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A constant in memory care assisted living: A family’s love [video]

Tuesday, January 17 2017 4:40 AM
Chase Rykman, left, and his uncle, OJ, swap stories and fun times inside the truck OJ's former students renovated for Cedar Lake Village's courtyard designed for memory care assisted living residents.

Janet Simpson knows a thing or two about family life at Cedar Lake Village.

In 2004, her mother moved to an assisted living apartment on campus. She had survived a stroke and was beginning to exhibit signs of dementia.

Years later, when Janet's husband, OJ, became increasingly forgetful and started having some mobility issues, Janet knew that Cedar Lake Village would provide a loving home for OJ, too.

Did you know that memory care assisted living design can make a difference for your loved one? Click here to learn more.

"I've always had a really fond feeling for the Good Samaritan Society, both at the Village and the skilled care,” Janet says.  "It's just been really good for our family."

In the summer of 2016, after 35 years of marriage to Janet, OJ moved into one of the new memory care assisted living households at Cedar Lake Village. 

Janet says the transition is still new to them both, but one thing that hasn’t changed is their ability to be a family amid all the changes.

Janet and OJ's nephew, Chase Rykman, visits his uncle regularly, and the two play putt-putt golf or enjoy stories and companionship in the Ford truck that's tucked into a corner of the courtyard

"The truck that's out here was dedicated to my husband because he taught collision and repair at the Olathe tech school prior to coming here," Janet says. "So he does light up if he gets to tell somebody about the truck."

Even four-legged members of the family make a weekly appearance, when Janet brings the couple's dog to campus.

Janet says these opportunities for family life are just a normal part of everyone's day.

The welcoming atmosphere makes life easier for residents of the memory care assisted living unit and any of their visitors.

Staff members say they wouldn't have it any other way.

"We want families to feel like this is their home, too, like they can come in and make a meal together, or watch movies on a Saturday night," says Joanna Randall, executive director of Cedar Lake Village.

"One of the best parts of working so closely with our residents is getting to know their families and sharing that experience with them."


Although visits are important to a resident at any level of care, a sense of normalcy helps both memory care residents and their loved ones cope with the effects of dementia, says Michelle Kutner, a specialty services consultant for the Good Samaritan Society.

"In my experience, regardless of the setting, if someone with dementia has family, and the family lives close by, they are actively involved," she says. "Making them feel welcome is important because the losses and needs they're experiencing are sometimes greater than what the individual is going through."

All of the staff have made OJ feel like he's number one. They've helped us both go through this."  — Janet Simpson, wife of memory care assisted living resident

Joanna has seen this happen with OJ.

Knowing that his friends and relatives feel comfortable on campus has been very rewarding for her and all the staff, Joanna says.

"I like for the families to think of us now as part of their extended family," she says. "We laugh together, we face challenges together, and we do it all with love, just like you would at home."

An orange Ford truck sits behind a row of trucks in a Good Samaritan Society memory care assisted living courtyard
The courtyard at Cedar Lake Village sits in the middle of the memory care assisted living households, offering residents the opportunity to explore the outdoors, sit in an old Ford truck, play putt-putt golf or walk to a mailbox as part of a daily routine.

As for Janet, she's become an advocate of the caring environment she and OJ have experienced time and again with the Good Samaritan Society.

"I think people are so afraid of putting their loved one in assisted living because they think 'oh I'm putting them in a home,' but that's an older way of thinking," she says. "Now, it's very modernized."

Janet says she’s grateful for the personal attention OJ and the rest of the residents get from employees.

"They work with doctors, they work to understand activity levels. It's been amazing to see the whole level of care. It's been a big part of our lives."

Does a family member need more than you can give? We can help.  Call (913) 780-9916 to speak to a member of our marketing team.  
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