Beulah, who lives in our Fontana home, is Care Haven Homes’ oldest resident. Last Valentine’s Day, we were privileged to help celebrate her 105th birthday.
The whole county got behind us! The Best Times magazine ran a feature on the birthday girl. The Johnson County Board of Commissioners issued a Certificate of Special Commendation; Chairman Ed Eilert and Commissioner Jason Osterhaus presented it at Beulah’s party.
From the article:
Beulah Montgomery Janssen was born just in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day 1913.
Elsewhere, suffragettes marched. Woodrow Wilson practiced his inaugural address. Henry Ford tinkered with the first moving assembly line. Fellow newborns Rosa Parks, Jimmy Hoffa and Mary Leakey napped.
Leakey would go on to discover the earliest human footprints. Most footprints young Beulah saw blew away. She came of age in north central Kansas during what she called “the Dirty Thirties:” the Dust Bowl Era.
Beulah Montgomery was born in a farmhouse near Covert, Kansas – now a ghost town. . . .
READ Beulah’s story, from her ornery youth, to a courting as a “flirty hasher,” to family life without indoor plumbing on the farms and oilfields of northwestern Kansas. See page 10 of The Best Times’ March-April 2018 issue for the rest of the story.
Prairie Village, KS, January 19, 2017: Care Haven Homes, LLC (“Care Haven”) has opened its sixth Alzheimer’s care home, near I-435 and Roe Boulevard. The house is designed to create a safe, comforting community for up to eight people living with dementia.
Locally owned Care Haven opened its first Alzheimer’s care home in 2005. According to Neil Barnett, company founder, it had just five beds. With the opening of its sixth home, Care Haven’s houses are licensed to care for a total of 49 residents.
“I began learning about Alzheimer’s when my grandmother was diagnosed,” said Barnett. “That was more than 40 years ago. I discovered first hand that dementia is more than memory loss. Its physical, psychological, emotional and behavioral challenges demand special, round-the-clock care. Extra training, compassion and staffing are critical. Flexible routines, personal attention and a calm, secure environment are key. I’m pleased we can offer all that to the growing number of families looking for care.”
The demand for dementia care is increasing, locally and nationally. Barnett cited recent statistics from The Alzheimer’s Association1, 2 :
Care Haven’s sixth home is in one of Overland Park’s quiet residential neighborhoods. The company acquired the ranch-style house in late 2015. Extensive remodeling took nearly a year to complete. The house features eight private bedrooms. Residents share a family-style setting, assisted by professional caregiving and nursing staffs.
About the Company: Care Haven operates four Alzheimer’s care homes in Overland Park, KS and two in Leawood, KS. Its headquarters are in Prairie Village, KS. The company has 65 employees. Neil Barnett has been Care Haven’s Owner/Operator since its founding, in 2004. Barnett is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.
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For more information, contact:
Neil Barnett, Owner/Operator, Care Haven Homes
About Home Plus: Each Care Haven home operates as a “Home Plus,” licensed by The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. A Home Plus cares for up to 12 residents who need help managing all areas of everyday life.3 Twenty licensed Home Plus facilities currently provide memory care in Johnson County, KS.4
About remodeling a house for use as an Alzheimer’s care home:
Overview of different senior living options:
Links to Sources of Background Information:
1 “What is Dementia?”” Alzheimer’s Association, 2017. Web. 8 Jan 2017.
2 “2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia. Chicago: Alzheimer’s Association, 2016:12(4). Web. 8 Jan 2017.
3 Kansas Survey, Certification and Credentialing Commission. Statutes and Regulations for Licensure and Operation of Home Plus Facilities. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, 2013. Web. 8 Jan 2017.
4 Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Kansas Adult Care Provider Directory: Home Plus Providers. Web. 8 Jan 2017.
Families always ask us what Mom or Dad would most enjoy as a holiday gift.
We have our favorites. For this post, we sought the advice of other seasoned caregivers, too. Here are the gifts we suggest for people with Alzheimer’s. (You’ll find most also are great for other older adults.)
Our experts all recommend gifts that look, taste, smell, sound or feel good.
Most people love the aroma of fresh-baked cookies or the relief of soothing lotion.
Someone with Alzheimer’s is especially sensitive to stimulation. A favorite song, fragrance or fabric stirs more memories and feelings than conversation.
Think of your loved ones’ happiest days. Were they spent resting on a soft picnic blanket, or bundled in Grandma’s afghan? Smiling with grandchildren? Sucking on a butterscotch candy, or sipping a favorite tea? What music and scents wafted through the air?
Bring back these sensations to brighten a long, grey day.
