Let's take a step back in time. Imagine Mrs. Johnson climbing into a classic New York City yellow taxi in the middle of a new, 12,000-square-foot building at Belfair Gardens, an Alzheimer's and dementia care facility in Bluffton. To the right, Mrs. Golden is enjoying sundaes as Bing Crosby music plays in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor while Mrs. Billings shops in the 1940s department store.
Up front, Mr. Ryan is picking up newspapers, boxing gloves and stamps in the book nook, vintage sporting goods store and post office while Mr. Samuels stops by the barber shop for his weekly shave and haircut. Moments later, the group enjoys time together in the outdoor courtyard complete with putting greens, dog parks and shuffleboard courts.
Open to residents 24-hours a day, this "Town Square" represents Main Street America reminiscent of the early 1940s. It was developed to help bring back long-term memories by surrounding residents with familiar settings of yesteryear.
Age-related dementia can take a person far from the present. At Belfair Gardens, when residents drift away, they have a place to go. Employees step back to 1942 - the year Mrs. Johnson visited the Big Apple. To 1944 -- the year Mrs. Golden met her husband over root beer floats. Or back to 1946 -- the year Mrs. Billings bought her wedding dress, 1947 - the year Mr. Ryan started boxing and 1949 - the year Mr. Samuels received his first straight edge shave.
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Given the increasing demand for Alzheimer's and dementia care services in the Lowcountry, Bloomfield Senior Living, the owner of Belfair Gardens, opened a new, 25-unit Alzheimer's and dementia care addition Dec. 19. The Belfair Gardens program opened in January 2011 and it reached maximum capacity within three months. The initial design - like the new addition - also had a 1940s "Town Square" theme. The new addition is licensed to accommodate an additional 45 residents, making Belfair Gardens the largest Alzheimer's and dementia care program in South Carolina.
The new building will open this month to accommodate the growing Belfair Garden's wait list. Scott Kantor, Tony Kantor and Bradley Dubin, principals of Bloomfield Senior Living, recently said that there are more individuals on the wait list than there are residents.
"It breaks our heart not to be able to accommodate families who are looking for the best possible care for their loved one. We understand. We personally went through the process while looking for our own grandmother," the principals said.
Belfair Gardens incorporates low staff-to-resident ratios, sensory-based programming, personalized attention to achieve the highest possible resident-centered health care.
"Anyone who has visited Belfair Gardens understands that there is no program like it within South Carolina, or the United States for that matter," said Lara Williams, executive director of Belfair Gardens.
Belfair Gardens can accommodate residents with early, middle and late stages of Alzheimer's and dementia.