The Sacramento office of the Alzheimer’s Association reports that at least 20 memory-care, skilled-care and assisted-living facilities have evacuated residents as a result of fires in the wine country region, and a number of those residents have come to the capital region.
Michelle Johnson, the director for the Alzheimer’s Sacramento office, said the office began getting calls on Monday from families looking for relatives.
“They knew their loved ones were in evacuation areas, but they didn’t know where their loved ones had been evacuated to, so that’s why as we started to get those calls, we started reaching out and doing our research to find where folks were going, so we could help people get information about where their families are,” Johnson said.
Large companies such as Oakmont and Brookdale have accommodated residents at their communities in other areas of Northern California, Johnson said, but in some cases, clients have ended up at evacuation centers because they had to be moved to safety quickly. Johnson said her agency has offered to train evacuation staff on how to care and monitor individuals who suffer from dementia.
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“Evacuating to a high school or even a strange community can be a very stressful, disorienting experience for someone with Alzheimer’s disease,” Johnson said, “and what happens sometimes in that case is it makes it more likely those individuals will wander. If they’re not staffed enough to really be able to keep an eye on folks, then it makes it a potentially unsafe situation….We have a program. We work with Medic Alert on a Medic Alert safe return program that helps if people wander.”
At Brookdale’s headquarters in Tennessee, company spokeswoman Heather Hunter said: “We’ve got 1,000 different communities across the country, a lot in that Sacramento-Santa Rosa area. When we’ve been evacuating people, we’ve been removing them to existing Brookdale communities.”
Brookdale communities in Orangevale and Folsom, for instance, have welcomed evacuees. Hunter said they had to move quickly to evacuate and did their best to reach emergency contacts for each resident as soon as possible.
Brookdale evacuated residents from their Anaheim Hills, Chanate, Fountaingrove, Paulin Creek, Rohnert Park and Sonoma communities, according to the company post at newsroom.brookdale.com. Residents will remain in temporary accommodations until authorities confirm it is safe to return.
Rohnert Park and Anaheim Hills residents can return Tuesday, according to the Brookdale website post. Hunter said the company will update that post with any news on evacuations, transfers and returns.
“We remain committed to the safety of residents and associates at all times,” she said, “If an evacuation occurs, we keep in mind the associates’ personal well being and if they are able to assist with the evacuation and relocation of residents, we try to maintain a consistent work schedule for them.”