Why Safe Haven Senior Family Home is so important to us.

They gave so much in their life time and deserved just as much in their passing. Below is a little bit about Miriam, Rubye, Florence, Don, Eileen and and my mother Addie Williams, six wonderful people who have touched our lives. Plus what we learned from all of them, which teaches us of what is so important to do for our seniors, which is our goal to do in so many ways.

Dedicated to Miriam. Her story and now ours.

Miriam Sarver came to us on March 23rd from Mississippi when she was 94. She was such a loving, kind and compassionate resident and always full of smiles and laughter. She was never interested in watching TV, but preferred playing games, doing crafts and making up jokes and play on words. She adored her new home and told us she wanted to write a book about Safe Haven Senior Family Home and title it “Utopia”.

She loved parties, and we had them often for her. If there was a reason to celebrate, we would throw a party. This picture of her is one of many that we took at the Halloween party. She loved it.

Sadly she died at 95 years old in February, with Katie and her caregiver beside her singing her favorite hymns. We think about her every day and miss her deeply. She brought so much to our lives, and each day was special because she loved life so much and was excited to start each morning with new things to do. We miss you so much Miriam.

Dedicated to Rubye. Her story and now ours.

Our sweet Rubye came to Safe Haven Senior Family Home, June 24th, 2013, and was with us until her death, May 28th 2014. She brought so much to us while here. Her positive attitude, her humor, her love and laughter will always linger with us. She was 98 years old when she died, but we were so lucky to have her through all the holidays, and her birthday, her past memories, her favorite things, and sadly, even her death.

She loved animals so very much, and due to this, we got her a puppy, and she named it Mickie. They were constant companions, and shared so much together. She also shared so much with us, was always so gracious, loving and kind. My heart will always skip a beat when I think of her. Jim and I became very close to her, and loved her so very much. She brought so much joy and happiness to our life.

Rubye was so special to all that loved her, and taught us so very much about life, love, humor, wisdom, character, understanding, compassion and so much more. She became our family forever.

She will be so missed. Everything about life now, reminds us of Rubye. And I am glad it does.

Dedicated to Florence. Her story and now ours.

The story of Florence is very deep to our soul, and cannot at this time express in short words of what she meant to us in so many ways. Florence was 76 years old when she died with her family beside her. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 6 years ago. We were able to enjoy 9 months with her, and loved her so deeply. Hopefully the poem below will give an idea of who she was.

IN LOVE and MEMORY OF FLORENCE

Today, I watched her eyes while I prepared in my heart that she would die,
With comfort she so deserved, and with dedicated respect for her.
It still broke my heart and I feel apart, and cried more tears than intended
I reach for things that she loved to keep me sane,
Yet things will never be the same with her gone. Ever!

She was our sweetie, she was our love
Now she gets the gift from the higher above.
The gift needing and meeting a glorious end.

A dream she is all better, a positive thought
of her time of dying gently was brought.
Not just to her dying, but teaching us well,
That death can be beautiful
To remind us of what biblical scriptures are hoping to tell.

While she was with us, mumbling abound, she spoke so loud
Yet, we could not understand. Then time gave us
Understanding, and words she needed to tell.
The words could be read in her eyes
I think her eyes spoke the words so well.

Now she has left us, and families unite,
The comforts of hugs and love, and laughter can help.
She became our family, the day she stepped in
And united with history, all the families within.
Her legacy is so bold, and touched so many souls.

I will miss you dear friend
Until the end of me
And will think and be thankful of the many things you taught me
I will be ever grateful of what you placed in so many ways before me,
And to reap the gifts of what you specially gave me.

Florence, our new angel with such broad wings..
Thank you. You certainly made a difference in our and so many other lives.
Your soul of your leaving left many feeling numb in life tracks,
Yet smiles were greeted as we spoke of you.
Memories of you, will always stay new.

Dedicated to Don. His story and now ours.


Don came to us in Feb. 2011, and died in 2012 due to kidney failure after a bout with a flu bug. We loved him dearly, and came to love not just him, but his family as well, and he will always be missed.

