Reader Poll: Who was your most memorable resident?

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“(Gerdy) was an 87-year-old retired grade school teacher. While her physical condition was weakened, her mind was sharp. She loved to play Scrabble and we would play several times a week. She always beat the pants off me! We talked about everything – politics, history, family, love and even religion. My own grandmother, whom I loved dearly, had died three years before and Gerdy helped fill that gap in my life for several years. Gerdy, while not a famous celebrity, nor a scientist that cured some serious disease, was responsible for shaping the minds and lives of over 2, 000 children young children over her long teaching career. In my mind, that is an accomplishment to be proud of... and she did take great pride in that fact!
While she never said it, I know I was filling a gap in her life as well.
I miss Gerdy to this day and thank God for the opportunity I had to talk with her, learn from her and even mourn for her.”

Executive Director, John Whitman, MBA, The TRECS Institute, North Wales, PA

“Many years ago, when I was just starting out in long-term care as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I had a resident that was paralyzed from the neck down. She always had a positive outlook. I had a small child, and she would always ask how he was and say that she wanted to see him. When I delivered him to the facility for a visit, she said, ‘Please just seat him on my chest and let me talk and play with him.' After I left the facility, I stayed in touch with her and she asked for me when she was dying. She was very grateful that she was in a facility that loved and cared for her.”
Director of Community Relations, Donna Ceasare, MBA, Deloach and Hofstra, Seminole, Florida

“I had a couple, both in their 90s, that lived with us for about six years. They had been married 62 years. He still did not like asking for help so we were all proactive in helping him so he would not feel like he had "burdened" us. Both of them had so many stories to tell us and we all learned things from them.  They were so sweet to each other. All of my staff loved them. Being in their company gave you a sense of peace and happiness. You knew they were genuine. He passed away while living with us and his wife left to be near her family. About three years ago, I went to visit. She was still sharp as a tack and so glad to see me. I have not had any contact since then, but if she was called home, it was OK because I know he was waiting for her. I was blessed to be part of their lives.”
Executive Director/Administrator, Anne Mortenson, Chesapeake Place Assisted Living, Chesapeake, Va

Our most memorable resident was Dorothy P. We celebrated her 100th birthday in May 2006 with her family.  Later in 2008, we celebrated her 102nd birthday with many friends from our church in our home.  She was an avid sports fan. During an Orange Bowl that went into triple overtime, she said she did not want to go to bed until the final play was completed. I was amazed at her passion for the game, and I found out that her late husband was the head football coach at Tulane University. She went home to be with the Lord a few years ago. Heaven is a sweeter place because of her.”
Owners, Gary and Susie Johnson, Yong Care Home, Lancaster, CA

“Each and every one of the residents has been memorable. I think of them often. How she loved to have her earrings on for breakfast. How he dreamed of camping in Wyoming. Her beautiful voice. Her love of running, lost to advancing multiple sclerosis. His dignity in facing a progressive disease. His dry sense of humor, so generously shared. I think of the family members I no longer get to talk with just as often. I often wonder if they realize that their family member was not just “one of many”, but an important member of our long term care community-woven into our hearts and the spirit of our home. I am often tempted to call a daughter, brother, or parent, just to say, “I want you to know I think of them too.”  I could fill a week with those calls.
Administrator, Marcia Brenowitz, North Star Community, Denver, CO

"I have been working in the facility for over 26 years. We have had some pretty well-known residents like a professional boxer, a person who was in a movie, and others, but two less famous individuals were most memorable to me professionally because they completed a circle of wellness, disability, and back to wellness again. As an occupational therapist, it was really a good feeling to see these people integrate back into life after a pretty bad situation and challenge that changed their lives. Both were an inspiration to many. 

The first was a spry 80-something-year-old that came to our facility to volunteer with a local group of senior dancing volunteers. I knew her well as she volunteered for many years and was a quite a dancer. One day she fell at home and had multiple lower extremity fractures and went through multiple surgeries. She required short-term rehabilitation and came to our sub-acute facility for rehab. She not only completed her therapy to return home but a few months later she was back at our facility dancing and performing for our residents. The best feeling of all was that all the therapists that worked with her were watching with pride as she performed her steps with ease. She was proud to show them how well she was doing.

The second person is also a volunteer at our facility, putting in a few days a week running programs. He's also in his 80s and has been with us for more than 15 years. One day he was gardening, fell and had a severe break of his leg, which required multiple surgeries and also required sub-acute rehab. He chose to come to our facility, Elant at Fishkill in Beacon, NY, for his therapy, as it was familiar for him. He was with us for a few weeks, then our therapists were able to provide his in-home therapy program. Once that was completed he came to our outpatient clinic once again with familiar therapists. He is now back volunteering at his prior level. Talk about the circle of life and a rehab revolution — this is what it is all about.” 
Corporate Rehabilitation Director Donna Frazier, OTR/L, Elant Inc., Beacon, NY

“Fannie was 102 years old and walked independently with a rolling walker throughout the facility. Unfortunately, one day she fell out of bed and broke her hip.
After a brief hospital stay, Fannie was readmitted to the SNF where she lived and was assessed by physical therapy. Fannie was doing very well in PT and was making gains daily. One day I was in the gym and saw Fannie struggling to pedal the small portable foot bike that was placed in front of her wheelchair. I said, ‘Fannie, what's wrong today, you look like you're having trouble doing the bike." Fannie replied, ‘If I was only 90, I would be able to do it.'
How funny that to her 90 was young. I hope we all feel that way when we're 90!!”

Director of Rehabilitation, Deirdre Stein, OTR/L, Parker Jewish Institute

An abbreviated version of this story appeared in the July 2011 issue of McKnight's Long-Term Care News.