Former First Lady Laura Bush delivered the awards banquet keynote and presented the six senior living Hero Awards at today’s ALFA 2013 conference day. Mrs. Bush first spoke about her joy at seeing her first grandchild, born in April to her daughter Jenna and husband Henry Hager. She told the audience the family is currently ensconced in “finding nicknames for the grandparents,” saying, “Maybe ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ have gone out of style, like we’re not really old enough to be grandparents.”
She talked about her parents-in-law, George H. W. and Barbara Bush, noting, “they’re showing me how to age with grace.” She shared her late father’s story of struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and how her own family coped with the heartbreak as their faces gradually faded from his mind. In a poignant twist, she related how a physician had tested her father’s cognitive recall in an exam: “The doctor asked him, ‘Who is the president?’ He couldn’t remember President Clinton’s name, so the doctor said, ‘Then, who was the last president?’ he couldn’t remember that, either, even though it was my father-in-law.”
Senior care is becoming more and more a family matter rather than a resident matter, especially when it comes to memory care, she noted. “Declining health is a challenge for anyone, but it’s made even more challenging when it’s accompanied by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s,” she said. “I call it ‘the sad goodbye.’” She praised those who choose to be senior caregivers, saying that their dedication to making seniors feel well and valuable is vital to delivering quality.
Mrs. Bush assisted the ALFA executive members in presenting the 2013 Hero Awards for excellence in senior living, which included several caregivers, a director of culinary services, and a memory care volunteer. Congratulations to this year’s six recipients (in order of presentation):
Sarah Snavely – Caregiver, The Woods at Cedar Run, Camp Hill, Pa.
Deborah Martin – Caregiver, The Seasons (Genesis Healthcare), Lewisburg, W. Va.
Jane Bongiovanni – Caregiver, Plymouth Crossings, Plymouth, Mass.
Alexis Parks – Caregiver, Holley Court Terrace (Brookdale Senior Living), Oak Park, Ill.
Leo Aguilar, Director of Culinary Services, Silverado Senior Living, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Fern Marshall – Memory care volunteer, Emeritus at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo.