Capturing special moments with memory books


Lynda VintonPeople living with cognitive and language impairment have difficulty finding the right words as well as recalling recent events. Sometimes the words are on the tip of their tongue but remain elusive. This situation can create frustration and embarrassment.

But help is available. Speech-language pathologists evaluate and treat cognitive-communication disorders associated with dementia, stroke, mild cognitive impairment, head injury and other conditions.

At Homeland Center, we create personalized memory books to help residents communicate. These tools can foster meaningful use of language, spark memories and allow people living with impairment to engage in activities on their own and with a wide range of others.

More than 50 residents have participated in our speech therapy program to create memory books.

Memory books are written using a resident’s own words. They tell the story of the person’s early years and can focus on his or her present life. People usually have better long-term recollection than short-term memory. They might not remember that they just ate lunch, but they can tell you the name of their first-grade teacher.

In addition to the books, memory aids can include labels, personalized daily schedules, safety signs and prompts, photos and reminder cards for appointments. These tools not only aid meaningful conversation but also can spur reminiscences, bringing comfort and often a smile.

Memory aids are an essential part of daily living and safety. They can help orient a person, answer common questions that arise and provide needed reminders. When residents can communicate their wants and needs to loved ones and caregivers, they avoid becoming confused, anxious and frustrated.

Memory aids help those with cognitive and language impairment to:

• Reminisce about people and events.
• Participate in group activities.
• Remember important names, places and appointments.
• Complete daily activities and tasks unassisted.
• Engage in meaningful conversation and social interaction.
• Recall hobbies, achievements, favorite songs and recipes.
• Avoid challenging behaviors.
• Preserve their dignity and identity.

Memory books are just one tool to help with cognitive communication problems. Speech-language pathologists work closely with physicians, family members, nurses and activities staffers to treat each individual’s communication and memory deficiency needs.

Capturing special moments with memory booksHomeland Center’s two speech-language pathologists also assess and treat problems with swallowing related to aging, injury and illness.

May is Better Hearing and Speech month and a perfect time to contact us and see how we can help your loved one!

For questions about memory books or speech-language pathology, please contact Mandy Cheskis, MS CCC-SLP, or Jessica Cunningham, MS CCC-SLP. They are in the Therapy Department and can be reached at 717-221-7900, extension 2164.

Homeland residents can’t help falling in love with Elvis


ElvisLadies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the building!

Homeland Center residents, staff, and guests were treated to the musical sounds – and shaking hips – of Elvis Presley impersonator Brad Crum, on a Friday afternoon in April.

Dressed in a sky-blue suit studded with rhinestones and dripping with chains, Crum sang an array of favorites made popular by the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Just like Elvis, he would drape a scarf around his neck, serenade a lovely lady in the crowd, and end by draping the scarf around her neck.

Audience members tapped their toes to “Suspicious Lies” and “Rollin’ on the River.” They swooned to “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” and “Teddy Bear.” A few melodies came from Elvis Presley’s movie career, such as the title song to 1961’s “Blue Hawaii.” Some of the songs were covers from other artists that Elvis performed in his lifetime, like Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”

While Elvis strolled the room, residents and staff enjoyed another cool treat – ice cream sundaes dished out by Homeland staff. The sundae bar choices included chocolate, caramel, and strawberry syrup, sprinkles in all flavors and colors, and whipped cream. Residents could even have a banana split if they liked.

Crum drew laughter and applause when he employed all the classic Elvis moves – hips swiveling, shoulders shaking, hand outstretched. He did have to apologize, though, for not dropping to the floor, Elvis-style.

“I can’t do that move because I just got my knee replaced,” Crum confessed. But he expects the move to be back in his repertoire in time for Elvis’ many summertime gigs.

After a few tunes, Crum told the crowd filling the Homeland Main Dining Room that he would sing a few of the gospel songs that Elvis recorded. To appreciative applause, he said, “I kind of thought you would like that.” The set included “Mansion Over the Hilltop” and “Crying in the Chapel,” a number-one hit from 1965.

Concluding the gospel set, Crum encouraged the crowd, “Everybody help to sing this one because I know you know it.” Then he sang the familiar words of “Amazing Grace,” as residents did, indeed, sing along.

As his hour was ending, Crum said his last song was one that few Elvis impersonators close with, “but I’m going to do it, anyway,” he said. Then he performed a full-throated rendition of “I’m So Hurt to Think that You Lied to Me.”

Resident Irene Gohrig snagged a moment of conversation between songs with Crum, telling him about her memories of Elvis.

