April 6, 2013

Children of Alzheimer's patient making it their business

Their 10-bed facility is a personal solution to the rising need for elder care.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Martha Fabian, far left, dances with Debi Braun alongside June Meres and Maribeth Beland, far right, in the day room at Bedside Manor on Belgrade Road in Oakland. Fabian and Meres are residents at the 10-bed Alzheimer’s care facility operated by Fabian’s son, E.J. Fabian, and her daughter, Julie Benecke.

Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel

Neither Gram nor the rest of the Fabian family felt good about leaving her at the assisted-living facility. Their stress only got worse over the next few weeks, during which Gram fell twice, prompting two visits to the hospital.

"It just wasn't a good match for her," Fabian said.

It was during the aftermath of the second fall, while at the hospital, that Benecke and Fabian came up with the idea that would give their mother the care she needed without separating her from the family she loved.

Six months later, on March 20, Fabian and Benecke officially opened Bedside Manor, a state-licensed residential care facility dedicated to Alzheimer's and dementia.

While the problem is common, Gallant said, the solution is almost unheard of.

"It's such a unique case," she said. "I think it's kind of commendable."

Bedside Manor is licensed for 10 beds, but the current resident population is just two, including Gram. It has 14 employees, some of whom are per diem, and at least two staff members are on duty at all times, creating a staff-to-patient ratio that Gallant said compares favorably with the state average.

The building looks clean and comfortable, with amenities such as a recreation room and a hair salon. However, it also has what Benecke calls "a small feel, a homey feel," with common rooms and bedrooms decorated in a country-home style.


The facility is a family affair.

"Our brothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and family friends all contributed in some capacity," Fabian said.

Family members have donated their time to gut and rebuild the interior of the building, formerly a foster home. They also have helped with the interior decorating and construction of a tall wooden fence that encloses a garden, a modest walking path and a gazebo.

A niece, who is also a registered nurse, is on the staff, and a family friend comes in to play the piano in the rec room.

"Our family's very close," Benecke said.

From a financial perspective, the enterprise is a leap of faith. Fabian said they need to fill the other eight slots in order to make the business work.

It was a leap they were comfortable making, Benecke said.

"This is what anybody would do for their parents, if they could."


Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contatced at 861-9287, or at:



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