By: Lorrie Ward | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: December 2012
Residents enjoying each other’s company at Canoe Brook.
Several years ago, Michelle Heckman and her mother were faced with the difficult task of placing her beloved grandmother into assisted living. “While we were looking, we encountered several people who lacked compassion or tenderness – but that was exactly what our family needed in those circumstances.” Though Michelle’s family finally was successful in procuring care for her grandmother, Michelle could not shake the negative memories of their encounters. She told her mother, “If I can ever be in the position to help people in this circumstance, I will.”
So it is no surprise that when she had the chance to become marketing director for Canoe Brook Assisted Living & Alzheimer’s Care Community in Catoosa last year, Michelle took the position. The decision was not immediate, however; it came after she actually accepted an invitation from a friend to visit Canoe Brook and feel the difference for herself. There, she witnessed happy seniors going about their daily activities with the assurance of knowing someone is on hand to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week with daily problems or necessities related to age (like slight, age-related dementia) or health (medication distribution, fall prevention or alert), while still maintaining the independence and privacy afforded by having their own living spaces. Yet, there was plenty of social interaction available with meals served in the common dining room, activities such as art classes, crafts, games and socials, weekly outings for shopping and dinners out on the town, and weekly “pampering sessions” featuring manicures and pedicures by experienced staff.
Canoe Brook’s care for and connectedness with the elderly and their families was just what Michelle had envisioned years before. “The atmosphere in the building instantly grabbed me – and a year later, here I am,” Michelle says. “The family-like environment just draws people to it.”
Proof of this last statement can be found within the residents’ own stories. Four months ago, Kathy came for a weekend respite stay to, as she states, “give my daughter who had been caring for me a little break,” and ended up loving it so much she stayed, calling it “the best choice I ever made” and vowing she wants to stay there to the end of her days. Another resident, Patricia, who recently won the title of “Miss Senior Oklahoma,” openly shares her love for Canoe Brook, saying, “Everyone is so friendly, warm, and loving.”
The upcoming holidays will provide no exceptions to this experience. Canoe Brook will host a big party for residents and their families and a Parade of Trees Auction. For this auction, area vendors decorate and donate trees, which are displayed the first part of December and auctioned at the dinner party on Thursday, December 13, with proceeds going to the resident activity fund.
Michelle has spent the last year working to get the word out about this amazing haven for seniors, creating a Facebook page with current pictures of people and activities so that anyone in the position like she was in with her grandmother years ago can come and get a glimpse themselves. Interested parties can also visit the website at www.canoebrookassistedliving.com, where they can learn more about Canoe Brook’s Alzheimer’s Community. But even this does not substitute for a personal visit, which is what she recommends. “When somebody comes in the door of Canoe Brook, they can’t help but fall in love with it,” she says. “It’s like you’re coming home.”