After Dad passed away about ten years ago, my siblings and I were concerned about Mom remaining in her small home, south of Atlanta. I lived in North Atlanta and my other siblings were in other states. Mom had always been independent and wanted to remain in her home as long as possible. We committed to stay in close contact with Mom to monitor her situation and to ensure that she was safe and well-cared for.
That worked well for a number of years, but then, despite her excellent physical health, Mom’s memory began to fade rather quickly. It was actually Mom who brought it to our attention and asked the doctor for some medication for dementia. But it was not until a little over a year ago that it became clear something had to change. She could no longer drive or cook, and we were afraid, because of her love for daily walks that she might wander off and get lost.
For more than a year my siblings and I reviewed options and visited Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities. Not only was it exhausting, but it was actually depressing. We had seen a number of places that, frankly, I was frightened and felt embarrassed to place my sweet Mom there.
The second issue was cost. We were overwhelmed by ‘sticker shock’ to say the least. We are not poor, but Mom is a widow living on my Dad’s government pension and none of us children are in a place in our lives where we have financial margin. We began to explore her moving in with my sister in Alabama or my wife and I in Canton. But by now Mom’s circumstances had escalated to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and although she did not need specialized nursing, she would require a different level of care than we could offer.
For several months, we spent weekends researching on the internet and visiting a number of locations. Some looked good online, but as difficult as it is, nothing can beat an on-sight visit to gain insights and watch the interactions of residents and staff. We did thorough research in more than 30 memory care communities. All of those that we could afford seemed to have that ‘institutional’ feel that we all felt very uncomfortable with.
One day my wife was driving down Rope Mill Road near the Outlet Mall and saw an attractive, new Assisted Living and Memory Care Community called Camellia Place. We decided to visit the next Sunday. As we sat in the parking lot we were pleasantly surprised with the architecture of six separate one level houses with large front porches, decorated with plush, outdoor furnishings. Not a single wooden rocking chair in sight! The landscape was beautiful for each home.
I will also admit that the beauty and quality of the campus caused me to be more than a bit skeptical about affordability. Nevertheless, at the urging of my wife, I reluctantly entered the front door with some measure of apprehension. I was certain by now that I would be discouraged by the outrageous cost.
Imagine how disarmed we were to be greeted by one of the two owners. Lauren Clifton, an executive level healthcare professional and certified Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Trainer/Practitioner, shared that she had built the community with her Mom in mind. Apparently, her experience had been similar to my own.
After a tour and discussion, we sat down to talk. She patiently answered all of our questions and shared some things we have never heard addressed in our search. For example, my Dad served in the Army in WWII, but no one had ever asked us or advised us about that. Therefore, we had no idea that government Aid and Assistance was available to veterans and their spouses. Lauren suggested that we take advantage of a free consultation with Nelson Eldercare to see if Mom might qualify. I was excited to share our discovery with my siblings who live out of state. As it turned out, the more than $1100 per month that Mom eventually received from the VA, plus her social security and pension, was enough to ensure her level of care at one of the finest communities we had ever seen.
The institutional feel was absent. The large, lunchroom style dining areas we had disliked in every other facility was replaced with beautifully decorated kitchens and tastefully appointed dining rooms in each of the six craftsman style houses. In November of 2016 we made the decision to move my mom into Camellia Place.
On January 28 2017, we moved our Mom into a nice suite in one of the well-designed homes at Camellia Place. Since that time, either me or my wife have dropped in to visit at least once every day. I cannot tell you how happy we all are with Mom’s care and how impressed I am with the unique model at Camellia Place. Mom is a delightful and positive person, and the attentive care, kindness and social interaction have gone well beyond our expectation. We knew she would adjust because of her positive attitude, but we were pleasantly surprised that she has not only adjusted but has thrived. She tells us often how thankful she is for Camellia Place and for all the “wonderful people she has met and now loves” that care for her.
Camellia Place has my deepest appreciation and my highest recommendation. I am confident that Mom would have deteriorated quickly had we not pushed through all of our concerns and discovered how to make this happen. If you are struggling with a similar situation, I would urge you not to dismiss Camellia Place too quickly. I am not suggesting that it is always easy, but we have found a premium level of care at a price we thought we could not afford. We were delighted to discover that we could afford the care our Mother greatly deserved. The peace of mind is priceless.