A home on the Hill: Having a care at Queen Anne Manor

Taking good care of our senior citizens is an issue close to the heart of Patricia DeVol Nadon, marketing director at Queen Anne Manor. She tended her aging and ailing parents for five years before they died - her mother last November and her father half a year later, in April.

Nadon has worked in marketing for many years, for companies such as Pepsi and the Paramount and Moore theaters, and as an independent contractor during her parents' illnesses. When a marketing position opened up five months ago at Queen Anne Manor, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to combine her professional and personal experiences.

Fortunately, so did the management at Queen Anne Manor, and they hired her.

Queen Anne Manor, at 100 Crockett St. a block east of Safeway, was founded in 1979 by Rome Ventura and Linda Alexander as a retirement home for independent seniors. The two local women have owned it ever since.

In 1988 it became an assisted-living residence for seniors offering a broad range of assistance, from simple medication reminders and an escort service, to Focus Care, which helps residents with every task of living imaginable.

The facility provides Continuing Care: if a resident's needs increase, so do the services. There is no need to move. In addition, there are no buy-ins or contracts, simply month-to-month fees that range from $2,500 to $3,500, depending on services.

Since Nadon has been on board, almost all of the 114 rooms at the Manor have been filled. Many current Manor residents lived in the neighborhood for years before they entered the facility. So although their abode has changed, their neighborhood has not, and many remain close to their families.

A Health & Wellness Fair, Nadon's brainshild, has been scheduled for Sept. 10. "To educate people about resources is to empower them," she says. Products, services and nonprofit organizations that promote a better quality of life for seniors will be featured.

Fostering that quality-of-life theme - and riding a national wave - Nadon has initiated a Short Stay Program. (Short stays are also available at Bayview Manor and The Viewpointe, Queen Anne's two other retirement facilities, but theirs are not well-defined, advertised programs.)

Queen Anne Manor's Short Stay Program is two-pronged. The Respite Program offers temporary stays from a few days' to several weeks' duration, giving families relief from their caregiving duties and granting them some free time, perhaps even enough for a vacation. The Respite Program also hosts seniors from out of town who travel to Seattle for weddings or other occasions. For them, an assisted-living residence is often safer accommodation than a hotel. So far, five seniors have stayed in the designated Respite Room.

The other purpose of the Short Stay Program is to allow seniors to experience what it's really like at the Manor, enabling them to make a more informed decision as they contemplate a permanent stay. Nadon recommends a month's sojo0urn to get a true feel for the place.

So far, the two model "showrooms" for Short Stays remain empty, but three people have expressed interest in the program.

"Many people have fears about retirement home or assisted living" says Nadon. "They are hesitant to face their mortality, and they drag their feet looking at options."

They also fear constraint. "They don't want to give up their own space and independence," she says.

Nadon hopes the Short Stay Program will dispel those fears. "Once they're here, they'll see that they have a lovely private apartment, that they can come and go as they please, that all their needs will be met, they will be comfortable, they don't have to worry anymore."

The Short Stay Program also serves as an ally to families. If an older loved one resists the idea of assisted living, a short stay can soften the idea.

Some seniors know they need assistance, and even have a sense of urgency about it, especially after a fall or similar crisis. But there are others who still live at home and are not aware that they need assistance. "If someone's only significant problem is short-term memory loss, for example, they should not be cooking," Nadon says firmly.

"That is why there are no kitchens in our rooms," she adds. "It's much too risky." Meals are served three times a day in a large, open diningroom. The menu is posted conspicuously near the diningroom entrance, and small menus sit on the table at each place setting. Meals are healthy, and portion sizes are up to the individual. Best of all, with residents convened in one place, mealtime is a social time.

"Many seniors who live alone try hard to keep it together," says Nadon. "Once they get to Queen Anne Manor, they relax." Not only are they happier, but often healthier, because in many cases they eat better.

Nadon thinks the propensity to carry on alone is a "generational thing": "Our parents' generation does not ask for help when they need it," she explains. "I hope we Baby Boomers take better care of ourselves and are more proactive in our later years."

The building that houses Queen Anne Manor was built at the turn of the last century as Seattle's original Children's Hospital. Most of the young patients had polio. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a polio victim himself, once visited before he became President - an occasion that some residents of Queen Anne Manor may remember.

A main hall is lined with photographs from those days. The crisp, well-composed black-and-white pictures testify to the building's good uses. In one, the anonymous pho-tographer looks down on the second-story deck. Bedridden children ring a small orchestra, out in the open air.

Today, residents can enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres every evening in the parlor or on the same second-story deck, commanding vistas of both the Olympic and Cascade mountains.

Not a bad view in the evening.

Queen Anne Manor is at 100 Crockett St. Phone 282-5001.

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