Afflicted with the late stages of Alzheimer’s, he was a special man, and taught us so much. Hours upon hours were spent on research so that we could understand him better, and meet his needs of not just daily care, but love, understanding, respect and aging in place. Our entire home was set up for him and his needs, to include security cameras in case we were not in the room with him, we wanted to make sure we could always see or hear him. These cameras were also in his room at night, that had excellent infra-red abilities, and voice abilities. He was never alone, and if he needed us, we could get to him right away, regardless of what time of the day or night it was. He was in his own right was crowned the King of our home.

He taught us so much without him knowing this. He taught us special love and consideration, and understanding those afflicted with dementia or AD. He always brought smiles to us, and we were always eager to wake each day, just to care for him. He will always be so missed in our life, and we will never forget what he brought to us in his own unique way. We love you Don. What you taught us, even without you knowing this, will help us care for other elders that need the love and care we gave to you. Thank you.

Dedicated To Eileen Martin. Her story and now ours.

My sister was Eileen’s trustee, and needed help as Eileen’s health was failing. I quickly asked her how I could help and she responded that she needed me to move back to Huntsville (I was living in Georgia at the time). Eileen was in a nursing home and was not getting the care she needed. My sister planned to purchase a home for Eileen to live in, so that Eileen could live the rest of her days in peace, with dignity and within the comfort of love.

I had no idea what I was walking into, but I jumped in with both feet. When I got to Huntsville, my first assignment was to visit Eileen in the nursing home daily. My sister was right. Eileen was not getting the care she needed at all, and I was anxious to get her in a home where she would be better taken care of. Eileen was 90 years old, suffered with UTI’s, had extensive vision and hearing loss and was wheelchair bound.

Before we could get her to her new home, she became very ill with a UTI. The doctor told my sister that she did not expect Eileen to survive a week, that setting up a home for her was unreasonable, and recommended she be put her in a hospice program which she was, and we still continued with a new home outside the nursing home for her. Well, Eileen lived 6 months longer, and I do believe it had a great deal to do with our care, love, compassion and total dedication to her.

When Eileen came home, she was bedridden for about 2 weeks. We provided her with round the clock care, talking to her, encouraging her, feeding her meals in bed and providing daily therapy in love, care and encouragement. Within two weeks, she was out of the bed, able to stand, communicate and do physical therapy that hospice taught one of the caregivers. Eventually, within a month, she was able to finally, with just one person assisting, get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and enjoy the last six months of her life.

I feel a lot of this had to do with myself and my husband Jim (who was her midnight shift caregiver, and I think her best friend). We took the time to research her health issues, her needs, her best diet, and with the love and encouragement the team provided her, her life and living became important to her.

Eileen was a private person and did have some behavioral problems. With that in mind, we all eagerly learned what to tell the hospice nurse about these concerns, as well as researched this, and worked together as a team on what was best and how to direct the needs to care for Eileen, and the best way to accomplish this. We also learned how to keep the best records and trained our staff on things they needed to look out for and to report that we all needed to know, regardless of how immaterial it might seem at any given point.

By doing this, we developed and maintained records of her care and progress which included:

1. A daily journal of the caregivers and their shift hours. They recorded the number of hours she slept, what she ate and drank (and how much,) when she urinated or had a bowel movement, what time her medications were given and if she suffer any confusion during the day. They also did a great job of noting their own feelings about what was going on with Eileen and that was always shared material with all caregivers in written and oral form.

2. A daily medical chart was kept on Eileen at all times. It did not matter if it was over the counter medication or a prescription from her doctor. All details of time and type of medication were given and why, were written down. For example: Was she in pain? And if so, how much pain and why?

3. A Hospice Nurse Visit and Vital Signs Chart was filled out each time a hospice nurse came. The chart consisted of the attending nurse’s name, the date, reason for visit (routine or did we call them). If we called them, we noted the reason why. All of her vitals were noted on each visit as well.

4. We had a dedicated person that was trained by hospice to come daily to visit Eileen for her physical therapy. A chart was made out for that as well that noted how well Eileen did, if she completed the therapy session, the progress she made and how was she feeling in the therapist eyes.