“When I was a young girl, I used to go to the concerts that he had,” she said. “I was in high school.” All the girls were screaming and squealing, and “I was just like the other kids,” she said.

While Elvis shocked some of the older generations of the 1950s, Irene’s parents “heard a lot about him, too, so they thought he was okay. When I was in high school, everything was Elvis.”

Crum, she added, “is terrific.”

ElvisCrum has been an Elvis impersonator for 18 years. He started because, he said, “My wife requested it.” At the time, he had a band named East Coast Invasion. He was drummer and lead singer, a gig he had for 36 years, playing songs from various bands including Queen and Boston.

Then his wife asked him to sing Elvis songs outside her gift shop, “to bring all the ladies in, and that’s how it started.”

His costume – one of eight in his Elvis wardrobe – cost $2,200 when he bought it, and the price today is around $3,200. Meticulously crafted, it came from Indiana-based B&K Enterprises.

“If you ever saw the movie ‘3,000 Miles to Graceland,’ they made those suits,” he said, evoking images of Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell resplendent in their Elvis attire. “They’re the best.”

Crum, of Halifax, said he loves singing in retirement communities. They are places where many audience members, just like Irene, have memories of seeing Elvis in person. “Some of them even have scarves,” he said.

The power of Elvis Presley’s music is uplifting, especially for those from the Elvis generation, Crum said.

“People can relate to it,” he said. “It brings them right back to where they were when they first heard it. It’s good stuff.”

Homeland resident Polly Myers finds home wherever she goes


Polly Myers and Paula BakerKorea. Honolulu. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Yuma, Arizona. El Centro, California. Arlington, Virginia. Carlisle. Six elementary schools. Three high schools.

Homeland resident Polly Myers saw the USA and beyond, even before she graduated from high school. Her father, a West Point graduate, was a career Army engineer whose assignments took the family around the globe.

Through it all, Polly made friends and learned to adjust. Polly, who came to Homeland in 2014 and has served on the Board of Managers, said she loves Homeland’s warm and attentive atmosphere.

“Everyone is friendly,’’ said Polly, who is in the Skilled Care wing. “The staff cares, and it shows.’’

It was while studying economics at Wellesley College that Polly suddenly became a Central Pennsylvania resident.

While planning a trip home to Arlington, she received a call telling her that her parents were now living in Carlisle. It proved a fateful move: during another break, an acquaintance introduced her to Bob Myers, the man she would marry.

“He was a charmer,” she said. “Bob and I just had a good time.” One night, they met in New York, where she raged about a speaker at school who said that businesses shouldn’t hire women. In response, Bob said, “I have a job in mind for you. Taking care of me.”

Back among her Wellesley friends, a heated debate ensued. Was Polly engaged or not? Some thought yes. Some thought no.

“Bob called later that night and said he told his parents he was engaged,” said Polly. “So, then I decided it really was a proposal.”

They married days after Polly graduated. It was the beginning of quite a journey. They bought a home in Camp Hill, learning the night of settlement that Bob’s great-grandfather had built it. While their three children were still young, he was diagnosed with a form of bone marrow cancer and given only a few years to live.

At the same time, Polly’s best friend, Joanne Wickersham, was fighting breast cancer. Joanne’s son-in-law played for the NFL’s Houston Oilers, and the team doctor got her an appointment at a top treatment center in Houston. Polly sat with her friend through chemo. When she saw the advanced care provided there, she thought that maybe they could help her husband.

Bob would go on to beat cancer. Joanne did not. One night, during an impromptu visit, Joanne’s home-care nurse asked Polly to hold Joanne while she changed the sheets. Polly apologized to Joanne, saying she knew how much it would hurt.

“She looked at me and said, ‘You never could hurt me,’” Polly recalled, her voice choking with emotion.
“I pulled her to me, and she died. The nurse said that she felt free to go because I was holding her.”

Bob, a lawyer, entered politics after his cancer diagnosis. As a Democrat, he had lost a close race for district attorney. Then, party officials asked him to run for Congress, believing that President Lyndon B. Johnson would sweep back into office and pull in Democrats on his coattails.

“That’s fine,” said Polly, “but I don’t think LBJ is going to run again.” She was right, and Bob lost by 10,000 votes. When a state Senate seat opened, he finally got his term in office, serving in the state’s upper chamber from 1974 to 1976.

“He loved it,” she said of her husband, who died in 1993. “He was so good at it.”

As a family, with their son and two daughters, they vacationed at the beach and in the mountains. Now with seven grandchildren, Polly enjoys watching football and college basketball. At Homeland, she made a dear friend in former dietitian Paula Barker. Every other Thursday, Paula makes a meal using recipes Polly finds and they eat together at Homeland’s classic 1950s-style diner.

