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Al's Story

They say it takes a community to raise a child. I think it also takes a community to care for our elders. -Deb Bacon

Deb's story about her parents... Marge and Al Paul married in 1960. Their married life started in Farmington, New Mexico, but they returned with their blended family of 9 to their Nebraska roots. They resided in Lexington, Kearney and Gothenburg.

Marge was an amateur artist, certified interior designer and avid antique collector. Al was a WWII veteran, a self-proclaimed "Ford" man who could fix anything remotely mechanical and a traveling salesman for Panther chemicals and later hot pressure washers.

They dabbled in several small antique businesses over the years and spent happy times in their RV. Marge loved antique jewelry and always looked classy whether in blue jeans or dressed up. Al never knew a stranger and his attractive smile and ability to talk to anyone explains his success as a salesman.

They moved into an independent apartment in Stone Hearth Estates when it opened in October, 2005. When Marge passed away in 2008, Al moved into an assisted living apartment before moving into Memory Care, where he passed away in 2012. Al lost some memories in his final year, but he never lost his engaging personality

As investors in Stone Hearth Estates... we realized a gap existed between living at home and living in a nursing home for Gothenburg's aging population. We had immense enthusiasm for the project but realized we had little practical experience with serving people who needed independent, assisted or memory care living. Much to my amazement, my mother jump started my learning when she asked for floorplans of the independent living apartments while we were under construction. She and my stepfather had been in their newly built home for just a few years, but my brother and I were providing increasing assistance with yardwork, medical appointments, and financial paperwork. Mom's health was declining, and she was concerned about Dad's lapses in memory. To this , I am in awe of my mother's foresight. My parents moved into Stone Hearth the month we opened. They lived on all three floors and our family experienced firsthand the various levels of staff assistance and care required as they moved from independent to assisted living, and Dad to Memory Care. 

Having my parents in our building increased my understanding of this business far beyond any formal training. It placed me in the role of guardian and taught me as an owner how important it is to be empathic when dealing with our families. It made me appreciate the caring staff who spent untold hours encouraging and supporting both the physical and emotional well-being of my parents in the hours and yes,  days when the family was not there. 

While Dad was in memory Care, I was so grateful for the staff who helped me navigate successful ways to communicate and connect with him as his memory declined. And, let's face it, I would have been worthless at cleaning Dad up after bathroom accidents or recognizing and documenting frequent health changes. Even more important to me now, I will always remember the art teacher who helped Dad express his memories while he brushed water colors across the paper; the care staff member who danced with Dad at a "Senior" prom in North Platte and hugged him as he accepted his Prom King crown; the staff member who brought one of her baby goats to work, which resulted in Dad holding and stroking said goat with the widest smile ever; the activity director who brought a mechanical cow to the back lawn and giggle as Dad milked the cow as if he was still a young man on the farm; the barber who cut Dad's hair and then played pool with him. Luckily, our staff take amazing photographs!

They say it takes a community to raise a child, I think it also takes a community to care for our elders. I will be forever grateful to Mom and Dad for trusting Stone Hearth to be that community and for teaching me firsthand what assisted living really means


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