5. We shared our important research with the caregivers, information we found on the internet or reading other material that we thought was important to know and would help each of us better care for Eileen. We had each caregiver sign and date when they read the information as well as talked about it with them and solicited their opinions about the information.

We documented everything no matter what it was. We focused on how we as a team could help Eileen work through her problems and what we could learn from it.

The hospice nurse often joked that “They were making a medical nurse out of Katie”. I liked that. I was proud of that. I was proud of all the research I did on my own, and learned so much by doing so. I never stopped finding out all I could about how to care for elders and how I could make life different and better for them.

Eileen passed away Oct. 24, 2008 at the age of 91. She fell ill one day and, despite our best efforts, died three weeks later. She died in her home with me, Jim and Vickie, one of her caregivers, by her side. All the caregivers came together to remember. I was amazed at all the love and wonderful memories the team had for Eileen. We all miss her.

I still have her childhood doll. The doll will always remind me of how important it is to help and love our elders. It is hard to explain but hope you will understand anyway. When I look at the doll, I realize that Eileen was a child herself at one time who loved and gave so much, and she, as with all elders, deserve as much, if not more, in return.

After learning so much from our experience with Eileen, our goal is to keep learning and discovering ways to care for our seniors with love, comfort and dedicated care.

Dedicated to Addie W. Williams. Her story and now ours.

Addie Williams was my mother, and my heart and soul in so many ways. She inspired me as a child to grow up with honesty, respect and love. She really was the all in all of my journey of caring for the elders, and she taught me well.

There comes a time in most of our lives when we will have to care for our elder parents. Approaching things in a gentle way is important when they can no longer care for themselves in their living situations. It is such an emotional time, not only for you as their child, but also for them as your parent.

My mother was moved to my sister’s home. This was a very difficult situation, as she had to give up her own home that she loved so much.

After awhile, she wanted to move to my home, and after talking it over with my sister, she moved in with us. Having her with me for a short time meant so much. Sadly, while she was there, she suffered a stroke. New arrangements had to be made to place her in a care facility after her stroke. That was an ordeal in itself. We had no idea of what we needed to do, since we were never confronted with such a problem before. All of her children wanted her to have the best care, but figuring out how to do that was beyond our knowledge at that time.

We researched all we could and placed her where we thought she would receive the best care.

With me, I learned how to love and appreciate others more, especially where my mother was concerned. Her care was an ongoing dilemma, similar to so many others also caring for aging parents and relatives.

With my mother, the most important thing that always brought me back to elder care, (or any care for that matter) was a particular poem that she wrote that I always reflect on as I grow older.

My Most Passionate Wish

If at this moment
There could be granted
My most passionate wish,
What would it be?
Love? Wealth, health?
No.
It would be
To know I was confirmed
Acknowledged as worthy
In the human chain
Because of having deserved it –
To have lived
Yet to be
And
To die with the honor
Because
I earned it.
October 1985 @Addie W. Williams

My mother deserved the very best in her golden years. And while her family worked to give this to her, the best was delivered to them as well. We received an understanding of several things including:

1. This cannot be done without research

2. This cannot be done without outside help.

3. This cannot be done without facing your own emotions.

The main thing is, taking care of an elder relative can be done because there is so much help out there to be had. The strongest link I can give at this time is a website that deals with placing your loved one (be it a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc.) and a link to a wonderful ebook written to help you with decisions, emotions, financial, etc. concerning the care of elderly.

I find it very difficult and emotional to write about my mother. It is my hope that those that take the time to read this dedication understand my reasons for opening my own residential assisted living home.

If you would like to know more about me or my mother, visit our web page at Authors Den, where you can read my mother’s poems, essays and journal posts in her memory.

My mother inspired me to dedicate my life to meeting the needs of elders. I’m honored by this endeavor and hope that others will help me while I do so. I think that it is very important that we be able to count on others to help us learn all we can in this field, (should they be family, friends, professionals, or unexpected gifts in our lives) the lessons learned are gifts, as caring for our elders, brings much to our lives as well.