By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Victorville)– Alzheimer’s is something that many don’t want to think about, but with a series of articles we hope to shine some light on the subject as to what it does, the severity of it and what type of help is available right here in the community. For the second article, we visited a facility that cares for Alzheimer’s dementia patients as well as others with various needs: Foremost Health Care in Hesperia.
Founded in 1998 and opened in 1999, Foremost measures at 18 acres total and used to be a famous getaway many years before it became what it is today. The facility is nestled in Hesperia on Sultana Street, with a look and feel that literally grabs your attention. The design of Foremost has an almost park-like setting, very serene and very soothing as it sits on the ridge overlooking the Hesperia Golf Course. The property includes 76 apartments for independent living in a secure environment, which includes paid utilities, housekeeping, and meals for an extra fee from the Foremost in service kitchen. “It’s a community within a community, our neighbors out there are really close knit, and they go and check on each other,” said Elizabeth H. Colón, Administrator at Foremost Health Care in regards to the independent living apartments.
The main part of the facility consists of the assisted living quarters, which are divided into five wings with different levels of care. Assisted living patients, who need the full time care and supervision, are monitored 24 hours a day with rooms being checked every 15 minutes to ensure the patients safety. “We are a delayed Egress building, we are licensed to have delayed Egress, so all of our wings where residents reside is a key pad entry in and out,” Colón stated about the assisted living facility and it’s wings. “All of the wings are set up identical, rooms are the same, dining rooms are the same,” which is done to create familiarity in case a patient in transferred from one wing to another.
Colón spoke to High Desert Daily about not only the facility, but also the incredibly hard situation a family is put in to when a facility like Foremost becomes a viable option, “it’s not an easy decision, and we don’t take it lightly. It’s a hard decision to make to place somebody because there is guilt involved, there are financial responsibilities, there are a lot of dynamics involved.”
When hearing about Foremost, some may confuse it with a nursing home, which Colón touched on, “We’re not licensed as a skilled nursing facility, so we are kind of that grey area since we fulfill a need but are not a nursing home, so often that makes it a little more palpable for people. What we tell families is that you’re still providing for their needs, you’re just not the day to day care person; let us take on that responsibility being the caretaker.”
In providing the care for those in the assisted living quarters, it is much more than a job, as the Foremost staff reaches out on a personal level, “having a really personal relationship with them and winning their trust most of all, we have to prove ourselves to them daily that we are doing the job that they have paid us to do. Keeping them comfortable is key, we thoroughly believe in making them comfortable. We are looking to maintain what their quality of life might be.” The attachment to the patients in their care is evident as Colón continued, “they are like our extended family, so sometimes we are grieving along with the family because we are losing them too.”
Foremost also gets a hand from a four-legged friend in the form of Buttons: “We have a dog here, the illustrious Buttons. He’s a poodle, and I don’t know how he ended up here, it was miraculous. He is really good with our residents with dementia because it’s unconditional love. He sits on their lap, he is very patient, very tolerant. If they’re agitated, we put a blanket on their lap and put the dog there, and they are petting on the dog, loving the dog, they don’t need medications to calm them down, the dog diffuses that.” Buttons is at the facility numerous days of the week, as he goes home with the Activity Coordinator each night.
In addition to the services and safe environment they offer, Foremost has also given to Alzheimer’s research, “We raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association at the end of October. We did our first annual Alzheimer Walk and that was really exciting. We had family members participating, staff, members of the community.” Colón stated that Foremost raised around $3,500 for the Alzheimer’s Association with their walk, and hopes to do so every year as an annual tradition.
The rise of clients with dementia that can utilize Foremost’s facility has been growing due to the baby boomer generation now hitting the 65-year age frame. “Now, with the baby boomers coming into this mix, we are seeing a tremendous influx of people coming in. Now, they are being diagnosed earlier because of better technology to find things going on so we see people being diagnosed much earlier, therefore their lifespan has increased.”
For more information on Foremost Health Care, feel free to call their offices at (760) 244-5579.