Life changed in an instant the day Bill Arnold could not calculate a simple transaction at his job. A trip to the hospital confirmed the worst for Bill and his wife, Vicki. At 51 years of age, Bill Arnold was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“That’s when our whole world started spinning out of control,” says Vicki.
The Arnolds contacted the Central North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and its Marion County program coordinator, Terrie Hardison. Bill and Vicki attended classes to educate themselves about this disease, which, according to Terrie, affects 11,000 individuals in the county. Slowly, they began to understand how to live with this disease.
“Terrie and the association changed our perspective from always being frustrated to becoming more accepting of our situation and knowing how to deal with it,” adds Vicki.
However, Bill’s illness soon progressed to the point he could no longer work. Vicki, now the sole financial provider, works full-time, leaving Bill house-bound during the week while she’s away.
Kimberly Scudder never imagined how her years of work as a design consultant would merge with her current career as a marketing consultant for Better@Home, a home healthcare company. But, when given the opportunity to participate in Ocala Style’s Design Dilemma with a Heart, Kimberly knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“I wanted to help an Alzheimer’s patient because my company is making huge developments in helping both caregivers and those with Alzheimer’s live safely and comfortably within their own homes,” says Kimberly.
Knowing that one of the greatest challenges an Alzheimer’s family faces is in-home independence for the patient, Kimberly set her sights on the Arnold’s backyard and patio.
“The Arnolds said that Bill loves to bird watch and spend time in his backyard,” says Kimberly. “But, now that Bill cannot work, the Arnolds couldn’t afford to landscape and enhance this area. So, my goal was not to just decorate a space, but make it more functional, safe, and stimulating for both Bill and Vicki.”
Kimberly enlisted the help of landscape designer Rick Lorick and Ocala Landscape and Design owner Teddy Costello. Together, they created a garden that the Arnolds will never want to leave. They moved the concrete patio table out to the shade and added an eye-catching market umbrella. A peacock bench sits by Bill’s butterfly garden, creating a comfortable place for him to relax.
Kimberly also turned the Arnold’s screened patio into a pleasant retreat to ensure Bill had more than one optimal seating preference. She added wicker indoor/outdoor seating picking up on green, red, and gold accessories. A standing bamboo light with a canvas shade provides soft lighting which is especially nice at night.
The Arnolds are thrilled with the end result.
“We’re so grateful to Kimberly for giving Bill his own space which has greatly increased our usage of the back porch and yard,” says Vicki.
Terrie Hardison agrees.
“This project has added a lot of peace and tranquility,” adds Terrie. “The garden adds value to his life to let him go outside and stay active which is the real key point in living with this disease.”
Kimberly says she is the one who is grateful to have been involved in this project.
“This has been a very rewarding and educational chance to know a lovely couple.”
Design Tips for Living with Alzheimer’s — Kimberly Scudder
Marketing Consultant, Better@Home
- Incorporate books into a space that the patient can read to help with memory retention.
- Replace dangerous obstacles in a home with handicap-accessible features like a step-in/wheel-in shower.
- Make sure all water handles are temperature controlled to avoid accidental scalding.
Special Help Needed For The Arnolds
Kimberly Scudder isn’t quitting after completing her Design Dilemma with a Heart project. Now, she’s focusing on customizing the Arnold’s shower to make it accessible and safe. Anyone wishing to assist Kimberly through donations may contact Amy Mangan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want To Help?
- Donate your decorating or design services to a homeowner in need.
- Donate your products—lumber, furniture, carpet, cabinetry, landscaping, accessories, fabric, etc.—to the project.
- Donate your time or resources to the charity.
E-mail Home & Garden Editor Amy Mangan at
email@example.com for more information.
The Alzheimer’s Association
Bill Arnold’s story is no longer an exception to the rule that only the elderly are susceptible to this disease that affects the brain. More individuals are being affected by Alzheimer’s and at an earlier age.
The association is a national network of chapters offering frontline support to individuals affected by the disease and related dementias with services that include 24/7 information and referral, safety services, and education and support groups.
Since its beginning in 1980, the association has become the largest private fund of research, providing nearly $150 million to support research into prevention, treatment, and eventual cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
The North Central Florida Office serves the following counties: Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Suwannee, and Union.
The association also works extensively with law enforcement in education and training about Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.
Central & North Florida Chapter
1101 SW 20th Ct., Room 169
Ocala, Florida 34471
(352) 622-6056 or