From Expert #1: Deonisia Hernandez
House Manager & Caregiver
Care Haven Homes’ Broadmoor house
People of all ages love lots of little holiday surprises. Bring a small treat every time you visit. Share favorite candies or cookies. Give a mini bottle of lotion, and then massage Mom’s hands. Leave her with a new tube of lip balm, non-skid slipper socks or a pair of warm gloves.
(“Nonskid” is essential. If socks are too bulky to wear with shoes, be sure they have a gripping surface on the bottom of the foot.)
From Expert #2: Sharon Springer
Care Haven Homes
Make Mom and Dad FEEL good. Give soft, flannel pillowcases and fuzzy blankets.
It’s a great time for fun flavors, too. Give a holiday pack of Lifesavers or flavored lip balm. Don’t forget that crowd favorite: the popcorn gift tin.
(But don’t leave a big basket of fruit, jellies or other “spoilables” in your loved ones’ room. Bring just enough for the two of you to share during your visit. OR plan to share with other residents and caregivers. OR ask a caregiver to store the “leftovers.”)
From Expert #3: Teresa Borger
Spectrum Home Health
Create a calendar filled with family pictures from your loved one’s past. Hang it in their personal space, in clear view. There are lots of scrapbooking products and online services from which to choose. Look for a seasonal special.
Hint: If you don’t complete your calendar in time, make it a New Year’s gift. Ask friends and family to bring photos to seasonal gatherings. Have them scan and send high-resolution copies of their favorites. Once you’ve fulfilled your holiday obligations, use your “down time” to finish.
(We’ll add a special request here: Please fill in birthdays, anniversaries and other important family milestones or events. These make great conversation starters for caregivers and visitors.)
Be careful as you stir memories and emotions. Not all are happy. Do your best to make Mom and Dad feel good right now. Distract them from unhappy thoughts by introducing pleasant new sights, smells, tastes and sounds.
From Expert #4: Karen Clond, LMSW
Dementia Care Specialist
Heart of America Alzheimer’s Association
I’m a huge fan of an amaryllis bulb in a pot. Watch it grow and flower during the dreary winter months. (You can force other spring bulbs to bloom, but the amaryllis gives a fantastic show.)
From Expert #5: Linda Harmon
A soft stuffed animal is very comforting. I once worked with a cat lover who no longer had a pet. Her family’s gift of a FurReal kitty, which purred and moved its head, was a huge hit. Mom spent much of her day calmly petting her feline friend!
While that cat lover wasn’t a bird lover, many people are. Consider buying and installing a bird feeder just outside a window. (If Mom is living in a home other than yours, be sure to consult with her caregivers first – bird seed can be hard on grass and landscaping. Please volunteer to take charge of refilling the feeder, too!)
I’d also suggest a digital photo frame loaded with lots of pictures of family and friends, set to change images every several seconds.
From Expert #6: Michael Fleming
Son of a former Care Haven Homes resident
You can’t go wrong with warm, non-skid socks and full slippers for Mom or Dad. Give long sleeve mock turtlenecks to the ladies and flannel shirts to Dad!
(Mike shows he’s an expert when he specifies “full slippers.” Avoid any mule-style, backless slippers. They might slip off while Mom or Dad walks, causing a fall.)
From Expert #7: Jane Knapp
Daughter of a former Care Haven Homes resident
Dad loved the cuddly blanket Jeannine recommended – sheepskin on one side and velveteen on the other. He enjoyed getting new pajamas, too.
He appreciated the way specially designed clothes, like shirts and pants for the wheelchair-bound, made life more comfortable. We even found a winter cape that was fantastic for outings.
Dad loved popcorn, diet soda pop and cookies. He was thrilled to get a new video or a personalized calendar with pictures of his kids and grandkids.
The absolute best gift anyone can give is time. Your loved one appreciates that more than anything else. I often saw sullen residents turn joyful with the arrival of a family member.
Jane makes a good point. Winter days often seem long and lonely. Things get interesting as soon as visitors appear.
Give your loved one 20 to 60 minutes of your undivided attention. Pledge to stay calm and relaxed, no matter what happens. Join them in their moment, just as they are today.
From Expert #8: Deborah Garnett, RN, PhD
Daughter of a current Care Haven Homes resident
Keep it small and simple. Instead of a big Christmas gift, I “treat” Mom to fun times spent with family.
There are so many ways to give the gift of a better visit:
Whatever present you bring, deliver it with the gift of a quiet visit. Go by yourself or in a group of two or three. Prepare to leave whenever your loved one seems tired, overwhelmed or agitated.
Be sure everyone is healthy. DON’T bring the “gift” of a cold or flu to seniors, whose immune systems are much weaker than yours.
DO consider sharing a toddler’s infectious giggles and smiles with Mom or Dad. Many older adults love seeing babies and young children. Stay awhile if your little one is happily engaged. Bring your visit to a close as soon as she – or Mom – is ready for a nap.
