Las Ventanas to open new unit for Alzheimer’s patients

Imagine a world where words don’t make sense, where you can’t accomplish the simplest of tasks and nothing seems right. A world where complete strangers walk uninvited into your home and call you “mother” or “father.”

Those with Alzheimer’s disease or other chronic memory issues often reach a point where they can no longer care for themselves and need special assistance. Now, Las Ventanas, a continuing care community at 10401 W. Charleston Blvd., has announced plans to add memory support to its services as early as 2014.

“When we look at what’s happening within, not just our community in Las Vegas but in our society, the number of individuals (afflicted) with Alzheimer’s is growing exponentially,” said Dennis Gradillas, Las Ventanas executive director.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, with one in every three seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

“We have the ability to assist seniors with residential living to assisted living, into the needs of skilled nursing,” Gradillas said. “What we don’t have is that piece that takes care of somebody when they need really specialized services with regard to dementia or Alzheimer’s. … This is a population in need of specialized services.”

The proposed name for the new facility is The Grove. It is being touted as the only not-for-profit memory support facility in Las Vegas. It will be open to Las Ventanas residents and the public. Plans call for 16 units, with one person to a unit. A staff of 16 will have specialized training and oversee the tenants.

Staff members will provide around-the-clock care for each resident, making for a nurturing bond. Other services will include a focus on exercise and wellness, music and the arts, and reminiscing activities.

Alzheimer’s patients often exhibit “unusual behavior; they’ll be combative,” Gradillas said. “It takes specialized training to deal with that. You want things safe for everybody.”

Gradillas said the entire Las Ventanas community was behind the plan. That includes Edward and Carole Gagloff, both 80. They moved into Las Ventanas about 1½ years ago. They enjoy getting out and being active. He said the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s was not a real concern.

“But then, we know people who developed Alzheimer’s, and it wasn’t a concern for them, either,” Edward said. “You just don’t know who it’s going to happen to or if it’s going to happen. … I think (The Grove will) be an extremely nice thing to have here, because what happens is, if one (member) of the married couple develops Alzheimer’s, and they get to a certain point where they can no longer take care of (their spouse), this will be a full-service unit so that the unaffected person can just walk down the hall to see his or her partner. Plus, you know that they’re being taken care of well.”

In the 1970s in Northern Kentucky, Carole’s mother, Elizabeth Maxfield, had Alzheimer’s or something akin to it and needed 24-hour monitoring.

“I can remember some of her behaviors, how difficult it was. She’d just kind of wander off,” she said. “You’d turn around for two seconds, she could get to the other side of the house, and she’d go walking off down the street with no thought of danger. A neighbor would call saying that they’d seen her. You’d have to watch her every second.”

To avoid people walking off, The Grove will be a secured area.

“In the Alzheimer’s community, they call it an ‘elopement’ risk,” Gradillas said.

Land restraints kept Las Ventanas from constructing a separate building. Instead, The Grove will be under the same roof as the building where other residents reside. Architects are working on the conversion design. Plans call for one floor of the structure to be renovated so that eight of the current homes will be turned into 16 units. It’s about 12,000 square feet of space in what Gradillas called an underutilized area.

The Grove will cost an estimated $1.5 million. Las Ventanas is seeking donations from those who would like a section of The Grove to be named for them or a family member.

Interested donors should visit or call 702-207-4200.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

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