Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leesburg facility keeps Alzheimer's victim, spouse under same roof

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Orlando Sentinal

LEESBURG - Henri Couture believes a husband and wife should never have to live separately because one of them comes down with Alzheimer's disease, so he has opened a community for people with the degenerative brain disease.

At the 22-villa Hammock's Promise Community, an Alzheimer patient and the non-afflicted family member can live together with 24-hour on-site assistance. The villas have two bedrooms with conveniences such as a washer, dryer and garage.

This is different from typical facilities for Alzheimer's patients, which don't generally allow a loved one to live with the patient, Couture said.

"Separation causes unnecessary stress on married couples," he said. "I can't change the disease. I can't change the slow degeneration of the disease, but I can do my darndest not to remove them from your life."

Through Couture's setup, the non-afflicted family member can live with the afflicted one, and at the same time go out in the day to play golf, attend social groups, etc., while knowing their loved one is safe.

Well-minded family members "can have their life and not have guilt," said Kathy Haviland, executive director of Hammock's Promise.

Couture, 63, opened his first senior assisted-living facility in 1985 and has attended to the special needs of seniors such as those with Alzheimer's ever since. He and his wife, Ann Marie, currently operate Hammock's Promise and The Wedgewood Community in Leesburg, a senior independent-living community.

Couture said it can be hard for Alzheimer's patients to be separated from loved ones in a locked facility, but because the disease can cause these patients to wander off and/or get lost it's usually necessary they be in a secured facility away from family members.

He said forcing an Alzheimer's patient to live apart from their close family member or significant other can even worsen the effects of Alzheimer's because it causes the patient added stress.

"When you remove their loved one, they feel uncomfortable in that environment," he said. "You've removed that security blanket."

He touts Hammock's Promise as the solution.

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