Theresa was an active and loving 54 and Jim was a confident and gregarious 53, until they were diagnosed with Dementia

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(L-R) Theresa, who is a resident at Cardinal Court, is shown here with her husband Jeff Fedor, Community Resource Director Holly Soresso, Sondra Beitel and her husband, Jim, who is also a resident. Their sweet service dog, Kona, accompanies Sondra on her visits here. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Beth Newcomb

We worked for the same company, until she got fired for swearing at her boss,” recalls Jeff Fedor. “Her behavior had changed. She told me she wanted a divorce and she was forgetting the simple things. She knew something was wrong, she just didn’t know what.”

Theresa Fedor was just 54 when she and her husband, Jeff, found out she had Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia. “The neurologist told us she’d likely had it for seven years prior to her diagnosis,” Jeff says. “I kept her at home for five years, but taking care of her became more difficult.”

“Jim is a big man,” smiles his wife, Sondra Beitel. “He commands the room wherever he is. When he was 53, Jim’s boss made mention of the fact that he wasn’t acting like himself. We took him to a doctor who said Jim was just stressed out and needed more sleep. He had a high-level job so we didn’t think much of it. But he was forgetting simple things. After a battery of tests, including a PET scan, we found out he had Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Now, instead of spending our retirement together, he’s spending his days as a patient and I come to visit.”

Jim lived at home with Sondra for a while. Their service dog, Kona, helped Jim to navigate the day-to-day. “She would get his medications for him when a timer went off, and other little duties like that,” Sondra smiles.

Now in their early 60s, Theresa and Jim ultimately progressed to a point where being at home was no longer safe for either of them. Their spouses had to make the heart-wrenching decision to find them care in a residential facility. Both Jeff and Sondra chose JEA Senior Living, which owns and operates Cardinal Court, in Strongsville, and Greenfield Estates, in Copley.

Cardinal Court and Greenfield Estates are area leaders in helping people with Alzheimer’s and dementia navigate through each stage of progression. Both locations offer the services of a community resource director to help family members connect more intimately with the diseases.

“When a loved one receives the diagnosis that he or she has Alzheimer’s Related Dementias, it can be overwhelming to the family,” Community Resource Director for Cardinal Court Holly Soresso relates. “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Our focus is to offer support wherever it is needed. People can visit either of our locations as the need presents itself, without an appointment, and get guidance.”

Cardinal Court and Greenfield Estates are designed to resemble the interior of a warm and inviting home. Life stations dot the hallways to help connect residents to the past. Before a new resident establishes him or herself, Holly and her team conduct an interview with the family to gather his or her unique life story, which is then incorporated in their care plan.

Jeff says he chose the Strongsville location for Theresa because it’s closer to his house. “I thought it would be too expensive for us, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s very affordable,” he adds. “My goal is to ultimately bring Theresa home and they support me on that.”

Sondra says that because Jim becomes easily agitated, it’s been a challenge for her to find the right caregiving environment. The team at Cardinal Court provides the perfect balance. “I chose to bring Jim here because during a surprise tour on a Saturday, staff member Alisha, LPN, was raving about how much she loved working here. That really grabbed me,” Sondra smiles. “Jim is happy here, and that’s what matters most.”

To take a tour of Cardinal Court or Greenfield Estates Alzheimer’s Special Care Centers and experience the difference these dementia care units can make in the life of someone you love, call Cardinal Court and ask for Holly Soresso, 440-268-9180, 18719 Drake Road, in Strongsville, or Greenfield Estates, 330-664-1650, 3522 Commercial Drive, in Copley. The web address is JEASeniorLiving.com.

Categories: Westside Smart Living