Williamston hosts loving homes for the elderly

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By Bryce Airgood
The Williamston Post

Alternative homes in Williamston infographic

Gary Wilson is a resident of Haven of Rest, one of the adult day care centers near me. He enjoys living there because he says he is a youngster and can help out the other residents. Wilson is 64.


LeeAnn Williams poses by the new fireplace that was installed in Haven of Rest.

Agnes Dexter, a resident at Crosaires, feels she fits in with the other residents there age-wise.

“We’re all getting close to the same category – 90 and beyond,” she said.

In the past couple years, Ingham County and surrounding counties have had a substantial increase in seniors. A person who is 60 and older is considered an older adult or senior according to the Tri-County Office on Aging.

“Between 2000 and 2010 there was a 20,000 number increase in the number of seniors in these counties,” said LeeAnna Olson, community relations and grants specialist for the Tri-County Office on Aging, Lansing office. “And it’s only going to increase. That’s a guarantee as the baby boomers age.”

That could be why there are so many assisted living and convalescent homes in Williamston. Not only does Williamston have places the elderly can live, there are also others in the surrounding cities of Haslett and East Lansing.

The fact there are so many people and places that care about taking care of older people can be comforting to some. Some people might be worried that growing older they will become a burden.


Agnes and Howard Cowan sitting together after bible study.

“I think there’s an unfortunate mind set (or) worldview becoming more and more prevalent that once you stop working you are no longer valuable to society,” said LeeAnn Williams, co-owner and administrator of Haven of Rest. “So untrue. The fact it costs to take care of them doesn’t make them any less valuable.”

Haven of Rest

Haven of Rest provides adult foster care for its residents. LeeAnn Williams and her husband, Lloyd Williams, first purchased the property in June of 2000, but did not get the license to provide foster care until March of 2001. Before they could get the license they had to widen doorways and add fire alarms.


Gary Wilson, the “youngster” of Haven of Rest.

Their motivation for homing Haven of Rest came from a personal experience Lloyd Williams had. A pastor Lloyd Williams worked with had a brain tumor and had to go into a nursing home. Lloyd Williams would visit the pastor and saw that he was being neglected. LeeAnn Williams said that the pastor was not getting the help he needed when it came to food and bathroom needs. The pastor eventually passed away, and left the Williams with a desire to help the elderly.

“We made a commitment before God we would do something,” LeeAnn Williams said. Ten years later, Haven of Rest welcomed its first resident on June 2, 2001.

Haven of Rest has 18 beds but only 14 residents currently. A couple of the residents are Agnes and Howard Cowan. They moved into Haven of Rest when Agnes Cowan could no longer take care of her husband, who has dementia. When picking a place to live, one thing was very important to the couple.

“When we moved in that was the thing, that we had to be together,” said Agnes Cowan.


Carole and Philip Heinrich sitting together.

Agnes Cowan’s favorite part about Haven of Rest is that it is Christian. She enjoys that Haven of Rest offers Bible study.

Some residents need more help than others, and not all couples can stay together like Agnes and Howard Cowan. