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Therapy Success Story: Overcoming Multiple Back Surgeries to Walk Again

Seeing her face as the entire therapy gym clapped for her first steps was very emotional.


It’s unimaginable, something no one ever dreams of happening, an injury leaving you immobile, but for Katherine Crain this was her new reality. She broke her back in February of 2016 then had surgery the following month to fix the injury. “Three to four days later, I sneezed and broke my back again,” she shared. She was then scheduled for a second surgery that would involve two screws to be placed in her back to stabilize it. After this procedure, Katherine says she was able to walk again without assistance. However, all of this changed once again in the Fall of 2017 when one of the screws slipped. At this point, she needed help to get around and started using a walker. Her doctors scheduled a third back surgery. “I was scheduled for my third back surgery to put five more screws in to try to stop my discs from breaking. Two days later I had to have emergency surgery because a screw slipped again. After this surgery, I was not able to walk,” she shared.



Katherine Crain working with Physical Therapy Assistant Andy Goodnight at The Springs.



Once the surgery was complete, Katherine started undergoing Physical Therapy at Tahlequah Hospital. “I didn’t make much progress so I was transferred to The Springs in November of 2017. For the first six weeks I worked with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, but I wasn’t able to even stand. I started thinking I would be crippled for the rest of my life. I did not think I would ever walk again. I couldn’t even move my toes.” In this trying time it can be hard to keep your spirits up, but Katherine had help celebrating those small victories. “We look for small successes. I encouraged and helped Catherine write down any new progress on her calendar because sometimes it’s hard to remember how far you have come. We talked about how important it’s to keep a positive outlook. I also brought her favorite soda from Sonic a few times. We built a personal connection where she felt she could share when she was frustrated and we could discuss options,” said Rhonda Stabler, Speech Therapist with Rehab Source at The Springs.

An emotional time that would have discouraged anyone, but soon it was all about to change! “One day, I could move my big toe on the left foot. My other toes on my left foot started moving shortly after, but not on my right foot. I felt a little hope,” Katherine shared. She kept working with the skilled therapy team at The Springs and she began to regain more and more movement. After about three week when her first toe started moving, she was up and walking 119 feet with a walker without talking breaks. “I feel like a miracle happened. I feel like the therapists who worked with me gave their all and I did too and together we made it happen.” Katherine’s therapists feel honored to be part of her incredible journey. “I feel honored to be a small part in her recovery. The therapy team she had at The Springs along with her motivation all made her success possible. Seeing her face as the entire therapy gym clapped for her first steps was very emotional,” shared Stabler.


Alzheimer’s or Normal Aging?

That’s the hardest thing about having a parent that has Alzheimer’s Disease. 

After Diagnosis, Understanding What To Do Next

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s in that moment the world stops, then your mind goes in to overdrive trying to figure out what to do next. The first step is to take a deep breath because there are several paths to find support and information. Within this blog, we hope to empower and inform you with the tools needed to put you and your family more at ease. 

Several Grace Living Center communities – both skilled nursing facilities and Assisted Living centers – feature Alzheimer care units where our staff receives training to understand the disease process and care strategies. 

Bill Luta, Activity Director for Grace Living Center Northwest

“My Dad died of Alzheimer’s. We noticed little things like his boots were on backwards, his cowboy hat was all dirty and cowboys are very meticulous about their cowboy hats. The big thing was we woke up one morning and Daddy wasn’t in the house. We figured he was out riding. I got the tractor and starting feeding the horses then found him by our pond in his underwear, not talking. I was like, ok, this is not my father. That’s the hardest thing about having a parent that has Alzheimer’s Disease,” shared Bill Luta, the Activity Director at Grace Living Center Northwest. Bill Luta was called to be a caregiver for those with Alzheimer’s after losing his father to the devastating disease. He now strives each day as the Activity Director at Grace Living Center Northwest to bring happiness to each resident and loved one who has been touched by the brain disorder. 

Cleo Lane has been a resident at Grace Living Center Northwest for around 5 years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She is one of the happiest people you will meet. During the interview she was very upbeat, smiling and laughing. A laugh that couldn’t help, but paint a big smile on your face. “I enjoy the singing, I enjoy helping other peoples and enjoy cooking if I can,” she said. Before Ms. Lane came to Grace Living Center Northwest she lived a very isolated and sedentary lifestyle. Now, she’s become more active. “I feel like I was somebody special,” she shared. One of Ms. Lane’s favorite activities? “I love to dance!”

The numbers are jaw dropping: every 66 seconds someone in the United States will develop this devastating disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s not a normal part of aging and does worsen over time robbing the person of their most prized possessions, their memories. Currently, more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and that number is only expected to get higher. Experts predict by 2050 as many as 16 million Americans could be living with this irreversible, progressive brain disorder. 

Carla Scull, the Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, shared with us some of the most common warning signs and symptoms for loved ones questioning if it’s Alzheimer’s or normal aging. 

If you notice any of the Alzheimer’s warning signs in yourself or a loved one, schedule an appointment with a medical professional right away.

