by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer
Are you looking for an assisted living facility for your loved one? Well, look no farther. Willowood at Mustang offers gracious living in a home-like setting with dedicated and knowledgeable staff available 24 hours a day to meet the personal needs of each resident.
In addition to the assisted living services, Willowood provides a completely self-contained, secure memory care unit for those with Alzheimer’s and memory-related dementias.
There is someone special at Willowood that is sure to make you feel welcome as you walk into the spacious entrance with beautiful decor. That person is Carolyn Spears, Life Enrichment Coordinator. This is Carolyn’s first year at Willowood and she has already made a difference in resident’s lives.
Carolyn started a program at this facility called Wish of a Lifetime program through the Jerry Bloom foundation. “This is a program where the resident requests a wish; something they have always wanted to do but never could. The members of the Wish of a Lifetime committee, in Colorado decide which resident gets their wish granted. All wishes are considered and much thought goes to each decision. Not all wishes are granted.”
“I think every senior deserves a chance to make their wish come true,” Carolyn said. “This year, 7 wishes have been submitted and several have been granted. It is amazing to see the look on the recipient’s face when they realize they have been chosen. It makes it all worth it. Of course, it takes quite a bit of planning from others that go into the Wish of a Lifetime and I am thankful for the people that reach out, allowing the senior’s wishes to come true.”
Giving a few examples of the granted wishes, Carolyn told how one resident wanted to travel to be reunited with his cousin. Another one wanted to go to see a Thunder game, live. They had a staff member go along and a family member and they were able to watch the game. He was thrilled! The wishes can be simple or a little excessive but Willowood tries to make their wish come true.
Being Life Enrichment Coordinator is a rewarding job for Carolyn, getting to know the residents, but it can also be a lot of hard work. As activity director, Carolyn is in charge of a full range of activities; cookouts, outdoor leisure time, trips for shopping, concerts and tours. She also plans all of resident’s daily activities, gets the residents involved in arts and crafts, and gives art lessons.
“It is very important that the residents get involved with activities, stay busy and socialize. When they are involved, it makes for less falls, less stress and less agitation. Of course, the residents enjoy themselves here and that is what we want. We want them to feel comfortable. It’s their home,” Carolyn said.
On a personal note, Carolyn grew up in Arkansas and Oklahoma. “It was kind of like 50/50,” she said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that I started from the ground up. I started out as a CNA, then I became a CMA, ACMA then a state certified Activity Director and I have to say, “When I found this job, it sounded perfect. I love it!” Carolyn said. “I love helping the residents, enjoy planning their activities, working with arts and crafts, going shopping, playing games, enjoy visiting with each person…what more could I ask for?” she added.
Asking Carolyn how she became interested in activity director, she replied, “I have always enjoyed being around people. For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in arts and crafts. I am also a private contract artist. Some of my paintings have been sold all over the country. Most of my work has been sold to private individuals.” Some of Carolyn’s art work is displayed throughout Willowood.
When Carolyn is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her twin daughters, 17 and daughter 13. She is also an advocate for Fibromyalgia and MS and leads an Alzheimer’s Association support group once a month.
Asking Carolyn what her favorite part of her job would be, she simply answered, “To be involved and learn wisdom from the ones that are around me.”
If you would like to learn more about Willowood at Mustang, Meridian Senior Living, they are located at 1017 W. Highway 152. For more information, call 405-376-1200 where someone will be glad to answer your questions.