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What is Dementia?

Many of us either have a loved one who has suffered from dementia or we know someone who does. The diagnosis of dementia is an incredibly difficult one to receive for all members of the family. While there is still a lot about dementia that the medical community hasn’t been able to fully explain, research is being done every day to better understand the causes of dementia and find ways to treat it.

What is dementia?

While the term is used often, dementia isn’t a specific disease itself. It’s an umbrella term used to describe a host of cognitive impairment symptoms. Dementia occurs when there is damage to the cells in the brain, impairing the communication from cell to cell. It usually is the result of brain disease, stroke, or injury, although it can be caused by other factors like brain tumors or drug misuse. The impact of this damage leads to memory loss, difficulty carrying out day to day tasks, personality disruptions, and other symptoms.

Types of dementia

There are several forms of dementia, but a few of the most common are described below.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain, and perhaps the most well known form of dementia. It’s important to note that while Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, not all dementia sufferers have Alzheimer’s. With that said, Alzheimer’s does make up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, making it the most common form by far. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, and treatments to slow or halt the progression of the disease are yet to be successful.

Vascular Dementia is the second most common form of dementia, making up around 10 percent of cases. Vascular dementia occurs when there is a lack of blood flow in the brain, like after a stroke, and brain cells are damaged or killed.

Parkinson’s Disease can also include dementia—upwards of 50 to 80 percent of Parkinson's patients are estimated to be affected. Parkinson’s-related dementia differs from Alzheimer’s in that it usually takes years to develop symptoms after first being diagnosed. Parkinson's disease starts in the area of the brain that affects motor movement, but can and often does move to parts of the brain that cause memory loss.

Lewy Body Dementia occurs when there are deposits in the brain called Lewy bodies. These deposits are also thought to be the cause of memory loss in Parkinson’s patients The two diseases are now thought to be linked, but more research is being performed to confirm this idea.

To learn more about all the types of dementia, read more from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Early symptoms

Catching and diagnosing dementia early can help keep your loved ones out of potentially dangerous situations, so it’s important to keep an eye on their health. Also, the progression of some forms of dementia can also be slowed with early intervention.

If you notice personality changes in your loved ones, if they start having difficulty keeping up with their schedule, or begin to have trouble caring for themselves in the ways they have before, it’s never a bad idea to talk with a doctor. Sometimes symptoms of other medical issues, like medication side effects or vitamin deficiency, can masquerade as dementia as well.

However, not all memory loss is a symptom of a larger problem—some memory loss occurs with normal aging. For example, forgetting an appointment but then remembering about it later in the day is a normal lapse in memory. But if a loved one can’t remember any events and must rely on a family member or other methods to constantly remind them, it might be a sign of a larger problem.

For more details about early symptoms, read the full list from The Alzheimer’s Association.

Care at The Chateau

The Chateau offers excellent, compassionate, and personalized care for our residents with dementia. Our staff is skilled and experienced in caring for our residents with memory problems, and we have round-the-clock care, so you can rest easy knowing your loved one is in good hands.

For more information about care at The Chateau, contact our Admissions Coordinator at (573) 651-8144.

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Making the decision to move into Assisted Living isn’t always an easy one. Many people are concerned about losing their individuality and freedoms in exchange for more care or assistance. But that is not the case at The Chateau Terraces, our Assisted Living residences. Living at The Terraces is a flexible but safe option that allows you to live the life you want, but with help where you need it.

When is Assisted Living the Right Choice?

As a general rule of thumb, Assisted Living is meant for those who need some help carrying out daily living tasks, such as cooking, bathing, or taking medications, but don’t need round-the-clock care. Here are a few signs that Assisted Living could be helpful for you or a loved one:

  • At risk for a fall or recovering from a recent fall, or concerns over decreased mobility
  • Having trouble remembering to take the correct medications at the correct time
  • Difficulty with getting dressed in the morning—trouble with reaching, buttoning or unbuttoning, putting on shoes and socks, etc.
  • Diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that needs careful monitoring, like diabetes or COPD
  • Unable to regularly schedule or drive to doctor’s appointments on own
  • Trouble getting into and out of the bathtub or shower or difficulty maintaining proper hygiene
  • Difficulty planning and cooking healthy meals
  • Memory loss
  • Concerns over recovering from a recent hospitalization alone at home

Sometimes it can be hard to notice these changes in yourself since they can occur gradually over time, so it’s important to talk regularly with your doctor and your family about the status of your health.

Our Care

Our treatment philosophy at The Chateau is patient-centric and unique to you. Our highly trained staff will tailor a plan to suit your needs, providing assistance where you need it but still allowing for your individuality and independence.

