Thursday afternoon the public got its first look at Ben Hur Health and Rehabilitation’s new secure memory care unit at their senior health facility. From 4-6 p.m. Ben Hur offered tours, snacks, refreshments, and musical entertainment by Kenn Clark.

They call the unit Aguste’s Cottage, after Auguste Deter, the first person ever to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The unit is secure, meaning it requires a key-code to enter or leave, because patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia can wander, get lost or confused, and face a variety of risks as their condition advances.

Executive Director Caryl Barnes, who has been with the facility in various capacities for 37 years, told The Paper memory care has become a challenge for the health care industry.

“Now we have a better understanding of the behaviors that are associated [with the need for memory care],” Barnes said. “We try to emphasize the social interaction and the social needs, the reinforcement that the family needs because it’s so difficult for them to face the issues that present themselves. We try to keep [the patients’] mind busy and their bodies busy so they are engaged during the day with each other and with staff members. I think that makes a big difference.”

Barnes said there was a need in this community for this type of facility.

“There are increasing numbers of dementia patients,” Barnes said. “Within Montgomery County there was not a specialized unit that was devoted specifically to dementia care. We have a secure area, so we decided to develop it and to the thing we know are appropriate for dementia patients.

The unit has two wings, one of which is both functional and housing patients at this time. The second wing, for which tours were offered Thursday, will begin to take patients as soon as they pass the final set of state inspections.

Barnes expressed pride and gratitude about the new unit.

“We feel it is an honor to be able to serve this community in the way that we are,” Barnes told The Paper. “This is a very specialized population and our caregivers are specially trained to address these needs. We are just happy to be able to offer this to the community.”

If you have any questions about the Auguste’s Cottage memory care unit or about Ben Hur Health and Rehabilitation, you may call Jacob Cain, the director of marketing and admissions, at (765) 362-0905. If he is unavailable, you may ask to speak with Caryl Barnes.