Creating Regular Round-Table Discussions–with Maine Seniors Magazine!
I was delighted to speak with a lovely group of people from the Enclave of Scarborough Assisted Living and Memory Care. Amber Wilson shared with me how they copy articles each month from Maine Seniors Magazine and Maine Women Magazine then have “book club”-style meetings. After everyone has read the articles, they discuss the contents with enthusiasm. As Amber said, “We use your articles for reading circles and 1:1 activities, and we have even printed some off for the back of our residents’ schedules.”
We are pleased that this month’s focus of the “Meet the Subscribers” column have found a unique way to experience and enjoy the magazines. Here are some comments from seniors about what they like about them:
“The magazines look good, and are colorful, diverse, and full of beautiful stories!” —Priscilla Wieland
“I just love reading the stories about how far people have come in their lives and how they got started and what led them to where they are now and the person they’ve become. I find it all very intriguing, and each month there’s somebody interesting for me to learn more about someone’s life. I am a Veteran of WWII and thought the Cadet Nurse article from Maine Women Magazine was spot-on where they said, ‘their work was a vocation, not a profession.’” —Mary McGrath
“You get to see people like us older people doing great things with a continuation of what they did when they were young and applying it to their everyday life now. I especially liked the story about Johnny Mac. I enjoy stories about hardworking people in Maine.” —Joan Cropper
“Maine Seniors Magazine gives me inspiration and resources. There’s everything from gardening tips, to stories about people skydiving, to people going back to further their education and just getting out and meeting people. Just because you turn 50 and older doesn’t mean life stops. I like to read Maine Seniors Magazine with a glass of wine.” —Lucille Garland
National Activity Professionals (NAP)
The staff has recently celebrated National Activity Professionals (NAP) week. Reflecting on her career in this field, Amber said the staff are motivated to live by their facility’s foundational concepts: “Show Love. Serve with Purpose. Protect with Care. Exceed Expectations.”
COVID has made the work of people working in assisted living facilities far more difficult, but it has been a challenge they have met with creativity and dedication. To honor them and the important work they do, we would like to share several brief profiles. Thank you to the people of Enclave of Scarborough Assisted Living and Memory Care, and to others who work in this vital field and profession.
Mariah Goodson is Enclave of Scarborough’s Memory Care Lifestyles Associate. She resides in Sanford, Maine, with her beloved husband and two stepsons. The most influential person in Mariah’s life is her Mother, Julie, in that she has never met a more gifted, talented, stronghearted, loving, caring, dedicated individual. “She has been through so many struggles throughout the years, in which you would not ever know, and never once gave up hope and courage with any of it. She is the type of person to find the positive in the negative and will forever love you unconditionally.”
Mariah says that working as an activity’s professional has been one of the best life decisions she has made. Her biggest achievement so far is improving the standards of Enclave’s Memory Care calendar of events. Beginning as a care attendant, Mariah now works in multiple areas at the Enclave Senior community and even helps as a front desk concierge. Her favorite aspect of the job is being greeted each day with a great big smile from her residents, as well as the relationship she builds with her resident families. “Our residents’ families need to know their loved ones are okay, and well taken care of. I like to be the light in their everyday lives and wouldn’t want to spread my heart in any other way than with my residents.”
Working in Memory Care has given Mariah a new perspective on life. She acknowledged that “this population never chose this [Alzheimer’s] disease” and “how frightening it must be not knowing what will happen next.” She further explained that her residents need to know their lives are worth living in that every person’s memories has a story to tell. Her advice for those who work with individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s is to listen to them intently, experience what they are saying, take care of them in their moment, and love them for who they are. “Loving and caring for someone with dementia and having them connect with you is the most rewarding part of all,” said Mariah.
Randi Gonneville is the Lifestyles Associate for Enclave of Scarborough’s Assisted Living program. She was born in Portland, Maine, and lives in Biddeford. She has lived in Maine her whole life and absolutely loves this state. Her family means the world to her and she said her sister, Lauren, is her absolute best friend. “My family is my happy place, and any time with them is treasured,” said Randi. Her “Memere” is “her hero”—the strongest, hardest-working person she knows.
When COVID put a halt on Enclaves group activities, Randiwanted to find a way to reach all of her residents in a positive way, so she went to work placing together a bag of goodies for them. The bags consisted of everything from lotion, a deck of cards, smiley face stress balls, word search books, coloring pages and crayons, to talking prayer bears. These gifts helped to lift everyone’s spirits in a dark time in the world. Of her residents, Randi said, “Hearing their life stories is icing on the cake because their generation lived so differently than the world we live in now. They have really done some amazing things in their years on earth.”
She shared important words that she lives by: “Blowing out somebody else’s candle does not make yours burn brighter. People need to help each other, lift each other up, and provide support when needed. Now more than ever before.”
Georgia Swain is the Memory Care Director at the Enclave of Scarborough and has worked in Assisted Living for over a decade, most of this experience has been with memory care residents. Georgia lost her grandmother—an important role model to her—to Alzheimer’s, so she has seen both side of Alzheimer’s disease from the family perspective, and as a caregiver. Georgia has two children who are her world and says she would not be who she is without them. And one of the many blessings in Georgia’s life is her dog, Cricket, who has added a lot of joy to the lives of her residents with frequent visits during the pandemic.
She was part of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Committee and learned a great deal while making some amazing connections with other people involved. What she loves most about working at the Enclave is, “the love of the residents, learning from them every day, and the hard working and compassionate associates.”
A project Georgia implemented at the Enclave was her “Zen Den” oasis room, which is complete with a backdrop scenic waterfall, a fish tank, peaceful tapestries, comfortable furniture, and an essential oil diffuser to help residents relax and rejuvenate. Georgia said that in her work, she reminds herself and others, to “Take your time.”
Amber Wilson is the Senior Lifestyles Director for Bridge Senior Living and Lifestyles Director for the Enclave of Scarborough. She has lived in Southern Maine since year 2000 and is celebrating 20 years this year working with seniors. One of her claims to fame is when she helped a “91-year-young” woman fulfill her dream of flying an airplane. She has helped facilitate many more dream experiences to come true for her seniors and even helped “send a resident to the moon” with the help of a NASA retiree.
Amber said her favorite aspect of being an Activities Director is helping her residents regain their sense of purpose and reach new goals at this later stage of their life. As she put it, “Being an Activities Director means I get to celebrate seniors as often as I can by learning their life story and connect them with their neighbors and local community, even during a pandemic. I love being an event planner and am able to come up with outside-the-box ideas to enrich the lives of many people, residents, and associates.” Amber was most recently awarded the 2020 Excellence in Long Term Care Award from Maine Health Care Association for her years of service, dedication, and unwavering creativity.
Amber is also certified in Usui Reiki, Chair Chi, and Korean Yoga. She identifies her spirituality as Pagan, and said that sharing this fact has helped her to see how others “came to life” when they simply embraced who they were. She emphasized, “How proud people should be of their culture, religion and roots.”
Her role model growing up was her grandfather “Popo.” She is looking forward to her upcoming wedding in June.