Assisted Living residences are equipped with emergency call buttons in the bathroom, and emergency assistance is available at all times, so you can rest easy knowing help is close by if you should need it. Our property is also in close proximity to two local hospitals. 

The Terraces

Residents at The Chateau Terraces can choose between a studio or one-bedroom apartment. One-bedroom units come equipped with a kitchen facility, and both floor plans offer private bathrooms with walk-in showers, generously sized closets, and roomy living space. We encourage you to decorate your apartment in your own style—make it feel like home! Enjoy maintenance-free living and housekeeping services, as well as restaurant-style dining options or take-out if you’d rather enjoy your meals in the comfort of your apartment. And family members and friends are always welcome to come visit! 

Terraces residents can bring along a personal vehicle, but convenient in-house transportation services are also available for trips to the doctor, store, activities, or other appointments.

Live Your Own Life

Our Assisted Living residents enjoy access to all the amenities of The Chateau, from our exercise classes to our library to our beauty parlor. Residents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in all of our daily activities, clubs, and events. Meet new friends, socialize, and enjoy your life with peace of mind!

If you’re interested in learning more about our Assisted Living at The Chateau, give us a call at (573) 335-1281 and we’ll be happy to talk through your options!

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My typical day as a Life Enrichment Coordinator

I start off the day fixing up a pot of coffee for our early risers. Sometimes the residents enjoy having the news read to them over a cup of hot coffee and a doughnut. I head to a meeting with some of the other healthcare team members, then it’s time for another activity! From mental exercises to music entertainment to crafts, there’s honestly never a dull moment around here. You never know what you’ll get! Many of the residents like to tease me, because I’m (sometimes quite literally) running around the building either meeting new folks, delivering ice cream or snacks, or going door to door to invite each resident to the particular event that’s about to happen. I definitely get my fair share of steps in each day!

We take care of the activity needs from Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Rehab, all the way to Memory Care. Some our most popular activities include weekly bible study, manicures, facials, music entertainment, and laughter yoga. (And of course, anything to do with baking or food!) We recently began trying to implement more inter-generational activities. We’ve had children come to do vocal/piano recitals. We’ve also recently had monthly visits from the Prodigy Kids school. These children have done activities such as life story interviews, trivia, board games, and other things with our residents. We’ve talked about maybe doing a book program that could help the children with their reading. Additionally, we’ve made efforts to get out into the community more! Over Christmas, we enjoyed going out to see the Christmas lights. We’ve recently went to Andy’s Frozen Custard and the downtown area and spent an afternoon enjoying to the SEMO District Fair.

On a personal level, I’ve always felt a connection with this population. I recall nights staying up until midnight with my grandmother playing Monopoly and goofing around. I was always very close to my great-grandmother as a young child too. It seems only natural that this would be the job that I would love to show up to every day. I quite honestly feel like these people are my family, and I’d do anything for them! My favorite aspect of the job really revolves around knowing the residents on a deeper level, such as learning what they enjoy, learning about their life, who they married, funny stories about their past, or getting to know their family. I know no strangers here at The Chateau. To me, the most important thing about my job is being able to connect and engage with the resident on a personal level. When you really connect with people, everything else just seems to fall into place.

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Rehab Rundown

If you’ve experienced an injury or illness that affects your ability to carry out daily life, your doctor may decide that rehabilitation is the best course for getting you back to your normal routine. The Chateau is home to a state-of-the-art rehab facility and a skilled staff whose top goal is to help you regain and sustain an active, healthy, and happy lifestyle.

We offer a host of therapy services. Here is a breakdown of the different types of therapies we provide for seniors.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

The Chateau offers both inpatient and outpatient rehab for seniors—and you don’t have to be a resident to participate in rehab services! Whether you’re returning from a hospitalization and need rehab before heading home or if you need to come in to work through an issue with mobility, our team will support you through the process and help get you back to where you want to be.

Physical Therapy

If you have an injury or illness that causes your body to lose mobility or function, physical therapy can get you back on the mend. The need for physical therapy can come for a variety of reasons, including rehabbing after a surgery, recovering from a fall, or if you are having trouble with pain that impedes your mobility, among others. When you begin physical therapy, you’ll work with a Physical Therapist (PT) to establish a rehab plan to get you back where you want to be. Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA) also aid in the rehab process.

