HILLIARD, OH – Each year, Alzheimer’s disease slowly steals memories away from the nearly 5.1 million Americans who live with the condition.
For the families and loved ones who feel the effects of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, finding a way to help them remember is a crucial part of providing them with care.
At National Church Residences Mill Run, a senior community located in the Columbus suburb of Hilliard, a plan was unveiled to residents at the annual Christmas celebration on Thursday, December 11, for a one-of-a-kind facility that will provide residents suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia a chance to re-experience happier times.
“The true beauty of everything we do involves life and death. It’s an evolution,” said Linda Roehrenbeck, Executive Director of Mill Run, at the announcement of the plans for Mill Run’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Memory Gardens. “This project will evolve. Just like our lives do.”
Scheduled to break ground in 2015, the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Memory Gardens at National Church Residences Mill Run will be constructed in multiple phases, eventually culminating in a beautiful outdoor area complete with a park, a garden, a therapy and art wall and a patio for dining and relaxing.
“This garden is grace. There will be moments of serendipity. It will be a way to bring back moments of their lives that were joyful,” said Roehrenbeck. “It has meaning and purpose.”
To design the Memory Gardens, Mill Run enlisted the services of Linda Wilson, a landscape architect with MKSK, who found special meaning in helping with the project.
Wilson’s husband Ron passed away a year ago at the age of 58 from complications due to early onset Alzheimer’s.
“I first came into contact with National Church Residences because I had my husband in their adult day services,” Wilson said. “(That facility) was (previously) an outdoor garden center that had a nice outdoor space. For me a major concern was the quality of life outside of the four walls.”
With the care her husband received in mind, Wilson began designing early plans for an Alzheimer’s memory garden but did not initially have a plan for its location. Mill Run became the ideal spot after Wilson was introduced to Roehrenbeck through a mutual friend who also had a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“Linda talked to me and asked, ‘What do I know about Alzheimer’s Memory Gardens?’” Wilson said. “We developed a plan for this facility and here we are.”
Wilson’s design for the phases of the Mill Run Alzheimer’s and Dementia Memory Gardens was on display for residents and their families to see during the Christmas celebration. Seeing so many people admire her work meant a great deal to Wilson.
“I teared up,” she said. “It was like, ‘Wow, it’s eventually going to come together.’”
Joining Wilson in the presentation of the Memory Gardens was Pete Trombetti, a commercial builders and one of the project’s initial major donors.
Trombetti’s wife, Maggie, had been a resident of Mill Run from June 2013 until her passing in July 2014.
“We were married for 20 years,” he said. “We traveled the world, the two of us.”
After Maggie’s passing, Trombetti kept in touch with Roehrenbeck at Mill Run.
“I came in to see Linda and she said something about creating a Memory Garden,” Trombetti said. “I said, ‘I’m in!’”
Trombetti said his late wife had a love for gardening and the outdoors in general and that his involvement in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Memory Gardens was on Maggie’s behalf.
“A few of you knew my wife,” he told the audience. “This is for her.”
Trombetti said he was grateful to the staff at Mill Run for the care they gave his wife during her final months.
“Definitely. People like this here,” he said, greeting a Mill Run nurse he knew with a hug. “These are the gems. That’s the reason.”
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Memory Garden at Mill Run will be constructed in phases as funding becomes available. To make charitable contributions to the project, please contact the National Church Residences Philanthropy team at (614) 273-3582 or Roehrenbeck at (614) 771-0100.
Volunteer opportunities in developing and maintaining the garden will also be available.
(Written by Lance Cranmer, Media/Public Relations Specialist at National Church Residences. Cranmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)