Care Conversion

Resident’s stay modified as needs evolve.

Howard and Molly Waddell were working at the same facility for the developmentally disabled when they met. The two Upstate New York natives fell in love and married and have been together for more than 40 years.
For years, Molly and Howard traveled to Florida as snowbirds. One day about four years ago, long after both had retired, Molly bought a place here that became the couple’s permanent home. Shortly thereafter, caring for Howard became a chore for Molly.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Molly and Howard, a World War II vet, share a relaxing moment in front of the memory quilt.

“Howard’s now ninety-two, and he has Alzheimer’s disease,” states Molly. “At one point, he started becoming weak and frail, and it was difficult for me to take care of him. I realized I needed some help.
“A friend mentioned a place a while ago, but I didn’t think anything of it then because I didn’t need the help at that time. When I did need it, I went online, looked up senior daycare, and three places came up.
“One was a private residence, but when I drove by it, I thought, I don’t want him there. The second one I couldn’t find, even with my GPS. The third place was Grace Manor, which was the place my friend had recommended to me earlier.”
Grace Manor is an assisted living and memory care community that provides specialized care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. When Molly toured Grace Manor, she was pleased with what she saw, so she began bringing Howard for daycare.
“I went in and the woman who greeted me was wonderful,” Molly recalls. “She gave me a tour, including the kitchen, which was spotless. My background is in food service. The staff was very friendly, and there was no pressure; it was very comfortable. The residents were in the big room doing activities. I liked Grace Manor. It was small, clean and had no odors.
“After that, I began taking Howard to Grace Manor a few hours a week. They provided good care, and Howard liked it there. But then he stopped eating and became even more frail.
“I was afraid he’d fall, and if he did, I was afraid I’d never get him back up. I was also afraid I’d be helping him and that I’d go down, too. I figured Grace Manor was the best place for Howard to be, so in July, I placed him there full-time.”
As Howard’s needs changed, he was able to convert from a day stay resident to a permanent resident of Grace Manor. To help ease the transition, Molly was asked to limit her visits for a few weeks so Howard could get used to being at Grace Manor full time. She took the opportunity to travel to New York to visit friends and family.
“When I first got back from up North, Howard kept asking me, When am I going home?” relates Molly. “I said, Howard, I can’t do it right now. After a while, he stopped asking me about going home, and I visit him almost every day.
“Now, Howard’s fine at Grace Manor. The residents and staff usually start playing Bingo about the time I leave, so Howard is happy. He likes Bingo and the other activities they do, like listening to music. Everybody at Grace Manor loves him. Even the ladies love him. He’s very loveable. He’s a former Methodist minister.”
Molly is also impressed by the facilities at Grace Manor and the way the residents are treated by the staff. She knows Howard appreciates having his own suite as well as the freedom to choose the activities he wants to do and when he wants to do them.
“I like that every room is a private room,” she describes. “They say the rooms are shared, but they only share the bathrooms, so that makes it nice for the residents. Howard has his privacy. He can go into his room and watch TV or take a nap anytime he wants.
“There’s also no pressure. Residents can do what they feel like doing at that time. They’re not herded into an activity like cattle with someone saying, You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that. It’s up to them what they want to do.”
Since becoming a full-time resident, Howard has been thriving at Grace Manor, where a team of specially trained resident assistants is dedicated to caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Specialized Care

Those team members use methods to align themselves with whatever the resident is experiencing in the moment. The goal is to help the resident struggling with the effects of dementia to feel reassured, calm and not so alone.
“Grace Manor is a step between the resident’s family home and a full-time nursing facility,” describes Danielle Ashby, president of Grace Manor. “We’re here for individuals with memory issues who need specialized care and can no longer be at home. We provide the caring assistance they require so they can live as independently as possible.”
Grace Manor also has a life-enrichment program for its memory care residents. The program offers specific activities that cater to those with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. As part of the program, the staff works with residents on a variety of sensory activities.
“A roster of activities at Grace Manor encourages residents to participate and have fun,” says Danielle. “They include outings for lunch and community events. Other ongoing activities include exercise classes and reminiscence therapy.”
A personal touch for residents with memory issues is the shadow boxes they have displayed outside their suites. The memory boxes are filled with photos and mementos that have personal significance for the resident. For residents with memory impairments, the boxes also help them locate their suites.
The memory boxes not only help the residents, they also give the staff a wider perspective about the people they are caring for.
“The memory boxes let the staff know that at one time the resident was a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer, a very important mother to young children,” notes Danielle. “We want to remember to see them as more than just our residents. The staff gets a little bit of insight about who they are and the things they accomplished when they were younger.
“We ask the family to post or provide pictures of the residents and their family members. We have a lot of people with wedding photos and pictures of their kids. It’s a memory box, so people include the things that mean something to them. One man has a medal from his time in the Army in his.”
Molly agrees that memories matter.

The Memory Quilt

“The community relations director found out I was a quilter and asked me if my group of ladies could make a quilt for them, as she wanted to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association,” notes Molly. “It’s a beautiful queen-size quilt, and they have it hanging on the wall at Grace Manor while they sell the tickets for the raffle.” All proceeds are going to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Molly visits Howard almost every day at Grace Manor and says he is adjusting well there. In the spirit of her quilting group, which calls itself Friends of Grace Manor, Molly has nothing but good things to say about the memory care community.
“I’m really impressed with Grace Manor,” she comments. “It’s a small facility, which makes for a better community. The staff is fantastic, and the residents get really good care there. I absolutely recommend Grace Manor Port Orange.
It’s a wonderful place.”

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