A new center for Alzheimer’s and dementia care has opened in metro Birmingham. Fairview Health & Rehab Center cut the ribbon on its Life Engagement Unit on May 9 in front of a crowd of community and health care leaders.

Fairview Health & Rehab Center Administrator Dianne Webb gives Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman a tour of the Life Engagement Unit.

Fairview Health & Rehab Center Administrator Dianne Webb gives Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman a tour of the Life Engagement Unit.

“I think it is a great addition to this facility and I think it will provide a needed service,” Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman said as he helped cut the ribbon. “I have experience with this in my own family and I have seen first-hand the benefit that this kind of facility provides for the quality of life for our citizens.”

The Life Engagement Unit is the result of an extensive renovation to part of Fairview Health & Rehab Center’s campus. The unit features a private courtyard with a large covered patio, a new nurses station, a renovated dining room with new furniture and wood flooring. All of this is located in an area that offers safety and security for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“We’ve seen a great need for true dementia care in this area and it’s growing every day,” Fairview Health & Rehab Center Administrator Dianne Webb said. “I feel that Fairview is going to be able to reach out even further into the community to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families.”

The new unit will provide around the clock nursing services for up to 19 people. Registered Nurse Domonique Silas will lead the unit and oversee staff members who will focus solely on the Life Engagement Unit. Consistent staffing helps those living in the unit to become familiar and comfortable with their caregivers. It allows staff members to develop personal relationships with the residents and better understand each individual’s needs.

Gardening life engagement station at Fairview Health & Rehab Center.

Gardening life engagement station at Fairview Health & Rehab Center.

“It’s important to note that this is not just a building renovation” Webb added. “Our nurses and other staff members are trained to meet the unique needs of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Planning for the Life Engagement Unit began in late 2014. The unit features stations, called Life Engagement Centers, where residents can independently enjoy activities designed to meet the needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 89,000 Alabamians have Alzheimer’s. The number is predicted to grow to 110,000 by 2025. Nationally, more than five million people are living with Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death.