“I realize how lucky I’ve been,” she said. “I’m just comfortable here.”

Employee Spotlight: Clinical Manager Kelly Weldon believes in “going the extra mile”


Kelly WeldonFrom her first day at Homeland Center in October 2017, Kelly Weldon “just dove right in, talking to everybody, remembering the things they like and don’t like.”

Kelly spent the first 16 years of her nursing career working at an area retirement community. She left there to work at the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, but the job mostly entailed dispensing medications, and it wasn’t as fulfilling as working with the elderly.

“I missed the hustle and bustle of having residents and hearing about their lives and taking care of them,” she said. “They’re funny and great to be around.”

Kelly is responsible for clinical management in Personal Care at Homeland Center. She loves getting to know the residents. In fact, she said, she could never work at a hospital because it would frustrate her to see patients going in and out.

“I like to know who I’m taking care of,” she said. “I like to know everything about them from A to Z, their families and their medications.”

That familiarity with individual residents and their families contributes to excellence in services, she believes.

“We get to know someone and their background and know their family and feel close to them,’’ she said. “To me, it provides for better care.”

At Homeland, she loves “the fact that the residents are first and foremost. No matter what they need or what they want, they will get it. Anything. They’re well taken care of.”

When one resident needed a rolling walker, Kelly gave her a walker that belonged to her husband’s grandmother when she lived with them.

“That brightened her whole life,” she said. “Every time I see her, she says thank you for the walker.”

Kelly grew up in Marysville and after graduating from high school studied nursing at Harrisburg Area Community College. Kelly’s mother was a nurse as well, recently retiring after 40 years working in maternity care.

“It’s about that nurturing, just to be a nurse and a caregiver,” Kelly said, adding she learned those lessons early from her mother. “You don’t leave your shift until everything’s taken care of and everything’s right. You go the extra mile.”

It was while working at the Camp Hill prison that she realized she wanted to return to senior care.

Outside of work, she and her husband have three teenagers, a 13-year-old son and two daughters, 15 and 17. Kelly’s husband, retired from the Army National Guard Reserves, is a stay-at-home dad. His 15 years of service included tours in Germany and Iraq. Her parents were a tremendous help when her husband was overseas. On nights she wasn’t around to make dinner, the kids called it “fend for yourself night.”

“We had a lot of leftovers,” said the Lower Paxton Township resident. “It was a good experience for them to be on their own. I’m teaching them to be very independent because I’m independent. I want my kids to be able to do for themselves.”

Kelly said she’s at Homeland to stay.

“I hope to retire here because it feels like home,’’ she said. “It just feels right.”

A well-deserved thanks for Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice volunteers


Thank you, Homeland volunteers!Typing handwritten recipes into a computer, even with a broken wrist. Playing table games with an elderly hospice patient who outfoxes his opponents every time.

The spirit of volunteerism energizes Homeland Center and Homeland Hospice. Homeland Center’s 104 volunteers and Homeland Hospice’s 54 volunteers enjoyed an elegant dinner recognizing their contributions in helping Homeland maintain the highest standards of personal attention and engagement.

“Thank you,” Homeland Center President/CEO Barry S. Ramper II told the volunteers. “We deeply appreciate your commitment in choosing to use the most valuable commodity you have – your time – in the interest of serving others – namely, the residents of Homeland Center, patients of Homeland Hospice, and clients of Homeland HomeCare.”

About 80 volunteers joined Homeland residents and staff in the Homeland Main Dining Room, enjoying a meal of raspberry marinated herb chicken breast, parmesan roasted red potatoes, and green beans almandine, prepared by Homeland culinary staff. There was a special treat as well: a repeat performance of song parodies written for Homeland’s 150th-anniversary gala by local actors Rick Stevens and Debbie Smith, accompanied by pianist Steve Rudolph.

Each volunteer received a “Kind” bar – a chocolate bar from Matangos Candies, customized with Homeland’s logo – and thanked for making a difference in the life of a resident or patient. Special awards were received by:
• Sherry Lank, most administrative hours for Homeland Hospice, 163.5 hours.
• Ron Brinkley, most patient care hours for Homeland Hospice, 148.5 hours.
• Wendy Shearer, Homeland Center gift shop volunteer.
• Tyana Jennings, a teen volunteer who spends much of her free time as a companion to Homeland Center residents.

Each volunteer has a story to tell of touching a life or many lives.

Thank you, Homeland volunteers!Homeland Hospice volunteers Phil Talarico and Ken Decker rotate Tuesday mornings playing dominoes and card games with an elderly Dillsburg-area patient who is always smiling and ready for the challenge.