“We have support groups all over the state. Visit our website at alz.org/oklahoma and enter your zip code to see support groups and educational classes that we offer in your area. I have attached a flier for an upcoming event in February that everyone is invited to join. You can also call 800.272.3900 for more information,” shared Carla Scull, the Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Download A PDF of The Upcoming Alzheimer's Educational "Savvy Caregiver" Series at MetroTech in February 2018


Cherished Christmas Memories from Yesteryear

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.

~ Peg Bracken

It’s a time to be cherished as we laugh, smile and even shed some tears of joy with family and loved ones while celebrating the holiday season. And it’s these heart warming moments we will look back on and cherish one day. For many of our elders, Christmas brings back treasured moments and traditions spent with family. Some heartfelt and some funny, but all these precious memories will warm the heart. During the month of December we wanted to showcase our residents’ memories of Christmas in our #31DaysOfGrace. These are a few of their stories.

A December birthday makes this story even more special! Happy Birthday to Jessie Lingenfelter, an elder at The Brookfield, who turned 103 years young on December 11th. “I always remember Christmas being a special time; going to the school house to sing and getting to wear the pink silk dress my mother had made for me. The prettiest dress at school,” she said. Jessie also shared with us a memory from her childhood about how her family would all go down to the creek to cut down a Christmas tree. They would then drag it home and decorate it with popcorn and cranberries. One of her all-time favorite gifts you ask? “When my grandmother got me and my sister a porcelain doll. I named her Pansy,” she shared. Such wonderful memories! Thank you Jessie for taking the time to share them with us.

When asked about a special Christmas memory, Iva Appleton, a resident at Grace Living Center Buffalo replied with a story about a Christmas surprise. Iva grew up in a small farming community outside of Buffalo, Oklahoma near her extended family. As soon as she graduated from high school, Iva Chase, married the love of her life, Joe Bill Appleton. Soon after, her husband Joe was sent to World War II where he served for more than 3 years. During that time, their first child was born. “My father-in-law would come to the house and say it’s time for you all to come stay with us,” shared Iva. Her family would tell her the same thing. Iva would spend time with both her husband’s family and her family which was a huge blessing. “I was so fortunate and blessed for the help my extended family provided during those years,” she shared. Iva stayed in touch with her husband Joe Bill while he was serving overseas by writing letters and sending photos of the baby so he would know his son. One special Christmas, Joe Bill was able to come home since his tour had ended. Iva’s sister somehow connected with him and was able to coordinate picking him up from the bus station on Christmas without anyone knowing. Her sister brought Joe Bill home and surprised everyone! “There were lots of tears that Christmas, but more joy than can be put into words,” said Iva. Thanks so much for sharing this heartfelt story of yesteryear!

A Santa tale told by resident Mary Toliver and her brother Kevin Long! One Christmas long ago, Kevin decided to buy a Santa suit to dress up for his nieces and nephews on Christmas. He loved the joy it brought to the family so much, he decided to do it again the following year. Now every year Kevin dresses up as Santa and even rides around in a corvette! His sister Mary really enjoys seeing her brother's custom made costumes each year. Kevin (we mean Santa) helped spread Christmas cheer to all of our elders this year at Plantation Village Nursing Center!

What makes this season so special for many people is the time spent with loved ones! Same goes for Everette Smithson, a resident at Grace Living Center NW 10th. When asked about his favorite Christmas memory from yesteryear, he replied "being around family." He was very excited for this family photo taken this season surrounded by his kids, grandkids and great grandkids! "Not bad for almost 90," he shared! Beautiful family, Mr. Smithson!!

As the saying goes, a photo is worth a thousand words. We currently have 3 generations at Grace Living Center Del City. Ms. Luther Simmons is one of our residents, her daughter Tracey Roberts and granddaughter Shemika Simmons both work for Grace Living Centers. They all agree, the best thing about Christmas is the time they spend together. One of their holiday family traditions is making homemade Gumbo and biscuits. Sounds delicious! 



Volunteerism: Giving The Gift of Time

Volunteers from Timothy Baptist Church visit The Springs in Muskogee

Help change the life of an elder by giving the gift of time!

Volunteering can mean many things to different people but the one constant is the gift of time every volunteer offers. As we travel through this holiday season, many people are looking for ways to give back. We see your interest each week in our Grace Living Center communities as you call, email or stop by offering to help our elders have a brighter day. There are so many ways you can give: from adopting a senior to bringing a group in to sing Christmas carols, from sitting and talking with an elder to lending a helping hand with our various activities. All of these contributions are meaningful and make a bigger impact than you might think.

As a volunteer, talking and listening is what most of of elders wish for. A lot of our residents do not have family that can visit on a regular basis and seeing a volunteer brings them such joy. You wouldn’t believe how much it helps when people just have time to sit and talk.

- Crystal Landers, Activity Director at Grace Living Center Clinton

Angel Garland at Rebold ManorWhether it’s in a long-term care community, church or a community outreach program, there are several ways you can help make an impact upon the lives of Oklahoma seniors. One of the first steps is to simply pick up the phone and call a local organization or a nearby long-term care community. Then ask, how you can help or even offer up an idea you may have. One of the best ways to give back to our elders is to be a listening ear since so many of our elders don’t have loved ones who visit regularly. You’ll also receive invaluable gifts along the way from valuable stories, lessons and experiences of yesteryear shared by our elders.

