Even Dementia Can’t Dim Cinderella’s Light
At the end of World War II, her grandmother’s house was the only one on her street standing among the rubble of bombed-out Leipzig. Her American soldier-father and his commander broke the rules to find her.
Even amid the confusion and horrors of war, the press knew a great story when they found one. In 1927, three-year-old Hamilton, Ohio, native Elaine Samuels (Talone) went to Germany to live with her maternal grandparents and attend school. By 1945, when the 19-year-old was rescued from the ruins of Leipzig, she was the only known American to survive the entire war living in Nazi Germany. Stars and Stripes—the independent newspaper of the U.S. Military—dubbed her the “the Cinderella of Leipzig.” Finding her was a front-page miracle for a war-weary nation.
It's a memory you’d never forget—but memories fade, especially if, like Elaine, you’re one of the 47.5 million people worldwide living with the symptoms of dementia. *
Except for a 1955 VE Day 10th Anniversary appearance on the Today show, her story faded into the fog of the Cold War as she reveled in the joys of typical American life. On her return to the United States, Elaine was first interred for a time at Fort Dix. She learned English and married a WWII soldier. Together they raised a family, and Elaine worked as a professional woman—building a life where nobody ever considered her past was much different than anyone else’s. “When I grew up, Mom worked for Constable’s department store in Trenton,” her son, Moorestown-area physician Dr. Albert Talone, says. “She was a first-class retailer. Even today people tell me how they enjoyed buying from her.”
Today, at 91 years old and a resident at Lutheran Crossings Enhanced Living, Elaine's life is much more settled than when it started. "When the time came that she really needed 24-hour care, for her safety and memory loss, our family looked to Lutheran Crossings," Albert tells us. “From its start as ’The Lutheran Home’ this has been a local landmark giving immeasurable help to the Moorestown community.”
While Elaine isn't in a unit designed for dementia and Alzheimer's care, she gets the help she needs for her early-stage dementia. And her family has the confidence of knowing that additional support is available from kind and capable staff if and when her condition advances. "That's why we're here," Lutheran Crossings Administrator Cindy Mackalonis says. "We're a family here . . . whether you’re a resident, family member, short-term rehab patient, volunteer, staff member, or visitor. In addition to benefitting from our care, Elaine is very active with us and gives back in her own way. She's vice president of our residents’ council, enjoys a lot of activities, and regularly attends worship services."
"Mom had a rich and full life and was always active," says Albert. “She gets along very well at Lutheran Crossings where they can respond to her changing needs. We’re very glad she’s here.” Sounds like things turned out happily ever after.
*Source: World Health Organization, 10 Facts on Dementia http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/dementia/en/
The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47.5 million and is projected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030. The number of cases of dementia is estimated to more than triple by 2050. A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds. Worldwide, 7.7 million new cases are identified each year.*