(You’ll find more tips in the articles linked at the bottom of this post.)
From Expert #9: Caroll Oliver
Patient Care Coordinator
Great Lakes Caring
Take Mom or Dad on a fun outing. For example, I take my mom to lunch. Then we get a manicure or pedicure together.
From Expert #10: Nori Nakamura
Spending time together is a beautiful thing. Take your loved one to a restaurant or Christmas concert, or for a car ride to see Christmas lights. They may not remember the details later, but the positive mood you create lasts long after the event.
(Just be careful while you’re out and about. Check out our 5 winter safety tips, so everyone returns home safe and sound.)
From Expert #11: Caroline Dawson
Agewise Advocacy & Consulting
During this over-stimulating season, comfort is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones. Over-stimulated leads to OVERWHELMED, and they need your help to avoid growing tired, agitated and confused.
Give yourself permission to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Aim to spend time together in calm one-on-one moments or small group gatherings, rather than in an overwhelming celebration. Adjust your expectations – and those of family and friends.
Alzheimer’s is a journey. As you plan gifts, visits or outings, prepare to meet your loved one wherever the road has taken them. Use the past as a guide, but look for clues that they may need or prefer something new.
From Expert #12: Jeanne Reeder
For people in the early stages of dementia:
Give anything that enhances or jogs their memory
Help with everyday tasks
Keep them engaged (see Expert 8 above, too)
Concentrate on stimulating the senses as your loved one moves to the middle or late stages (See Experts 1, 2, 6 and 7 above for ideas)
We’ll add one of our favorite holiday suggestions here, for anyone with dementia – but especially for those in the early stages. Help Mom and Dad share their most valuable gifts: talents, recipes, traditions, family history. Show your respect and delight as these treasures are being passed on to you. For example, when you look at old photos together, listen as Mom names the stranger no one else remembers – and tells their story. Thank her for passing on these memories.
A family caregiver values time, respite and companionship – on their terms.
Deliver a meal once a month. Stay to visit while you share it.
Give a gift certificate for professional services – or a homemade coupon if you’re willing and able – to
Consider gift certificates that help the caregiver enjoy their respite
Support them no matter how they choose to spend their time off: perusing an art gallery, catching up on their knitting, enjoying a cup of coffee, attending a support group meeting.
Don’t forget: even little splurges brighten a family caregiver’s difficult days. A box of special teas says you’re thinking of her as she sips her afternoon cup. A luxurious hand cream brings welcome relief to chapped hands as she washes them yet again. Flameless candles add ambiance without raising any safety concerns.
To sum up, don’t stress over dates and deadlines this season. People with Alzheimer’s – and their family caregivers – needn’t be tightly tethered to the holiday calendar.
Something Nori Nakamura said bears repeating. Your loved one
“may not remember the details later, but the positive mood you create lasts long after. . . .”
Don’t worry about presenting the perfect gift on the date you’ve always celebrated. Choose the day you can relax and enjoy together. Ask your loved one’s caregivers if they’re most content and alert at a particular time of day. Check for the quiet times, when other residents and activities won’t distract.
Then, as Caroline Dawson suggests,
“Spread the Joy!”
Enjoy simply being together. When you leave, know that you’ve given Mom or Dad a sense that all is well. That’s a comforting feeling that will last for days to come.
Resources from other sites, to help with this season’s visits
The seasons of smiling and snapping are upon us. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve – family and friends gather with cameras.
Each generation presents its challenges. Toddlers speed out of the frame. Teens who beam for selfies frown darkly at a parent’s lens.
Our beloved grandfather and great aunt can be uncooperative, too. Especially if past portraits have been less than flattering.
With a little luck and planning, photographing older adults creates treasured family heirlooms. Try these 10 tips for making the silver-haired members of your clan shine. (They’ll make your other photos sparkle, too!)
Remember the first year you lived away from home? When you returned for the holidays, you hoped everyone would notice you’d changed.
Don’t try to recreate scenes from the past. Let go of the memories or abilities Mom has lost, or the traditions she’d prefer to forget. You won’t capture her smile after a chorus of “You forgot to wear your holiday sweater!” or “Not making your apple pie?”
Before you raise the camera, take a good look at who Mom is today. How does she spend her days? Does she have new friends or hobbies? What makes her smile? If you want a good picture, focus on that.
Ask her to model her outrageous Red Hat Society garb. Admire her newfound talent for painting. Snap a shot as she spoils her dog or gets silly with the grandchildren.
We often rush into picture taking, especially during the holidays. We race to line everyone up before anyone gets away. We wonder why we end up with a shot full of squints, wiggles and grimaces.
Like an athlete, you need to warm up before photographing older adults. Join Mom in setting the table, filling the bird feeders, or putting together a puzzle. Keep the conversation light. Watch for a smile.
