AKRON, Ohio — Dementia is the seventh leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 55 million people worldwide living with the diagnosis.
It affects memory, thinking and the ability to perform daily activities.

What You Need To Know

  • Dementia is the seventh-leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization

  • Worldwide, more than 55 million people are living with a dementia diagnosis

  • Memory care provides a higher staff to resident ratio, and help to navigate the next chapter of life

It’s a diagnosis Ken Flick and his wife Judy are navigating together.

“Do you remember this one?” Judy asked, handing Ken a photograph from his time in the military.

“Yeah, I remember that,” Ken said. “Like it was 10 minutes ago.”

But memories of fighting in the Vietnam War aren’t something Ken likes to keep top of mind.

“Forgot as fast as I could,” he said.

While he was serving overseas, Judy waited for his safe return to Ohio.

“Longest 13 months of my life,” she said.

Their devotion to each other is clear in their 55 years of marriage. They travel life’s winding road together, which leads them to their home in Vitalia Stow’s memory care community.

Memory Care Directory Kaitlynn Holley said reminiscing through photographs or skills stations set up around the neighborhood help bring meaning to this next phase of life.

“That short-term memory with dementia is gone, but those long-term memories are still there,” she said.

This neighborhood has 18 apartments, and Holley said this style of living is becoming more popular, with personalized care and a higher staff to resident ratio than other types of assisted living.

“I think memory care in the past was definitely kind of stigmatized,” she said. “A lot of people were very fearful of it.”  

Judy said she’s promoting the place to her relatives. As the youngest child of 14 siblings, she comes from a big family.

“They always say when they come here, ‘Oh, when I get that age, I want to come here and live,’” she said.

She called everyone at the community a family, which is what Holley said is her team’s goal.

“It’s really important to remember that they’re still people,” Holley said. “Even if they have memory loss or are confused at times. They’re still that same person that they always were.”

Judy Flick’s the same woman who fell for Ken Flick.

“When I first saw him, I knew that I loved him,” she said.

This began an unending commitment to each other.

“She was just the one I wanted,” said Ken Flick.