Physical therapy works towards goals like:

  • Increasing strength
  • Increasing balance to prevent future falls
  • Restoring lost movement
  • Healing pain that impedes mobility
  • Recovering from accidents or illness

Occupational Therapy

While the name might imply something profession-related, occupational therapy actually works towards improving your ability to perform daily activities that “occupy” your time. Occupational therapy doesn’t treat a physical ailment, but instead works towards restoring abilities and daily function. An Occupational Therapist (OT) will work with you on determining which skills are the most important to empower you to take care of your everyday needs with more independence. Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA) will also work with you throughout the process. 

Occupational therapy works towards goals such as:

  • Improving logical thought processes for movement and activity planning
  • Conserving energy so it can be used where it counts the most
  • Restoring the ability to dress, prepare meals, maintain personal hygiene, and other daily functions
  • Improving muscle strength and range of motion in joints

Speech Therapy

If you’ve suffered an injury or illness that has lessened your ability to communicate, speech therapy may be able to help. Speech therapy might be necessary due to a number of factors, such as recovering from a stroke,  treating a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, or helping if you’re having difficulty swallowing, among others. If you’re having issues with communication, Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are trained to help you set attainable goals and work with you towards recovering lost skills.

Speech therapy works towards goals including:

  • Improving abilities to use language
  • Improving cognitive functioning
  • Devising alternate communication strategies
  • Improving the ability to swallow, and alternate dietary strategies when swallowing is an issue

 

Stay tuned for our next part of this series where we explore more about what a rehab experience at The Chateau looks like.

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If you’ve ever asked a resident of The Chateau what their favorite part of living there is, the odds are pretty good that “the food” was on their list. With every option from casual meals to upscale dining, everyone has wonderful things to say.

One of the minds (and stomachs) behind this great, healthy food is Laura Vollink. As Assistant Dining Director, it’s Laura’s job to make sure that dining operations run smoothly--in other words, to make sure everybody eats well!

Laura’s work includes meal planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “We try to make food we think our particular residents will like. We pay attention to what they prefer, and also work to make it a healthy balance.” Laura works with Chef Walter to make a 4-week menu plan that’s nutritious, not boring, and that makes sense. She says, “You know, like not to have a hot, heavy soup in the middle of summer.”

Even if she didn’t know the word dietitian as a little girl, Laura knew she wanted to work with food. “I love to eat,” says Laura. “I want to be healthy and active. My mom experimented with making exciting and healthy foods, and we had great meals.” She shared a story of her mom using soy instead of beef in Hamburger Helper--but she promises she would never pull a trick like that over on The Chateau residents.

Eating is a social occasion, Laura shared. She loves getting to know the residents, and watching them get to know one another. Her favorite part about what she does is learning what people like, what they have done, what they have seen, their history, and their insights to life. So next time you see her, say hello! She’d love to meet you.

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The Chateau is home to many people from all walks of life. Various backgrounds, stories, and experiences make up our residents. Perhaps one of our most “famous” residents is none other than Mr. Harry Rediger himself. Out in the Cape community, you may know him as Mayor Rediger. But here, we just know him as Harry--our friend and fellow resident.


Harry joined The Chateau community in August of 2015. Before settling in Cape Girardeau 40 years ago, he lived in 8 different cities throughout the Midwest, and even down in Texas for a spell. No place, however, was as perfect for him and his family as Cape Girardeau. He and his late wife fell in love with the city, the people and the proximity to big metro areas without having to be in the hustle and bustle of it all. They raised their 4 children here, and even though they were not native to the area, they always considered Cape Girardeau their hometown.


“Cape Girardeau is a regional hub,” Harry says, citing the University. “The school has grown up so much that you can hardly tell it’s the same place!” His favorite part of the University's role in the city is the shows they put on at the River Campus. The one show he could see over and over is Mamma Mia--and as a matter of fact, he did! The year it was at the River Campus, he saw it locally and a St. Louis production of it.


He holds The Chateau Girardeau in high esteem, calling it state of the art. “My advice,” he says, “is this. I recommend that people who are thinking of changing to independent living, do it sooner rather than later.” During his first months living at The Chateau, there was a snowstorm that warded many residents from leaving. But not to be discouraged, Harry was still able to go to the gym, the bank, eat breakfast, and get his paper--all without leaving the building!


Harry loves the community within a community. “You can be as active as you love--or not. Whatever it is, you can find it here. Chateau is alive.” After his term is up in April 2018, he plans to get even more involved in all that’s offered. “There’s far more here to do than most people could even set out to do,” he laughed. He’s got some other things up his sleeve, too--but you’ll just have to wait until 2018 to find out.


