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Forest Grovers walk for dementia

The streets of Forest Grove saw the first local Alzheimer's walk last month during National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. The Gardens Enhanced Dementia Care hosted the walk, which was modeled after the Alzheimer's Association's annual Memory Walk held in Portland in October.

The Gardens decorated their bus and drove up Pacific Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Most resident participants rode in the bus, while another 19 locals walked.

'We wanted to do it in our community because we have so many resources here,' said Jayne Allen, marketing director for the Gardens.

The Gardens, which has been located in Forest Grove for six years, specializes in dementia care by providing a homey environment for those with dementia, such as Alzheimer's Disease.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 'Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain.

'Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 50 to 70 percent of cases.'

People with Alzheimer's get their day and night mixed up, and they sometimes wander or get violent, said Allen. That's why a residence like The Gardens can be a good option.

The Gardens has four communities of dementia residents with 14 people in each neighborhood. Two caregivers are on duty at all times. Their job is to bathe and change the residents, as well as lead activities to keep them active.

The men can participate in building birdhouses or other activities. The ladies have a chapter of the Red Hat Society. There are also activities for each neighborhood that are catered to the needs of that neighborhood. Residents can participate in Bible study, take van rides to the country, play cards or enjoy a movie with popcorn.

'Activities keep people as cognitive as possible,' said Allen.

Some of the residents also enjoy folding clothes or setting the table.

The Gardens uses the Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's care which focuses on a person-centered model, teaches caregivers how to identify an individual's strengths and weaknesses and discusses the importance of a person's life story.

The individuals living at The Gardens all have interesting stories, said Allen. The common idea, 'If you don't use it, you lose it,' is a misconception. There are former accountants and forestry workers, said Allen. 'They were using their brain and they still lost it, so that isn't always the case.'

The Gardens has residents in all different stages of Alzheimer's. 'It affects everyone differently,' said Allen. 'Some get worse faster. Others have it longer.'

Despite research, scientists have still not been able to determine exactly what causes Alzheimer's and what can cure it.