Another option for Alzheimer's care is coming to Lawrence.
Ray Brown & Associates of Kearney, Neb., plans to build a special care facility, called Memory Care, for people who have dementia and Alzheimer's disease but don't need nursing home care.
"It's just a real natural, comfortable environment," said Lisa Neilsen, CEO of operations and development.
She said it can be difficult and scary for families to care for loved ones who have dementia, especially when they begin to wander.
"So to have that safe environment and an environment where family can come in and feel comfortable in, it's been wonderful for people, really," Neilsen said.
Ray Brown & Associates plans to break ground on a $2 million, 10,000-square-foot building in May at 1216 Biltmore Drive, just a couple of blocks northwest of the intersection of Wakarusa and Legends drives. The building will have 14 units and will be licensed as an assisted living facility. It will be staffed 24 hours a day with nurses and medication aides.
The company would like to have the facility open by December 2009. All residents would have their own private room and bathroom. They would share a living room, kitchen and dining area.
Neilsen said the company plans to construct another 14-unit building on the 1.8 acres of undeveloped property that it purchased from Free State Development LLC, but will take a wait-and-see approach depending on how business goes with the first one.
Ray Brown & Associates has been around since the 1960s and has built nursing homes across the country, Neilsen said. During the past few years, it began designing and building the Memory Care facilities.
"It's a great niche. We've had a lot of success," she said.
With only three other options for Alzheimer's care in Lawrence, they hope to do well.
"We just have looked around in a tri-state area and determined there was a need there," Neilsen said. "We are excited about the community. We really like the community."
Fulfilling a need
Donna Bell, public relations director of Brandon Woods at Alvamar, said a need exists for such care. Brandon Woods is the only Lawrence facility that is licensed to provide highly skilled nursing care for those with dementia.
"We are able to deal with the other medical needs that may be present in addition to the Alzheimer's," she said.
Brandon Woods' Alzheimer's unit, called The Arbor, can accommodate up to 40 residents and generally is about 95 percent full.
The other two facilities in Lawrence, which typically operate at or near capacity:
¢ The Windsor of Lawrence, 3220 Peterson Road. Molly Nelson, health care coordinator, said the 14-year-old assisted living facility has room for 42 residents and about 75 percent of them have some form of dementia.
¢ Harbor House, 1126 Hilltop Drive. It is a home for up to eight people who have dementia or Alzheimer's. It provides 24-hour nursing care.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, someone develops the disease every 71 seconds. In Kansas, 50,000 people had Alzheimer's in 2000; that number is expected to climb 6 percent by 2010.
April Maddox, case management program manager with Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, cited a growing need to provide secure housing for those with dementia in the counties the agency serves: Douglas, Shawnee and Jefferson. She said a majority of the agency's 950 clients have some form of dementia.
"With the clients we serve, there is usually a need for a protected or a secure living arrangement for them," she said. "A lot of times that allows the caregiver to be free of worry about the well-being of their loved ones."