Central New York, Community, Health, Syracuse

A new approach to help Alzheimer’s patients

By Eshalaxmi Barlingay SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Among Dorothy Montgomery’s favorite photos is the one from Ireland where her husband, Jim, is dwarfed by an over-sized rock in Giant’s Causeway.

Not only have Jim’s parents been photographed at the exact same spot, but their children and grandchildren have also posed there, making it a family tradition.

“This is the best memory I have,” Dorothy said.

The photo now sits in Jim’s room in Peregrine Senior Living home in Onondaga Hills where he’s been a resident since March.

Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 15 years ago, and as Dorothy said her husband of 60 years has been showing signs of memory loss over time.

“He would leave the water tap open, the main door open (and) forget the way back home,” Dorothy said. “Thankfully we had cellphones that time. He would call me to ask his way home.”

While Jim’s circumstances  has made Dorothy the backbone in their marriage, she still needed help and found Peregrine to be the closest option within a couple miles of their home.

Peregrine’s president Stephen Bowman said patients such as Jim are given immense care and help – not just with the things they need, but also with the environment they are living in.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and this number is predicted to increase to 14 million in the next 30 years.

Bowman said the typical approaches with treatment of memory loss are using medication, playing computer games or solving trivia.

“We don’t think that’s reasonable,” he said. “We think that if you have dementia or Alzheimer’s, you are losing your short-term memory.”

And so, Bowman started his senior living home this year where he could provide an environment that works on saving their long-term memory. Peregrine’s home comprises of a home style interior featuring a modular kitchen, living room, TV room, ’50s-style diner, in-house garden, chapel and outdoor deck for its residents.

“That’s what’s going to give them comfort and joy,” Bowman said. “They are only going to get frustrated with reality therapy.”

And here, Dorothy is glad she could find Jim a comfortable place he can now call home.

“He is happy here. He sleeps all day, talks to his friends, he is also participating in entertainment; dancing,” Dorothy said. “He dances terrible.”


Jim and Dorothy Montgomery, Syracuse 1957

Jim Montgomery in front of the "Big Rock" in Giant's Causeway, Ireland