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  • Andrea Bruno

Wayne needed memory care, NOT a nursing home!

Pam’s Story:

In January 2013, after an extensive examination at Northwestern in Chicago, my husband Wayne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

We moved to a continuing care retirement community in Illinois. This was near where we had lived and raised our children. This retirement community offers a full continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. We lived in an independent living unit for over six years.

We would often visit our vacation home in Salida because our children had moved here. We particularly love to come during the holidays. In early November 2019, we again traveled to our beloved home in Salida. Unfortunately, Wayne’s condition had declined making the trip very difficult.


In March of 2020, with the full support of our four children, we decided to stay in Salida permanently. The facility in Illinois where we had lived had gone on lockdown. We knew if we were able to return to Illinois that Wayne would have to go into memory care, and in our opinion, he wasn’t yet at that stage. When we decided to move permanently to Salida I realized that I was giving up the safety net we had enjoyed in Illinois. Unfortunately, I did not realize how long we would be in Covid lockdown, but more importantly, that there is no memory care closer than Colorado Springs for people with Alzheimer’s.

Things were manageable for a couple years. But in the summer of 2022, Wayne’s condition became much worse, and it was very clear that we had waited too long to explore our options. At this time Wayne was 81 and I was 80.


Wayne needed memory care, NOT a nursing home!


We soon realized the nearest options for Memory Care would be in Colorado Springs. As you know, this is over a two-hour drive from Salida. Our oldest son and I made numerous trips to visit various facilities. In the meantime, Wayne’s condition was getting increasingly unmanageable. He did not know any of us, was incontinent, could not safely walk by himself, was acting out, etc. For a number of months before he was transitioned to the Memory Care facility in Colorado Springs, our two sons were at our home in 24x7 in shifts.

Not only is there no memory care in Chaffee County, but there is also no consistently available in-home care for this kind of situation.

When we moved Wayne to Colorado Springs it broke our hearts. I considered renting an apartment there. Unfortunately, Wayne did not know me as anything other than another friendly person; and I know no one in Colorado Springs. However, I was prepared to move there if he did not adjust.

However, he adjusted quite well. One of my children would drive me there at least once a week to visit and monitor the care he was getting. That drive to Colorado Springs was not something that I care to manage on my own. I had good communication with the staff at the memory care facility.

My worst nightmare was if something would happen that required emergency room care and the possibility of Wayne being alone in an ER. In the middle of the night on March 27, 2023, that is exactly what happened. He had gotten out of bed about midnight which is something he hadn’t done for several years. Sadly, he fell, broke his hip, and was taken by ambulance for the first time in his life to an ER. He made that trip alone. And none of us could get there to help him through what must have been an incredibly terrifying and excruciatingly painful experience. We got there about three hours later.

Wayne died the following week.


Our hearts go out to Pam!

Pam recently donated $500 to our cause to bring Assisted Living and Memory Care to Chaffee County. She did this to help others avoid the suffering that she and her family experienced.

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