Autumn Leaves, an Alzheimer’s and Memory Care facility, will be adding its own bit of fall beauty to the Oswego area in the next few weeks.
The location at 900 Douglas Road has begun accepting reservations and plans to open in November, which is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
And Cathleen O’Brien, director of the Oswego Autumn Leaves, plans to be involved in the community and to help others understand what exactly Alzheimer’s is.
“I think a lot of people have a misconception when it comes to Alzheimer’s,” said O’Brien. “A lot of people don’t realize that it’s not a normal aging process. We have some residents as young as 48, and know of those in their 100’s that don’t have it. We keep seeing it younger and younger.”
Autumn Leaves will provide residence to 43 individuals with Alzheimer’s or other memory conditions. “We only do memory care here,” said O’Brien. “It’s not some program tucked away in the back, it’s all we’re here for.”
O’Brien said all of their staff, from the caregivers to construction workers, are all trained and that the building is designed around those with memory problems.
“We take a very individual approach to care,” said O’Brien. She said the goal is to let their residents be as independent as they can for as long as possible.
She said at one of their locations they have a gentleman who was having trouble transitioning. He was a businessman and would take his briefcase with him wherever he went.
“He needed to believe he could still work,” said O’Brien. So the staff set him up with an “office” of sorts in the activity room where he could make calls on behalf of other residents for when they needed things like blankets or water. “That’s how he gets through his day,” said O’Brien.
A lot of family dynamics come into play when choosing to place a relative in a care home like Autumn Leaves, said O’Brien. “One sibling may say everything is fine and there’s nothing wrong but there really is,” she said. “It’s hard to get everyone on one page… normally something big has to happen.”
O’Brien likens Oswego to a large family community and said she is looking forward to working with all of the residents. “Oswego is truly a community that wants to take care of each other and help each other.”
And Autumn Leaves wants to be a part of that community. O’Brien said the home is going to be doing a coat drive to help Mutual Ground out of Aurora and is already working with Southbury Elementary to raise money for next year’s memory walk.
They also have plans for a “virtual dementia experience,” slated for next February, where visitors can try on goggles and have their senses impaired to try to accomplish every day tasks. The idea is to see the difficulty behind seemingly simple things that patients with Alzheimer’s or other memory care problems may have.
Autumn Leaves plans to begin moving new residents in the week after Thanksgiving. For more information, or to inquire about residency, visit Autumn Leaves' website.