Alzheimer's patients are 'special' to caregiver

Alzheimer's Association
Janie Harper

Long-term care is no stranger to Janie Harper. Harper is Executive Director of Redstone Park Retirement and Assisted Living in Brownwood. She also serves as volunteer facilitator of the Brownwood Alzheimer’s Association Support Group. Harper has been working with the Alzheimer’s Association since 2007.

“I grew up around all my great aunts, married my high school sweetheart and then got into the long term care business, working in nursing homes in multiple departments before becoming the regional ombudsman, or resident advocate, for 19 counties in the Abilene area,” Harper said.

For Harper, Alzheimer’s and dementias were something personal. “My mother had a form of dementia and I’ve been involved in long term care since 1993,” Harper said. “It seems like I’ve always been around people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, and they’re special to me.”

The Redstone facility in Brownwood is licensed for 70 beds. Many of their residents are living with Alzheimer’s. 

“It’s hard for families to accept that mom or dad has changed and won’t be back,” Harper said. “We get calls from kids about mom and dad not being able to keep up with stuff.  Brownwood is a small enough community that people feel comfortable calling us on the phone to talk.” 

Harper said when people get with other people going through similar Alzheimer’s situations, they don’t feel so alone. They share items and help with each other in the support groups.

“We tell them about the national Alzheimer’s website and give them information pamphlets from the Abilene office that supports our area,” Harper said. “We listen to people about what they are going through and what they need.”

Planning is key for families entering the Alzheimer’s path. “We want your loved one to stay safe, whether that’s having to relocate or bring someone into the home,” Harper said. “Start preparing for future with advance directives, power of attorney, finances and medical resuscitation. If the person has to leave their home it confuses them even more for a while, so you need to allow for an adjustment period.”

For Harper, the main thing is to find a cure. “It’s a terrible disease and it seems there are daily losses for those living with it,” Harper said. “I always wanted to be a director of an assisted living facility and I love what I do, but finding a cure is paramount to everything.”

The Brownwood Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver support group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month online. Contact Mindy Bannister, Education and Family Care Specialist with the Alzheimer's Association North Central Texas Chapter for more information, 325-672-2907 or mbannister@alz.org

Alzheimer's Facts

• 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia

• Approximately 400,000 Texans have Alzheimer's

• Texas ranks 4th in number of Alzheimer's cases and 2nd in Alzheimer's deaths

•Alzheimer's disease is the 5th leading cause of death in the US

• In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer's every 65 seconds