The poet Robert Frost penned these words to one of his most famous poems:

"Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold."

One might say that during the golden years of many seniors at Wesley Meadows Retirement Community, green is now the predominant color that surrounds them.

The lush garden plants, soothing water features and shady seating areas give residents a cool respite from the noonday heat.

Gazebos and pergolas offer places to relax and enjoy good conversation.

It's that atmosphere that will serve as the backdrop at Wesley Meadows Retirement Community .

Wesley Meadows will open its doors to the greater community during an open house celebration from 1 until 3 p.m. and unveil ambitious plans for a one-of-a-kind Alzheimer's campus house to be constructed in the future.

The new memory support unit will be one of the only facilities dedicated to patients with memory and cognitive issues in the North Mississippi region.

Wesley Meadows is operated by Methodist Senior Services based in Tupelo and has been providing assisted senior living in Hernando for the past 22 years.

Offering a new patented "Green House Home," the residential memory care unit is designed to differ from the typical "institutional-like setting" in traditional nursing home or senior care facilities.

In the "Green House," residents have their own private rooms, can take meals in a communal setting if they choose, and enjoy "home-cooked, home-prepared meals" from a state-of-the-art kitchen and dietary staff trained to prepare "whole meals."

Two members of the Rotary Club of Hernando who serve on the Wesley Meadows board briefed members on the future plans for the "Green Home" concept at Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting.

"According to the University of Mississippi Medical Center's MIND Center, more than 52,000 Mississippians have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of memory impairment," said Alan Sims with Southern Bancorp in Hernando. "This number could double by 2030."

Harvey Ferguson, now retired from the banking industry, also serves on the Wesley Meadows Board and is helping to head up the capital campaign to raise $1.5 million for the new Green House unit at Wesley Meadows.

"Our goal is to not start construction until we get all of the money pledged," Ferguson said.

Ferguson, whose mother lived at Wesley Meadows for a time, said that Wesley Meadows has "served an unusually major role in our lifetimes."

Ferguson added that a total of $400,000 has been raised so far.

Marsha Brasher, Executive Director at Methodist Senior Services, said the past two decades have been a busy time at Wesley Meadows.

"We opened up in 1996," Brasher said. "For so long we were independent and assisted living. The industry has changed. Before, folks were pretty independent. Saturday, they are needing more and more help."

Wesley Meadows Retirement Community recently added a senior activity center with a large gathering center and library, in addition to a large-screen television."

"We have also built an assisted living area so that our seniors are able to watch TV, enjoy families and have birthday parties," Brasher said.

"It's up and running," Brasher said of the activity center. "We are now in the capital campaign for the memory care unit. It's exciting what is happening here."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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