As part of the Meaningful Moments program at Cardinal Court and Greenfield Estates, residents have the opportunity to revisit their personal holiday traditions

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Mom can’t remember how to make Christmas cookies. Is it time for a change? (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Beth Newcomb

Maybe your life is full. Really full. Between the kids, the spouse, the job and the house, keeping track of what your aging parent is doing on a day-to-day basis might not be part of the program.

Or maybe you only see Mom or Dad during the holidays, when it’s easy for her or him to smile, nod and blend in at parties and family gatherings without anything seeming to be amiss.

But this is exactly the time of year, says Stephanie Pulling, community resource director at Greenfield Estates, an Alzheimer’s special care center in Akron, when family members should pay close attention to how aging loved ones are navigating at home.

“There can be some obvious and not-so-obvious signs that Mom or Dad needs help, or that it’s no longer safe for her or him to live at home,” Stephanie says.

Here are some things she says to look for:

  • Loss of words, or the inability to find the right word
  • Failure to recognize and identify objects/people
  • Difficult completing normal tasks, such as cooking, bathing, doing laundry and taking medications
  • Bathing and personal grooming habits have changed
  • The person starts sleeping downstairs or avoids certain areas of the house
  • Undergarments are soiled/hidden
  • Bills are piling up
  • Missed meals
  • The person has difficulty following conversations
  • The person shows aggression or hostility

You can schedule a time to sit down with Stephanie to discuss any concerns you may have, and take a tour of Greenfield Estates, Alzheimer’s Special Care Center.

Greenfield Estates, you will find, manages Alzheimer’s and dementia along the entire journey, on an individual basis, for each person in a loving and understanding manner. They call the program they offer Meaningful Moments, and it’s tailored to the personal needs of residents.

“Here, we honor the life story of each person and create meaningful engagements,” Stephanie explains. “We assist our residents so that they can be independent as long as they can, and if that means they help with folding laundry, or they sand a block of wood to make a plaque, that’s what we do. It’s about honoring the memories that exist and validating those memories as much as we can.”

The validation technique she’s referring to is part of the Teepa Snow positive approach, and it’s connected to how a resident is greeted, how they’re touched, what kind of body language is used and the tone of voice that’s used.

“Our goal is to set each person up for success,” she says. “Our approach is to understand what’s going on inside each person and then work with them.”

Greenfield Estates is a warm and inviting home. Life stations and engagements are created and utilized to connect residents to their past. Before a new resident establishes him or herself at Greenfield Estates, Stephanie and her team interview the family to find out what is their life story, then his or her story is incorporated into a care plan everyday.

Stephanie says if you do notice changes that could point to Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to be respectful and considerate. Be a good listener, do your due diligence when considering a care facility, and remember to put your loved one’s needs ahead of your own.

“We offer our residents affirmation and accept them where they are in the journey,” Stephanie shares.

“We support the can, instead of underlining the cannot.”

To take a tour of Greenfield Estates Special Care Center and experience the difference this Alzheimer’s and dementia care community can make in the life of someone you love, call 330-664-1650 and ask for Stephanie Pulling. It’s located at 3522 Commercial Drive in Akron.The web address is

Cardinal Court Special Care Center and experience the difference this Alzheimer’s and dementia care community can make in the life of someone you love, call 440-268-9180 and ask for Kimberly Wilfong. It’s located at 18719 Drake Road, in Strongsville. The web address is