Pamela Olds is the Social Services Director for 40+ residents at the Sayre Christian Village Healthcare Center and handles all admissions on for Short Term and Long Term Care.
While that is her job description, it doesn’t define her. Serving the residents in whatever manner is needed is her calling.
Board Books, Puzzles & Memory Games
Sayre Christian Village is always looking out-of-the box ways to engage residents and Pam is always ready with the assist.
The original thought was, “Wouldn’t it be great if the residents had something smaller than a heavy photo album that they could tote along in their walker or wheelchair bag? Something that has nice, big one-word descriptors that their eyes can see, curated to only have their most prize possessions and people, AND be durable? Think about younger children coming to visit the Healthcare Center. They often don’t know how to interact with ‘Grandma’ now that she’s in a different environment. It would be great if there was a tool that could help bridge that gap.”
Pinhole Press is a company that makes smaller-bound, thick board books for toddlers, but has recently expanded their market to include puzzles, memory match games and board books. It turns out, they also have a heart of gold.
When Sayre reached out, Pinhole Press quickly donated books for our project. They were so enthusiastic, they even created a section on their website devoted to helping others see the ways that their products could unlock memories for their loved ones with memory impairment.
Creating Lasting Memories
Pam worked with the families to select which treasured photos would ‘make it into the book’ or be the image for the puzzle.
She had no idea when she started how incredibly cathartic it would become for the families. It takes time to sift through all the memories and decide which are the most special that they want in the book.
“It’s rare for this generation to have doubles of any picture, so you can imagine how creating a book like this for your Mom in memory care gets family members talking. You have to reach out to extended family to get a hold of those perfect memory pictures. An unplanned side-effect of this project was family interaction…and coming to terms that a loved one had dementia. Dementia doesn’t reverse. You don’t bounce back from it. This project can help families come to terms with the new reality, ” recounts Elise Hinchman, Director of Marketing & Development.
Pamela worked side-by-side with the families during the process and created each book for them. Some of the resident family members included their loved one in the process and asked them about pictures to reveal which were the ones that they wanted in the book. Others used photos that they already felt confident would stir Mom or Dad to remember certain things. There was no right or wrong way to do it.
Pamela still can’t talk about the books without getting shiny eyes. You can tell her favorite pictures from the project!
- Nancy was a physical therapist for over 20 years here at Sayre. Now staff at Sayre are privileged of take care of her. She and her husband did a lot of traveling together and raised a family, which is what Nancy’s memory book is all about.
- Delphine chose a picture of herself, her daughter Cindy and her granddaughter Kayla at Christmas time. This was a happy memory for her, and with her daughters help, decided to turn the picture into a puzzle.
- Anna Belle chose a picture of her and her husband AB. The two were married for 64 years until he passed away last year. Anna Belle says he was a good man and this is why she chose to make a puzzle out of one of their pictures.
- Mary has a very special relationship with her daughter Melissa. Melissa chose pictures for her mom’s memory book that encompassed her entire life. From childhood, to school years, family life, career and into retirement.
- Chic Wilson was a WWII veteran and retired pastor. He helped choose the pictures that went into his own memory book. Many of his favorite items were featured, such as his fox and Bible.
A Place of Healing
Sadly, Chic passed away before his book came in. His daughter and family received it during his last days, and as you can imagine, it’s now a treasure because it was one of the last things they did together. Chic Wilson’s daughter (featured in the news story) now can share his book with Chic’s surviving sister. It was cathartic to work on, comforting in the time of sadness and now helps with healing.
LeadingAge Kentucky Award Nominee
It’s no surprise that she has been nominated for the state-wide Quality of Life Award. Pamela is not afraid to leave her desk and be a one-on-one with a resident and their families, regardless of what is on her agenda. Many days you will find Pamela sitting next to a resident helping to feed them and making their day brighter with her sincere concern and interest.
She is extremely passionate about resident rights and often works late or takes work home with her. Because she often picks up extra shifts in dietary or front reception, she is seen all over the campus by residents, team members, and families alike.
Pamela has been an advocate for Second Wind Dreams and have helped several residents achieve theirs through hard work and perseverance. Whether the dream is meeting the University of Kentucky Wildcat mascot, helping another resident become a teacher for a day or even the small day-to-day comforts like making sure that a resident that wants a big Mac gets that treat.
Pamela’s compassion and love for all residents is a model for others to follow. We are better with her on this campus.
IT’S NOT A JOB, IT’S A MISSION
Sayre Christian Village has been giving award-winning service to seniors in the Bluegrass for over 35 years. We are accepting applications for talented and caring team members. We are Fayette County’s only non-profit continuing care retirement community and a great place to work!