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Grand, yet homey: Edgewood gives assurance in quality of care

Edgewood Senior Living in Jamestown is now open with 29 assisted-living apartments and 39 memory care units at 1104 25th St. SW. Wet, humid weather during the summer delayed completion of the $8 million facility managed by Edgewood Group LLC, whi...

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Residents can enjoy a comfortable sitting area with a fireplace to share time with visiting family and friends. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Edgewood Senior Living in Jamestown is now open with 29 assisted-living apartments and 39 memory care units at 1104 25th St. SW.

Wet, humid weather during the summer delayed completion of the $8 million facility managed by Edgewood Group LLC, which opened Oct. 17, said Annie Elhard, marketing manager. A public grand opening will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.

“We’re big enough to be grand, but we’re small enough to be homey,” said Tonya Perkins, executive director.

There are 30 full-time staff members to support the seven assisted-living residents and four memory unit residents that have moved in so far. It should take a year to reach capacity, and that could push staff levels to around 50, Elhard said.

“Things will grow as we grow,” Elhard said.

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The assisted-living private apartments are for anyone over age 55. The units include kitchenettes without stoves. The level of housekeeping and nursing depends on the rental package.

Shar Elhard is the clinical services director and supervises a 24-hour nursing staff for residents.

The facility has a clinic room, theater, chapel, salon, library, fitness room, courtyards and walking paths. A “pub” allows a setting to watch sports on television or hold a karaoke night.

The restaurant-style dining offers three full meals and snacks per day.

“We work really hard on presenting beautiful plates with garnishes, seasoning, dessert and appetizers and starter servings every meal,” Perkins said. “One of the first things we hear is ‘This isn’t nursing home food is it?’”

The memory care apartments have full-time care with attention to diet and hydration to help prevent the rapid deterioration of the body that often occurs from living alone, Perkins said. To qualify for memory care a person must be over 55 years old and have a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Kaylee Lang is the life enrichment director for dementia patients. She individualizes activities for people who suffer from progressive loss of memory and cognitive skills, Perkins said.

“Our life enrichment director is a master level occupational therapist and she creates activities that are fun and engaging but also therapeutic,” Perkins said. “The activities are small and personalized.”

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The unit does not employ reality orientation therapy, where someone with dementia is corrected for believing he or she might be in another time or place, Perkins said. The trend today is to leave the person wherever he or she is at, she said, which reduces chances of an argument.

“If the person says it is 1945, then it is 1945,” Perkins said. “If they say it is time to go to church then the staff figures out how to make that happen. We’re working really hard not to correct them.”

If someone with dementia is looking for a spouse who died years ago it could cause him or her to live that pain again and again, she said. So the staff will just reply that the spouse or other loved one is due home soon, she said.

“It is a comforting thought that allows them some peace,” Perkins said.

The 18-foot-wide hallways of the memory unit have life skill stations that are essentially mini environments to trigger positive memories, she said. Some of the stations include a workshop, porch, boat, kitchen table, schoolhouse desks and a rural mailbox. A “ladies station” is an old dresser with makeup, perfumes and hats.

“It is not just here to look at,” Perkins said. “The residents can interact with it.”

As dementia progresses the person goes backward in his or her mind, Perkins said. Families of the memory unit residents provide the tenant’s life history such as hobbies and occupations to assist the staff in keeping the mind engaged.

“We want to know what they like and what makes them comfortable,” she said.

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Every door of the memory unit has a shadow box for items and photos of loved ones. Dementia residents might not recognize themselves in the mirror but do recognize themselves in old photos when they were younger, so it helps to keep these items visible to jar those memories, she said.

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