A beautiful old southern home, sitting on the banks of cypress covered waters. Dining room tables covered in white linen. Residents walking around the grounds of their new home. The Notebook, written by Nicholas Sparks, paints a beautiful story about young love and its progression into old love. While the storyline revolves around this, the depth of the movie sinks much deeper, to the autonomy of a person suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s has taken over the lives of an estimated 5.5 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. When caring for a person living with the disease, it is easy to forget that they are just that, a person. A son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister. A point in time of their life still remains. It is just lost in the entanglement of paths that venture all throughout the brain. “When we think of dementia, we need to think about what remains,” Vicky Noland Fitch said.
Vicky Noland Fitch is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and Social Worker. She was born in raised in Carrollton Alabama, just a few miles from the nursing home. “Vicky is a wonderful teacher and has a huge heart and passion for educating others and assisting facilities to care for residents with dementia,” RN, LNHA and Administrator Ashley McGee said. “She has been instrumental in the success and care of our residents on the unit.” Fitch was also the brains behind the unique details of the Memory Care Unit at Aliceville Manor Nursing Home.
Aliceville Manor is located up the road from a small town in Pickens County, Alabama. While it may not paint the same picture Nicholas Sparks does of love’s growth, the Memory Care Unit paints a realistically beautiful picture of dementia care. In November 2015, AMNH welcomed the “Countryside Garden” Memory Care Unit to the facility. They are one of the only homes to offer care dedicated specifically to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the county. Murals are painted on the walls of the unit to evoke familiarity with the individual's memories.
“The walls of the Memory Care Unit are full of scenes from life. A clothesline, an old country store, a hay field. These murals help in a multitude of ways. They facilitate reminiscing. They engage residents who wander back and forth down the hallways. Also, each doorway is a different color. For residents who no longer recognize a number, we can say, ‘you live in the yellow house’. In that way, it helps maintain their dignity and independence. Everything on the unit is designed with a purpose,” Fitch said.
Aliceville Manor acknowledges that “we know the disease and take care of the disease but we also take care of the individual” said Fitch. The secure unit allows these individuals to live a life without fear of danger or loss of self-help.“It is really a unit of yes. They are able to wander down the halls all day long,” she said.
Specially trained caregivers are on the floor twenty-four hours a day. The residents are provided with recreational activities set to a continuous schedule. According to The Alzheimer’s Association, 18.2 billion are the estimated hours caregivers spend helping those affected by the disease. Of these 18.2 billion are the handful working the Memory Care Unit at AMNH.
“The Memory Care unit at Aliceville Manor was designed to meet the needs of our residents with some form of dementia in the middle stages of the disease process. From the murals on the walls that evoke a pleasant, welcoming environment to the specifically developed activity program, Countryside Garden is a unit where residents with memory loss are supported so that they function at their highest level.” Fitch said. “We know that although much is lost to dementia, there is much that remains. Our goal is to maximize the strengths of each resident to ensure that they are living their best life.”
Aliceville Manor welcomes the public to attend the Memory Care Support Group. Led by Vicky Noland Fitch, the group meets the third Thursday of every month. It is both educational and helpful for those who have a loved one who suffers from the disease. For more information please contact the front office at (205) 373-6307 or visit www.alicevillemanornursinghome.com to request more information. Aliceville Manor is located at 703 17th St NW, Aliceville Alabama.