A Vietnam Vet finds a new Neighborhood

“Our bodies are only the clothing our souls put on to participate in life.

                                                                                                                         Beverly Beckham

A Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder wandered the streets tormented by war memories.  People from his neighborhood knew and tolerated him.  He received mental health services, yet his ability to cope diminished.  His elderly parents feared his demise when they could no longer support him.

His arrival at Garden Village in Yakima was traumatic.  He screamed at people when approached.  His neck was hyper-extended creating safety concerns during his incessant, all day wandering.  His compulsive disorder included walking into multiple bathrooms and holding onto toilet flush handles which wasted water and disrupted their availability.  He couldn’t sleep, wouldn’t eat, and was very emaciated. His condition deteriorated.  It was assumed he would not survive long.

Over a year long journey, staff did not give up on him, which paid wonderful dividends.  Multiple prescriptions were reduced or removed from his medication regimen.  This veteran is now happier, talks (even softly) with others, can look people in the eye, smiles, and laughs.  He achieved a healthy weight and can obtain assistance without screaming.  He is able to sit still, enjoy the outdoors and sleep at night, which contributes greatly to his quality of life.  He moved from his childhood neighborhood into a Garden Village neighborhood where he is supported and accepted for who he is.

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Individuals with both medical and behavioral healthcare needs present a complex and often confusing challenge for diagnosis and treatment.  Yakima is fortunate to have Garden Village, our community’s only nonprofit skilled nursing facility whose mission is to help adult and elderly patients with medical conditions complicated by complex mental health problems, live successfully in the community.  Garden Village provides coordinated, integrated care for residents with all levels of Alzheimer’s disease, severe dementia and unstable mental illness.  It uses a “neighborhood” model of care as a successful alternative to conventional nursing home treatment, providing an environment where residents thrive.

 

Everyone participates in life.  Everyone deserves acceptance.

 

Leslie Whiteside

Grants Coordinator

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