By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Jerry Paul Tinsley and his fiancée Melissa Ryan opened an Alzheimer’s unit at Oak Landing Assisted Living Facility in Attalla in November – although it was not something Tinsley had planned.
“I had been asked by several people in Montgomery to start an Alzheimer’s program,” he said. Tinsley wasn’t anxious to do so. “I told them I’d take it home with me,” he said, meaning his concern for the patients and their families.
“They told me that’s why I was the kind of person who needed to do it,” Tinsley continued.
Tinsley and the staff took on the more challenging task of renovating for the secure unit – to prevent patients roaming – and meeting state certification requirements.
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“We have enough staffing to have 16 Alzheimer’s patients,” Tinsley said. However, the facility only has six patients now, and will have a maximum of 11 patients after a planned expansion in the coming months.
“That overstaffing means we can provide better care,” Tinsley explained.
“The state requires one activity each day. We have three activities a day,” Tinsley said.
Tinsley and Ryan took care with décor in the new unit, as they have throughout the facility.
“We want it to be a comfortable place. You won’t see anything that looks clinical here. It looks like a home,” he said.
The Alzheimer’s wing has its own sitting areas, courtyard and activities and dining room.
Oak Landings continues to provide a assisted-living housing for seniors with the same attention to comfort and care that it provides for the Alzheimer’s patients.
“All the residents here are like my grandmas and grandpas,” Tinsley said. That feeling of family makes Tinsley especially aware of the difficulties an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can mean for families, both in terms of providing care and in dealing with the emotional toll the condition brings.
“We feel priviledged to be able to help families at this time in their loved ones lives,” Tinsley said.