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Thoughts about Summerhill.

My Mother has vascular dementia, she lives in the Meadows neighborhood of Summerhill. She can no longer live independently or do any of her daily care tasks without help.

Summerhill is like an extended family. Here are compassionate people who care for my Mother. It's as if I've acquired a bunch of sisters and brothers. They have lightened the burden of caring for Mom. Maybe it's even better than family, because they accept her as she is now. This is sometimes hard to do, especially for those of us who knew her from before dementia.

When I tell people about Summerhill, I try to explain that living in the independent wing is like dormitory living, but nicer. The Meadows is like a family living arrangement.

I've found that the folks at Summerhill honestly want to help Mom live a better life. They tell me about Mom's bad days and then they'll tell me about her good days. They have seen my Mother naked and seen me emotionally naked. They not only care for my Mother, they care for me. The staff is not perfect, but they are like family. I see honest and real communication between staff and residents.

When I see Mike chatting and walking slowly along with someone, or Aylmer playing chess with someone, I don't see it as "they are not doing their job"; what I see is that they are using all their skills and talents to help make Summerhill a better place.

My mother-in-law came to visit my Mother. After her visit she said that she wanted me to be the one to select "the home", if she ever had to move to a care facility. Was it because, she too, had the feeling that Summerhill felt like home, not "a home".

Now if only my Mother felt at home. She'll never be happy, it's the dementia, I know. She's broken and no one can fix it.

~ Dawn K. Forde

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