After reflecting on his time so far as a member of The Chateau, he concluded by sharing this piece of profound insight. “One of the great things [about The Chateau] is that we are family here; [I] don't mean just residents--we we have a great staff and we all take care of each other .  Residents take care of staff, staff takes care of residents and we all take care of each other.  We are a family.”


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Originally from Boston, Mr. John Dragoni has called a lot of places “home” in his life—most recently, The Chateau Girardeau.

His travels have taken him to the highest skies and under the depths of the seas. He’s tasted bear, alligator, and every kind of lobster—but contests that New England lobster takes the cake over all of them. The only thing he hasn’t tried is reindeer. “I couldn’t eat Rudolph!” he said.

His favorite places to travel were Norway and Finland. They were sweet and wonderful people, and blonde! He explained that as an Italian American, he and his jet black hair stuck out like a sore thumb in this time there. Which didn’t stop him from making himself at home in the foreign countries he visited.

He served the country in WWII. He was sent through various types of training before finally being assigned to the B29. During his time in the service, he saw many parts of the world, like India, Burma, and Guam. His time serving inspired him to stay involved in organizations like The Marine Corps League, the Disabled American Veterans, and the VFW throughout his life.

After his time in the service, his life led him to Cape Girardeau. Coming from the northeast, it was a bit of a culture shock. “I thought everything was broken,” he said, “because everyone was always fixin to do something!”

A self-named “newcomer,” however, John was not deterred from getting involved. He quickly became invested in the Cape Girardeau community and began to put roots here and take on projects he felt close to, like the American Legion, the VFW, and even working to repaint the miniature Statue of Liberty on the corner of Broadway and West End downtown. When he arrived to town, the statue was a dull red, not at all like the real Lady Liberty. He saw to it that the color was changed to the more familiar shade of aged copper.

One of his greatest accomplishments in the Cape Girardeau community was the VFW wall. To raise funds for the organization, he started the Legacy Wall. For a donation, contributors could get their names engraved on a regular 8x8 brick that became a part of the wall. “You can see the evolution now,” he said, noting that people began to request bigger bricks. The 8x8 bricks soon became 12x12 bricks and eventually people requested large red bricks with white crosses.

During his early years in Cape Girardeau, he lived in what he affectionately referred to as a “fine and beautiful home.” When his wife took ill, they sought attention for her at various facilities but they were drawn to the hospitality of The Chateau. “Here,” he says, gesturing to The Chateau around him, “they were very nice.” Now, 12 years later, Mr. Dragoni has happily permanently relocated to The Chateau and has called it home sweet home for 2 years.

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If Dr. Mary Frances Luckey looks familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably seen her around in her navy polo teaching Tai Chi at The Chateau. As a resident of The Chateau, Dr. Luckey is very invested in her community, bringing Tai Chi to her fellow residents once a week.

Dr. Luckey was certified to teach Tai Chi in 2008; she found that it was helpful for both her body and soul, and she wanted to share the art with others. When she first introduced Tai Chi to The Chateau community, she laughed when a resident said to her, “I didn’t come to The Chateau to go to school!” but Dr. Luckey is dedicated to making her class as involved as it can be. After months of going through the motions with her, her students are each talented enough to probably teach, according to Dr. Luckey. She admits that to be involved in Tai Chi at The Chateau is a tremendous investment of time, but assures everyone that it’s very worth it to keep your mind, body, and soul happy and healthy.

Besides Tai Chi, Dr. Luckey loves being a part of book club, taking care of her irises, and acting as a caregiver to her late mother’s best friend. But the thing she loves doing most of all is playing Bridge. Her mother and all her friends had been playing every Tuesday since the 50s, but “I never learned to play!” she laughed. When her mother arrived at The Chateau, a few years before Dr. Luckey, she knew no one. Starting from the ground up, she used Bridge as a way to get into the community. And Dr. Luckey followed in her footsteps. Dr. Luckey plays Bridge with a regular group weekly, and once a month she plays Duplicate Bridge, which is much more serious. “There is no talking during the hand,” she emphasized. “But we spend the whole day playing and we talk in between hands and at lunch,” she smiled.

Dr. Luckey’s favorite thing about The Chateau is being surrounded by friends. She says, gesturing to the lobby, “Oh, I’m down here all the time, talking to people.” The Chateau gave her the safety and the security she needed, as well as the opportunity to socialize. Because of her arthritis, getting around to places and going to events was more difficult when she was alone. But she credits the community to greater health all around. “Something binds us together but I don’t know what that something is,” she said. “We never have to miss out, even if we’ve been gone. We all give each other a lot more energy!”

Dr. Mary Frances Luckey has been a resident of The Chateau for 8 years.

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