“I have only beaten him in Five Crowns less than five times in over a year,” said Talarico, of Upper Allen Twp. “He wipes me out every week.”

The Dillsburg patient is surrounded by family, but other hospice patients “don’t have that advantage,” said Talarico, a 10-year Homeland Hospice veteran. “People like to have company, so it’s a good thing to let them talk and share.”

For patients nearing the end of life, hospice volunteers are a comforting presence, said Decker, of Silver Spring Twp. “They need somebody to be at their side. I know that God’s there with me to help that patient take the final step.”

Homeland Hospice volunteers include companions to patients, errand runners for families, vigil keepers, envelope stuffers, and support group assistants, said Leanne Porterfield, coordinator of volunteers.

“They are givers – of time, of passion, of self,” she said. “Homeland Hospice is blessed by their amazing gift and spirit. They are certainly deserving of our heartfelt gratitude.”

At Homeland Center, volunteer Barbara Cleeland says she does “the humdrum work” such as alphabetizing files to help development office staff concentrate on fundraising.

“They have more important things to do,” she said.Thank you, Homeland volunteers!

Barbara also brings 46 years of high-level management to her post. From the 1960s until retirement in 1984, she was West Coast reservations office manager for British Airways – the first woman to hold that post for the airline. Among her fond memories of working for the airline is seeing the curvature of the earth and the deep cobalt blue of the atmosphere while flying on the Concorde from Washington to London in the 1970s.

Barbara had a broken wrist when she typed in all the recipes, many handwritten, for the 150th anniversary “Heritage Recipes from Homeland Center.”

“We had recipes from residents and family members and board of directors,” she said. “They came in all shapes and sizes.” However, with help from software supplied by the cookbook publisher, “it didn’t take long.”

Barbara also serves on Homeland Center’s Board of Managers, supporting projects to keep Homeland’s public spaces refurbished.

“We like to have the place looking nice,” she said. “It gives a good appearance. My father was here. My sister was here. I know it matters to the residents.”

Homeland’s Easter egg hunt fun for all ages


Homeland's Easter egg huntAs she watched her grandchildren happily opening the colored plastic Easter eggs, Homeland Center resident Jean White mused the adults get as big a kick out of the annual hunt as the kids.

“I like it that Homeland encourages everyone to participate and includes families,’’ Jean said, taking in the happy squeals as the grandkids discovered favorite candies. “This is great for the kids and the grownups and I actually think the grownups enjoy it more, getting to watch the kids.’’

Homeland’s staff stuffed 1,000 brightly colored plastic eggs with treats and hid them throughout Homeland Center’s units, including Skilled Nursing, Personal Care and the Ellenberger memory care unit, said Gillian Sumpter, Director of Activities.

In addition to the egg hunt, kids were lining up in Homeland’s 1950s-style diner for face painting by local artist Taqiyya Muhammad. A visit by the Easter Bunny, also known as local performer Jimmy Edwards, was on the day’s agenda as well.

“I like the peanut butter eggs,” said Jean’s 9-year-old grandson, Luke, examining his sugary haul with siblings Leo, 7, Jacob, 6, Matthew, 4 and Sarah.

Luke’s mom and Jean’s granddaughter, Heather LaCour, looked on with her husband, Andy, and smiled.

“This is great – I can tell the residents enjoy it and I know their grandmother enjoys it,’’ Heather said, adding that her family loves Homeland’s summer picnics and festival. “I think it’s good to have events that give families the opportunity to get together. It’s important that Homeland is family-friendly.’’

Homeland's Easter egg huntElsewhere in Homeland, Gilbert Leo happily looked on as three generations of his family enjoyed the fun.

Homeland's Easter egg hunt“You get excellent care,’’ Gilbert said of Homeland.

His daughter, Michele Pease, said she could see how much her father and the other residents were enjoying seeing family. Michele said she appreciates the effort Homeland makes to plan these kinds of events.

Michele was joined by her brother, Tim Leo, and both of their children and grandchildren. Michele’s adult children, Morgan and Vincent, had fun watching Vincent’s 7-year-old son, Kamden, hunt for treats. Tim’s daughter, Tara Leo Auchey, was there with her husband, Caleb and their 10-month-old twins, Cassius and Bowie.

“It really uplifts my Dad,’’ Michele said. “These events really make Homeland feel like home and make the residents feel more connected.’’

Brother Tim agreed.

“I’m thrilled with the care they receive,’’ Tim said. “The staff pays attention to the residents and events like this bring everyone together.’’