Yorkland Center helps Alzheimers patients enjoy life

 Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett
Yorkland Place resident Anna Mae Merz enjoys singing old songs with "Banjo Dave" Howard at the first picnic for Alzheimer’s patients and their families on June 22 at Blacklick Metro Park.  Mrs. Merz knew every word of every song.

Natalie Hiles, of Yorkland Park Care Center believes "Just because one has Alzheimer’s, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy themselves."  

She works with residents affected by the disease every day, and keeps them stimulated with activities and pet therapy.   The unit is called Sherry’s Place in memory of Sherry Lowe,  a nurse who once worked there who had a special love for Alzheimer’s patients.

Hiles and fellow staff members have taken their charges to hockey games, the state fair, and Columbus Zoo, to name a few.  

On June 22 they  had their first picnic for Alzheimer’s patients and their families at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, which is being planned as an annual event.  Thirty-six of 38 clients were able to attend, and it was obvious they were having a wonderful time.

They chatted with one another, bopped to live music, ate plenty of hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings.  Desserts and watermelon were huge hits with this crowd.

Life Ambulance provided the transports between the park and Yorkland, Odyssey Hospice provided meats, and the dietary staff from Yorkland prepared everything else.

Also attending was Sammy, a beagle/Lab mix adopted by Hiles from her veterinarian a little over a year ago.  Sammy is about 4 years old, had been adopted a few times, but was always returned.  He has epilepsy, and maybe that makes him understand special needs.  

He adores going to work with Hiles every day, and the residents adore him.

Banjo player Dave Howard entertained the group with old-time, familiar songs.  Anna Mae Merz, 87,  joined the singer for a few songs, and knew every word.  Her family, consisting of daughter Carol Ann Merz, former daughter-in-law Janet Merz, grandson Mike Merz, and husband of 67 years, Leroy, spent an enjoyable evening.  

Carol Ann Merz said that her mom has been at Yorkland since November, and has been an Alzheimer’s patient for five years.  Her care became too difficult for her 89-year-old husband, and she is doing well at the center.  

Anna Mae’s parents immigrated here from Germany, and they all settled in German Village.  She readily will share every one of her family’s names in German.   Before the disease, she enjoyed going to the ballet, theater, and eating at Max and Erma’s in German Village.

The daughter of another patient shared that her mother is doing much better since she moved into Yorkland four years ago.  She recalled waking up with two police officers standing over her bed with her mom by their side.  Her mother called them telling them that the daughter’s boyfriend was beating her.  There was no boyfriend in the house.  

Another time she was found at the corner of James Road and Main Street in her nightgown, barefooted with a ball bat.  She has verbal skills with one word sentences, but most times she is hard to understand.  If she becomes agitated, it’s best to walk away from her for a few minutes, and then return.  Upon return, she totally forgets that she was just saw the person or was mad.  

One daughter brings a little wrapped gift to her each time she visits.  It is the same gift each time, because she can’t remember it from time to time, but entering the room with the gift makes her happy.

Yorkland, located at 1425 Yorkland Road, has operated for 37 years, and is owned by Provider Services.  Twenty private skilled beds will be added in October.  

Hiles said, "We have an awesome team, with a supportive nursing staff and administrators."  

Alzheimer’s can strike a person as early as in their 50s. It’s not just a malady for the senior population.  

The following are ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:

•Memory loss that affects job skills.

•Difficulty performing familiar tasks.

•Problems with language.

•Disorientation to time and place.

•Poor or decreased judgment.

•Problems with abstract thinking.

•Misplacing things.

•Changes in mood and behavior.

•Changes in personality.

•Loss of initiative.

For further information, call Yorkland at 751-2525 or log on to www.provider-services.net.

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