They should start with the Volunteer Coordinator, but it differs in facilities. That person should have volunteer applications, similar to employment in the way they’re handled for background, etc., and schedule a brief volunteer orientation upon approval of the application. They can establish preferred visiting times and be assigned duties or recommended tasks during the orientation. I also have a volunteer book that has a list of residents with no family involvement and suggested/approved activities for those individuals.

- Alan Washington, Social Services and Admissions Coordinator at Grace Living Center Wildewood

Angel Tree at Grace JenksMost Grace communities have partnered with local businesses and charities during the holidays for programs like the Angel Tree at Grace Living Center Jenks. Here’s how it works: Each resident gets to fill out a list of what they hope to receive, similar to a Santa list. Someone picks the angel off a tree then buys the items listed and returns the unwrapped gifts. Those gifts are then wrapped and delivered to our elders. 

Our facility has had the blessing of having an Angel Tree from the Community for the past 10 years. It’s such a joy to see the smiles and the residents light up when Santa, Mrs. Clause and his elves show up to hand out their gifts. During this time snacks are served around a Christmas tree. Residents have said it feels like they’re at home during Christmas. It’s truly a heart warming time for everyone involved.

Peggy Henningsen, Activity Director at Grace Living Center Jenks

We Need Volunteers Year Round!

The holidays are a time when many individauls, families and organizations take time out of their schedules to volunteer and give back but please know the need is great throughout the year. Whether you find an extra hour here or there each month or week to spend with a senior – or you’re cleaning out a closet or downsizing your book collection and would like to make a gift of your gently used items for the benefit of seniors who are in need, your generosity is welcomed with gratitude at each of our Grace Living Center communities throughout the year. 

Items always needed by our seniors:

  • Socks
  • Blankets
  • Clothes
  • Candy, snacks & soda
  • Books (reading & activity)
  • Art supplies
  • Puzzles
  • Hygiene products (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)

A Veteran's Story: David Bard

Father, husband, son and Veteran

It’s not every day you get to meet someone who went to morse code school. In fact, most younger people may be unfamiliar with what it is. Morse code was used over radios during WWII, the Korean war and the Vietnam war, sending messages via combinations of dots and short dashes that represented letters. 

On this Veteran's Day, in honor of Veterans everywhere, we’re featuring one of the many Veterans we serve each day at our Grace Living Center Communities. David Bard, a resident at Grace Living Center NE 21st, started his journey in the military at the young age of 18 in 1954. “I took basic training at Fort Chaffee Arkansas. From there I went to Germany,” shared Bard. He served after World War II during the occupation in Germany. He started out stringing wire and climbed telephone poles for a short time until they found out he could type. Then his job duties shifted and Mr. Bard would go to supply to type requisitions. He had only been doing this job for a short while when he was told to report to the Battalion Colonel Officer. “He said I want to tell you a little story. When we went to field this last time, it was getting late and their Captain said to stop at the guest house and I’ll buy us a steak. They went in and had a nice steak. And when the came out, the jeep wouldn’t start. It was the worst running jeep in the unit and I don’t know how far they were from where we camped. The captain told the driver he would start walking and if he got the jeep started, to pick him up. The driver got the jeep going, but ran over the Captain while driving back to camp because he didn’t see him. The Captain wasn’t hurt, but after that he wanted to change the driver,” shared Bard. This short story was the Captain’s way of asking Bard to be his new driver. He accepted, but before he could leave, “he says Bard and I said, yes sir. You just remember I’m particular about who runs over me,” Bard shared while laughing.

David BardHe served as the captain’s driver for around a month before being asked if he would like to go to morse code school. Bard was sent to the Army Base in Baumholder Germany for three months to learn the morse code. “I graduated the top man in the class. There were 35 of us that started and there were 15 that finished school. I can understand, you would learn a rhythm. Morse code is a rhythm, it’s dots and dashes and some people just can’t keep up with it.” From there he served as a morse code operator for the remainder of his time in the service. “Without satellites, morse code was the only way you could send messages over a great distance. At that time, we were very valuable. We had only five men in the battalion that could do morse code. And we had a 24 hour a day station. So they put us in the attic of the barracks because we had someone sleeping most of the time,” stated Bard. Each person would work two separate four hour shifts, 6 days each week because somebody had to be on the radio all the time. 

David Bard with his brother Richard.Once Mr. Bard was on U.S. soil after serving abroad, he married his first wife and started working at Tinker Field in Oklahoma City like he had before being deployed. He then moved on to a job at the Daily Oklahoman as a typesetter. The newspaper business must have run in the family because his father worked as an Editor for several years at various newspapers. Mr. Bard also developed a love for flying and obtained his pilot’s license in 1970. At one point, he would travel around with the Air Shows and learned how to do all the stunts. Today, David is 82-years-old and the proud father to two wonderful children, a son and daughter, and two delightful grandkids.

Thank you for your service Mr. Bard - and thank you to all of the men and women who have served our country so valiantly!