Nursing home staffers treat mind, body, spirit

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If you ever wanted to be the person that constantly plans fun activities and events for people, that enjoys tending to those that cannot tend to themselves, working at a nursing home might be the place for you.

“Everybody thinks an activities director’s job is just fun and games, but there is a lot of planning that goes into it. You have to keep them from isolation, try to help delay cognitive loss, things like that. You can’t just play Bingo 24/7 and a lot of people think that’s what activity directors do, but there’s care plans and always something that needs to be done.” Carolyn Mangum, activities and marketing director of Arbor Grace Nursing and Rehab Facility says.

Mangum creates and plans all sorts of activities for the residents she tends to on a regular basis.

“A lot of it comes from within my head. My love for elderly people is what brought me into this business. I relate well with them, I always have since I was a child. I love doing anything that can help them or encourage their life to be good,” Mangum said. “You gotta have five events planned out every day. You have to do one-on-ones three times a week, which is where we go into a resident’s room and do an activity with them to try to keep them involved.”

Mangum has tried to incorporate music into her activities.

“In planning, you have to look for something that stimulates the mind and their senses,” Mangum said.

Mangum feels most rewarded when she gets a resident that comes in opposed to doing anything social but eventually winds up at events, socializing with others.

“When a resident comes in that is totally against activities or socialization, it always thrills me to be able to find somebody like that and work with them, gain their trust and get them to mingle in with the other residents,” Mangum said with enthusiasm.

Ashley Wilson is the wellness director and nurse at the Arabella Assisted Living Facility in Kilgore. Wilson oversees the well-being of the residents and helps them tend to their daily functions.

“I love being with the residents,” Wilson said. “You get attached to them. I love hearing their stories and my veterans have some of the most interesting ones.”

“We have the wonderful dining experience. They don’t go through a lunch line, we take orders via restaurant style. They are served like you are in a restaurant and if they don’t like what’s on the menu, we have what is called the Chef Selections that are available that they can order and that is made to order and that is for breakfast lunch and dinner,” Cassie Peteet, regional director of operations at Civitas Senior Living, said. Civitas is the corporate parent of Arabella.

Arabella allows the residents to live more independently than a regular nursing home.

“It is definitely the most home-like experience that you can get within a community for sure,” Wilson said.

Kristina Carpenter is a certified nurses assistant, or CNA, for The Willows.

“I was not a people person. I was actually in business school and I needed extra money so I decided to be a CNA. My mom was a nurse and I found a love for people I didn’t know I had. Old people are fun. They are just like us, they’re just old,” Carpenter said with a laugh.

Carpenter starts her day off by going into the facility and waking up the residents. Then she dresses them and aids them with breakfast.

“The amount of care ranges from just watching them when they walk and make sure they don’t fall, to doing everything for them that I would do for myself,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter has thoroughly enjoyed building bonds with the people she tends to.

“The relationships we form, I’ve been here for eight years and some of them I have known since I first started working here,” Carpenter said.

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