THEN it’s time to get out the camera.
We’re tempted to get EVERYTHING in the picture: the people – table setting – holiday decorations – snow on the ground outside.
That usually makes for a bad picture.
Focus on one subject in each photo. If you hope to capture many people or things, take lots of carefully focused photos.
Your subject should fill the frame. If you want to capture Mom’s smile, concentrate on her face. If you want to show off her pretty blouse, picture her from head to hip. Reading to her grandchildren? Sneak in till you’ve framed just this intimate little group.
Worried that she’ll feel uncomfortable when you’re so close? That’s what your adjustable lens is for! Stand back and zoom in.
A director sets the stage to fasten attention on one actor or small group. He removes all distractions.
Make sure Mom plays the featured role in your photo, too. Check the background.
“I want to be in an ambush photo on the front page of a tabloid,” said no one ever.
Avoid the unflattering shot. Paraphrasing the Golden Rule, take pictures of others that you would have them take of you.
It may or may not be okay to take a picture of Mom misty-eyed, or in a bad mood. But if she’s always taken pride in her appearance, is it okay to photograph her with smeared lipstick? With spaghetti sauce spattering her blouse?
Be kind. Honor her spirit. See that she looks her best.
Like the rest of us, some seniors are hams. Others freeze up when formally posed.
If Mom always flashes a fabulous smile, by all means snap away. Otherwise, catch her in action, doing whatever makes her happy.
Frame a picture worth taking. Focus in on the smile she exchanges with her grandbaby. Zoom in to show her absorbed in a book or puzzle. Capture her far-away gaze at the bird feeder, or her glee at joining in the sing-along with a tambourine.
Photography is the capture of light on film or in digital memory. You can’t take a good picture in the wrong light. Too little and you’ll have a dark, dull blur. Too much washes away color and details.
Remember that strong light highlights every blemish, bald spot and wrinkle. It casts dark shadows. Handled correctly, this creates a distinctive portrait. More often, the results are downright scary. As an amateur photographer, it’s better to start with soft lighting.
When outdoors, avoid the fierce mid-day sun. Take photos in early morning or evening, when light isn’t glaring from overhead. If you have an early afternoon event, take your pictures under an overhang or in light shade.
Indoors, during the day, open the blinds and let the light shine in on Mom’s face.
WARNING: Don’t use a window as Mom’s backdrop. A camera adjusts for the light behind her. If it’s bright outside, Mom’s image will turn into a dark shadow.
At night or on dark days, you’ll need to add lots of light. Avoid harsh overhead lighting, especially fluorescent fixtures that give your photos a green hue. Use plenty of soft lamps. If you can, adjust a desk lamp so it bounces light up, off the ceiling and onto your subject.
A note about taking action shots in low light: Use your flash. Stay close enough to light everything in the frame. Steady yourself, then take a deep breath and hold it until you get the shot. When it’s dark, the camera lens stays open longer to capture enough light to make a picture. If Mom moves or your hand shakes, the lens will capture that, too – with a blur.
Long ago, a photographer had to choose between color or black and white film. Today’s digital cameras can shoot in either. Editing programs let us keep changing the colors long after we shoot. Look at your photos in both.
Colors create a mood, make a statement or express someone’s personality. Aunt Mabel shows her spunk as she embarks on a morning walk in shiny purple warm-up suit and silver sneakers.
A monochromatic scheme focuses our attention on shapes and lighting. If too many colors draw your eye away from what’s most important, then consider black and white. Keep in mind, though, that the most appealing black and white pictures are not grey. They feature a strong contrast between light and dark spaces.
It’s fun to experiment with colors and filters. Don’t, however, take bad pictures and expect to save them with photo editing.
In the beginning, concentrate on getting the lighting and framing right. That produces a much sharper photo than one relying on heavy cropping and enhancement.
Another advantage of digital photography is that you can experiment for free. Take lots of shots, quickly. Take even more shots when you’re shooting action or a group of people. A surprising number are ruined when someone blinks or leans out of the frame.
Move fast, especially if you’re asking someone to pose. Irritated, tired or bored subjects stop smiling.
Of course, friends who have to look through a lot of bad pictures stop smiling, too. Choose only your best photos and edit before sharing. Delete the rest.
NOTES ON SHARING:
Be sure your photos are shareable. If a friend likes a quick look at lots of pics, “optimize” them, shrinking before sending. If she wants to print your photos, be sure to send them “Actual Size.” Send just one large image at a time to get through most spam filters.
It’s important to get permission before sharing a person’s image. It’s especially important when photographing older adults in health care or senior living settings. Privacy laws such as HIPPA may apply. If a person has dementia or can’t make decisions for themselves, get approval from someone with legal authority to speak for them. If you’re not a close friend or family member, get permission from the operator of the health care or senior living facility, too.