Staff at the Life Care Center of the Willows in Valparaiso donned festive cat ears and brought out fall decor to celebrate Halloween with their residents on Tuesday. However, this year’s tradition was no regular celebration, as one resident turned 100 years-old on October 31st.
Jessica Eldred, activities director for the center, said events like these are what makes Life Care Center of the Willows feel like home.
"It's important to make the residents feel like they're part of the community," Eldred said. "When they come here from their community they might feel like that was taken away from them. We want to keep that alive for them. Just because they're here doesn't mean the party stops."
Life Care Center of the Willows is a top provider of long-term healthcare specializing in skilled nursing and rehabilitation services in Northwest Indiana. While it provides a temporary recovery stay for some, the facility also is home to several long-term residents. Events like these are regular part of daily life no matter the occasion.
On Friday, Life Care Center of the Willows was filled to the brim with trick-or-treaters going door to door to residents’ rooms for candy. Earlier on Tuesday, they did Halloween-themed exercises like the “monster mash” and painted pumpkin patches on canvas.
“Jessica is very good at her role as activity director,” Tami Adams, executive director, said. “The residents always have plenty to do, whether a holiday or not, and we always try to celebrate holidays with more than one day of events.”
Flossie Thomason, the birthday honoree, has been a resident for a few months, but has made quite the impression. Eldred said Thomason is always quick to give a smile or laugh.
"To be here at 100 years is quite the accomplishment," Tami Adams, executive director, said. "She's the sweetest lady, she reminds me of my great grandma. To be able to give her a day is special, since she's celebrating her 100th birthday with us."
The residents and staff gathered and sang Happy Birthday, as they presented her with a cake decorated in her favorite colors: red, white and blue.
“I think it’s wonderful that people treat you nice and feed you good- all these girls are wild,” said a smiling Thomason, referring to Eldred and the staff. “They’re going to make me well again.”
After Thomason received her cake and bouquet of roses, she looked around and asked, “Who are the stinkers that did this?” Eldred laughed and responded, “We are the stinkers that did this!”
“It feels great to be honored by you all, I thank you for it,” Thomason announced to the crowd after they sang Happy Birthday to her.
“You’re worth it,” Eldred responded.
Thomason was born and raised in Kentucky, but moved here with her family to The Region, and worked as a saleslady. She had two great daughters and a wonderful husband. Since her birthday lands on Halloween, Thomason has celebrated many years reveling in the Halloween spirit.
“We always dressed up, from when I was a kid, to when I grew up,” she said. “It’s such a fun thing to do.”
Adams said the staff takes care of the residents like they’re taking care of family at Life Care Center of the Willows.
“Overall, it’s very positive for the residents,” Eldred said. “It makes them feel they always have something to look forward to. It goes to show that life isn’t over, it’s just a new chapter for them, a fun chapter.”
For more information on Life Care Center of the Willows, visit http://lifecarecenterofthewillows.com/