I recently visited my grandfather at Valley Crest Residential Care in Apple Valley, CA. It had been the first time I'd seen him in years, and I was pleased to see that he was well taken care of at that facility. He has Alzheimer's, and the facility focuses on Alzheimer's and Dementia patients. The staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and attentive to the residents' needs. In the main resident hallway, by the doors to the patients' rooms are memory boxes, which are filled with photographs and items that are special to each of the patients, and are used to help the residents find their way back to their own room. At the end of the hall, are doors that led to a more intensive care ward for those patients and residents whose diseases had progressed so far that they could no longer live with the main population. During the visit, my parents and I went to lunch with my grandfather in the cafeteria. That's where I saw the patience of the staff really show; to get several dozen demented and Alzheimer's-stricken residents into a room, let alone an orderly single-file line, is, as my mother described it at the time, like herding cats. Nobody was frustrated, just patient with the residents. Even before the lunch-line began forming, and we were just chatting with my grandfather, the staff was attentive to both his and our needs. Lunch itself seemed quite nice, as well. Residents were served soups and salads, among other food stuffs. There were a couple of residents, characters in their own right, bantering loudly back and forth at an adjacent table, and they were hilarious. They seemed to bother my grandfather at first, but a staff member came by and reassured him that they meant him no harm. He quietly drank his tea and forgot about it, after that. The best part of the visit was seeing the mini art gallery in the cafeteria. Each of the residents is given the opportunity to paint and draw, and those paintings are hung in a rotating exhibition on the so-called Valley Crest Art Gallery wall. All of the paintings were generally crude, but all of them were so honest, and so beautiful. I had never seen my grandfather make any art, and it was really astounding to see. He'd been so critical for years of my father making art, and me making art, that it was touching to see him doing the same. It was all the more sad that it took a crippling disease to get him out of that shell.
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