Kay Shanks, resident

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be devastating. As we struggled with what that meant to our lives now, it was not easy, but as we looked ahead, the prospects could look even more frightening. As Roger could do less and less of the things he had always done with such ease to make our family function smoothly, we began to look ahead and face the problems head on.

A move to Meadowlark Hills became the answer for us. We would move into the main building, where most of the activities took place, hoping that would perhaps at least delay the tendency to wander and lose one's way that often happens to folks with dementia. A secondary perk for living in the main building began to be realized as other residents and staff were alert to any confusion by Roger and would tell him, “Kay said to just find a comfy chair and she’ll find you.” I’m reminded of the TV show “Cheers” and their theme, “a place where everyone knows your name.” Here at Meadowlark Hills, folks do know your name – often they can’t remember it but the fact remains we know each other even if the name can’t always be recalled on the spot. For me, we’re a family. Meadowlark Hills is home.

There are so many activities offered that it is often impossible to decide which one wants to take advantage of. Roger loves playing games with other residents, attending Vespers, the Dementia Memory Group, Coffee Corner and ice cream on Wednesdays, and the entertainment programs offered at least once a week if not more. Oh yes, and Bingo. All of these also give his chief caregiver time for herself, to catch her breath or take advantage of activities she enjoys such as watching a movie in Grosh Cinema, having a drink and visit in the Pub, serving on a committee or meditating in the Tranquility Room.

The last Blue Cross Seniority mailing had an article, “Be young in mind and body,” which suggested that if you want to stay young, choose a role model. Meadowlark Hills is just full of excellent role models. A 101 year-old who attends every program, is a regular at the domino game table, comes to get her morning coffee in her bright red flowered robe, and is still fit as a fiddle physically, is one of my role models.

Or how about the over 90 year-old that helped organize and pull off the last clothing drive that yielded 509 pounds of clothes donated to Good Will. Not to mention that she is extremely beautiful in many ways and could pass for 70 easily. Lest you think I’m saying it’s only females that continue vital living here at Meadowlark Hills, you will also find a recently turned 100 year-old gentleman walking with only a cane for assistance who has a ready smile, a loving heart and a willingness to share a conversation with fellow residents. Roger is also a role model as he says his goal in life is to enjoy every day and live in the moment. Even when he can’t tell me a thing he’s done all day, when asked he still says, “I have a good feeling about my day.”

Our kids weren’t sure their parents were ready to move to a retirement center, but have now changed their minds. Roger and I plan to have one more move in our life on earth and that is out of Meadowlark Hills in an urn. In case our plan doesn’t work, it is reassuring to know that assisted living and healthcare moves are there if we need them. Our kids are also comforted by the availability of those kinds of services should their parents need it.

Our daughter says not to forget that the place looks so classy and the art work is out of this world. The place is kept so clean and nice smelling. This is thanks to housekeeping, maintenance and the grounds crew. Roger tells everyone who asks and some who don’t, “I haven’t mowed the lawn or shoveled snow or climbed a ladder since we moved to Meadowlark Hills."