Where to find care
There are a variety of in-home nursing care and institutional options open to the families of those stricken with Alzheimer’s.
One place those in need of Alzheimer’s care can turn to is New Mornings, a personalized senior referral/placement service operated by Joan Stevenson and Kittye Wallies of La Jolla.
“One of the things that goes on with families when someone gets Alzheimer’s,” said Stevenson, “is there is a lot of fighting among the different siblings. One wants to do things one way, and another wants to do something else. The children fight about what’s best: Leave them in the home, or get help?”
In such instances, an arbiter, like New Mornings, may be needed to help shepherd the family through trying times, helping them figure out how best to help their loved one with Alzheimer’s, given the families’ situation and the medical-care budget they have to work with.
New mornings is a personalized referral/placement service that explores living options with seniors and their families. Possible referral options include: independent retirement communities, assisted living communities, dementia/Alzheimer’s care and board and care.
One institutional option available for Alzheimer’s care in La Jolla is Sunrise Senior Living of La Jolla at 810 Turquoise St., which has cared for up to 27 individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s in a special wing of the facility since it opened five years ago.
Stepping into the Sunrise care facility, one wouldn’t suspect they’re not inside someone’s really nice home. On a typical weekday recently, for example, a number of residents gathered in one room of Sunrise were being entertained by a band playing New Orleans-style music.
Eva Perrine, executive director of Sunrise in La Jolla, noted many Alzheimer’s patients require skilled nursing care because they suffer from other afflictions as well that require special, skilled medical treatment. “They need custodial care,” pointed out Perrine, “which doesn’t have to happen in a skilled nursing facility. They have so many options.”
Sunrise has a unique, humanistic approach to treating those suffering from the disease. The approach they take is meant to preserve the dignity of the individual patient. “Just because they have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean they are to be shut away and forgotten,” said Perrine. “We have a reminiscence neighborhood that’s secure. It’s not locked. If you push on the door an alarm goes off. If it’s pushed for a long enough time - it will open.”
Perrine said caregivers have a healthy respect for the fact that Alzheimer’s patients are living in “the moment.”
“We recently took them on a beach party,” noted Perrine, “and when we loaded up the bus to come home we asked, ‘How did you like the day at the beach?’ And they’d say, ‘We didn’t go to the beach.’ In that moment, we are enjoying who they are and what they are. They’re enjoying that moment. But in the next moment, they may forget. But we still do all these activities, like group exercise and yoga, because it’s just what we do in the moment that we appreciate. They’re there in the moment.”
Many people are unaware of all the Alzheimer’s treatment options available to them. If you’re a military veteran, for example, you may qualify for financial support for Alzheimer’s care.
Melissa Green, coordinator with Healthcare Group, a San Diego corporation that manages retirement communities, skilled nursing and dementia care facilities throughout Southern California, said military applicants must meet these four criteria to be eligible to get federal funding for Alzheimer’s care:
- They must have had at least 90 days of active duty.
- They must have at least one day of active service during a period of war.
- The medical necessity or disability application for financial assistance does not have to be military service-related.
- They have to have a qualifying person with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, which automatically qualifies them.
Green said a formula for qualified applicants, which compares their total monthly income to their total monthly medical expenses, is used to determine the amount of allowable Alzheimer’s/dementia healthcare veterans benefits.
“If medical expenses exceed monthly income by 5 percent or more,” Green said, “they can be eligible for maximum benefits. For instance, if they need to be placed in an Alzheimer’s care facility, that entire cost may be paid, which is a considerable medical expense. It’s actually pretty easy for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s to qualify.”
The best thing for families to do whose elders may be high-risk for Alzheimer’s/dementia is to have a preconceived plan spelling out what to do in the event a loved one develops the affliction.
“People need to sit down with a referral service or someone else who’s knowledgeable and decide, far in advance, who’s going to take care of the health issues for mom or day,” said Stevenson of New Mornings. “It might be best to have one person appointed to be in charge. The two best things are to discuss it, and have a plan. Time and time again, weve seen actual fighting in families.”
The focus, added Stevenson, should always be on what is best for the Alzheimer’s sufferer. “When someone gets Alzheimer’s,” said Stevenson, “don’t worry so much about offending them. Get them the help they need.”
An all-too-frequent mistake families of Alzheimer’s patients make is deciding, out of a sense of obligation or guilt, to assume the entire burden of caring for the sick relation. Said Stevenson: “They can get exhausted. They can lose their health in trying to do everything.”
For more information about Sunrise Senior Living of La Jolla, call (858) 488-4300 or visit
- Contact New Mornings at 858-699-6776 or visit
linksfor families and friends affected by Alzheimer’s disease. A comprehensive list for telling the symptoms to how to share the news with children and teenagers. The Alzheimer’s Association also provides a health care provider finder. Click