the square unit. The center of the wing includes a living room with several rocking recliners with a floral pattern and soft colors. A mock porch, complete with shuttered windows and two more recliners, is designed to make the patients feel like they are at home.

"Alzheimer's patients have a need for perpetual motion. With glider rockers, they won't wander and get tired or fall down," Ballard said.

Beverly opened 24 similar units last year and has plans for 44 more nationwide this year, Ballard said.

Caledonia Manor was selected because of the apparent need in Franklin County.

"We looked at the demographics of the community and felt there was a demand," Ballard said. This was echoed by community leaders, pastors and hospital case workers they spoke with, he said.

Rosenberger also cited the need for specialized units, to alleviate the pressure on the "sandwich generation."

That means families, including his own, caught in the dilemma of caring for their children as well as their parents.

"Seven out of 10 Alzheimer's patients are not in nursing homes," he said. "That means the biggest burden is on the families and friends."

State Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Shippensburg, participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening and voiced his praise for the efforts to support Franklin County's aging population.

"I am glad people will be able to get this care in this community," he said.

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