Kathy McLaughlin doesn’t recall how she and her sister, Diane Tucker, found Dr. Charles H. Edwards II of Memory Center Charlotte.
Their mother, Lenore Krieg, 78, a resident of Elmcroft Senior Living in south Charlotte, suffers from dementia. Krieg has been under Edwards’ care for seven months, according to McLaughlin.
After their first meeting with Edwards, McLaughlin said, “He gave my mom hope, and he gave my sister and me hope. He made me feel that I was going to be OK.
“(Dementia) is a very hard disease. It’s a long disease, and it affects everyone differently.”
A Charlotte native and cardiothoracic surgeon with 31 years of experience, Edwards opened Memory Center Charlotte in December 2013. His office is in the Eastover Medical Park.
Edwards, 66, said that about two years ago he developed a tremor in his hand. “It was a sign to me that I wasn’t going to be able to practice heart surgery into my 70s,” Edwards said.
“It shook me that I wasn’t going to be able to listen to the stories, have that contact with the patients. I want to practice medicine until the day I die or until I get Alzheimer’s,” he said.
Dementia is a very hard disease. It’s a long disease, and it affects everyone differently.
Edwards said his next course of action included two years of research and study observing approaches to dementia care.
Edwards said that when he opened Memory Center Charlotte, it was important to him to have a competent, patient, kind medical team willing to get to know each individual. The team includes Robyn Wolkofsky, Margaret Carnes, Mary Edwards and Angela Carnes.
The initial visit with the patient and family lasts about 90 minutes, during which time the team asks about the person’s medical and personal history.
“You have to have the time to get to know who they are, because they still have capacity for trust,” Edwards said.
“They understand very clearly whether you are connected to them and are interested in them,” Wolkofsky said. “We see them as a person, not just as a person with memory loss.”
Wolkofsky has personal experience with dementia: Her grandmother suffered from the disease.
“It would have been wonderful to have had a team to help along the journey,” Wolkofsky said. “Firsthand experience with my grandmother having Alzheimer’s disease gave me insight into what families of dementia patients desperately need and too often cannot find a medical team willing to take the time, go the extra mile. … We want them to know they are not alone on this journey and that we are here to help.”