VALDOSTA -- Valdosta's newest residential facility for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia is open for business.

Known by staffers and residents as The Palms, the facility completes the third phase of Langdale Place, a senior living community for adults age 62 and older that has been in operation for more than a decade.

"Everything's been going great," said Jan Brice, executive director of Langdale Place, referring to the days following the Nov. 1 opening. "Everything about this facility -- from the transformation to the community's response -- has exceeded my expectations."

Indoor renovations include the construction of a nurse's station, activity and dining room and lounge area. On the exterior, an enclosed courtyard area was constructed as well as a porch.

Already, 13 of the facility's 14 units, which are located on the first floor of the community's pre-existing assisted living area, are occupied.

The recent addition, Brice said, provides her staff an opportunity to improve the quality of life for each person wherever he or she might be in the aging process.

"Most elderly individuals experience some levels of dementia," she added. "By adding this level of care at Langdale Place, we will be able to continue to care for residents who have developed the need for more highly supervised care. We will be able to keep them in familiar surroundings, with familiar staff people, which should certainly benefit the residents."

In the past, residents of Langdale Place who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other dementia were forced to leave the senior living community and enter a nursing home or skilled care center. The same is true for those in the general community.

Additional staff were also hired specifically for the facility. Brice said three personal care attendants, providing for two on the floor during each of the three shifts, and a full-time activities director were brought in.

The area is under 24-hour supervision. However, residents are not under lock and key. Brice said they are free to come and go as they please with family members.

"We have this place set up so they cannot get lost in the building or wander down the streets," she said.

During the spring, the staff at Langdale Place, a subsidiary of South Georgia Medical Center, received word that the South Georgia Health Alliance Board had approved the conversion and renovation project.

Richard Hill and Associates and RST Construction were chosen to facilitate the $150,000 project. Moore Designs took care of the interior design.

Alzheimer's is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder with no known cause or cure. It attacks slowly and steals the minds of its victims. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, personality changes, disorientation and loss of language skills.

Prior to the latest addition, Langdale Place, which sits among six wooded acres, offered two styles of living -- independent-living apartments and personal care suites.

Services offered by the 24-hour staff vary according to the needs of each resident and range from complete independence to assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming and other personal needs.

Three meals a day are always provided, and a variety of events are planned each quarter plus residents are invited to attend a number of community events, Bible study classes, and life enrichment programs.

Day trips, dinner nights at local restaurants, concerts, plays, fishing trips, socials, parties, Bridge, Bingo, ceramics, cooking classes, and exercise sessions are the norm, and transportation is always provided.

Brice said those residing in the new Alzheimer's facility can expect the same services plus many more.

For information, please call 247-4300.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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