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Continuing My Life Story: Casey J.

“Some people are just born caring.”

That’s how Ida H., Executive Director at Anthology of Anderson Township, describes team member Casey J.

Casey has been a Care Manager in the Memory Care neighborhood at Anthology Senior Living since July 2019. She provides licensed care, support, and friendship to community residents experiencing memory loss.  Having previously earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Casey is continuing her education to become a Registered Nurse. The additional license requires extensive training in critical thinking, anatomy and physiology, gerontology, and other coursework required to accurately assess and care for sick patients.

We spoke with Casey about her role at Anthology Senior Living and what she enjoys most about her job. Casey said there’s nothing she’d rather do. “When I began working with people with dementia, I fell in love with it,” Casey said. “They are such a fun group of people. You just have to stop and listen to them.”

Casey takes the time to listen to each resident, discovering their individual interests, passions and personalities. She learns all she can about family history, careers, hobbies, and values, so she can ensure each resident’s life remains vibrant and meaningful.

That’s why when Casey adopted a cat named Zamboni in December 2020, she couldn’t wait to tell an Anthology Senior Living resident named Susan (a pseudonym).

“Susan absolutely loves cats,” Casey said. “Every day I’d take pictures Zamboni and show them to her.” 

When Zamboni began clawing furniture and pillows in Casey’s apartment, the first person to hear about it was Susan. Casey installed a webcam to monitor Zamboni during the day and she soon found herself sharing the live video footage with Susan. “Susan and I loved watching Zamboni on video together,” Casey said.

Seeing the joy Zamboni brought Susan, Casey wanted to do even more for her.  On her weekend off from work, Casey brought Zamboni to Susan’s apartment as a surprise. “Zamboni laid on her lap and licked her,” Casey said, “Susan cried tears of joy.”

When other residents are less inclined to articulate their needs and interests, Casey partners with family members to ensure everyone is aligned.  “We’re there to make sure each resident is taken care of and that they get what they need. We’re their voices when they don’t have one.”

On a daily basis, Casey communicates with family members by text, phone and even video chat to help alleviate any anxiety around their diagnosis or individualized care plan. “When it comes to memory loss you have to take it day by day and minute by minute,” Casey said. “I always tell the family members that I wish I could have known their family member before the dementia.” She said she wants to understand and experience how different they were. 

“Casey always makes that extra effort,” according to Executive Director Ida H. “She cares for each resident like they’re her own family.”

Unfortunately, Casey’s mother passed away in January 2021, after a two-year battle with cancer.  “My colleagues helped get me through an extremely difficult time,” Casey said.  While Casey took time off to heal, her coworkers texted her every day making sure she was OK. “Work is my happy place,” Casey said.

Casey acknowledged there are days when a resident, like anyone, might be having a bad day. “There are times when you don’t know what to do or say to make it better for them,” Casey said. She provides nursing care and a favorite treat – whether it’s a milkshake or a piece of candy – anything to brighten their day. Often, Casey added, a resident simply wants to feel heard. “I will sit with them in their room and just listen,” Casey said. “People just need someone to talk to.”

When Casey sees a family grappling with the decision to move a family member into the community, she is eager to provide reassurance. “The families need to know they’re doing the right thing,” Casey said. “I want them to know their loved one will be taken care of here. I treat every resident like they’re family.”