LOMPOC, Calif. - When it comes to the person that refers to herself as his adoptive mom, Mike Martin says his friend Bernice was independent for a long time before her dementia became a problem.
"Bernice didn't live with us, she lived on her own until about a year and a half ago. She's 98 years old so that's pretty [good]," he tells us.
While Bernice was living alone, her health started diminishing as she would often forget to take her pills.
"I just couldn't understand -- you know I called you and you said you took them but then we would find out later she hadn't taken her pills and so yeah it was kind of difficult," Terry Martin explains.
The Martins say one of their biggest eye openers to Bernice's dementia was when she decided to go shopping and couldn't find her way home.
"We had all of the friends from church and everybody out looking for her, we called the police to see if they could help find her and that was when we kind of realized she couldn't live on her own anymore," Mike says.
After doing some research, the Martins decided to bring Bernice to the Meridian of Lompoc, an assisted living facility run by Executive Director Justin Ashton.
The Meridian has a wing dedicated for people with memory disorders.
For Mike, Bernice's move in to the facility was a big relief. "I worried about her on her own - she's really stubborn. It was hard to get her to quit driving.. at age 95," he says.
The staff at the Meridian say one of the biggest things they provide is consistency.
"We can't cure the disease but we can make their day the best it can be and that's our goal. Through their past routines and interests, create their world for them," explains National Sales Director, Sue Johnston.
While Bernice still has good and bad days, the Martins say her health has improved significantly since moving to the facility.
And for them, her memory disorder has become easier to understand.
"We just try not to get offended and we say "that's not the Bernice we know" and "that's not her that's the dementia that's causing the problem"", says Mike Martin.
If you think your loved one may be suffering from a memory disorder, you can visit the Central Coast Alzheimer's Association website for more information.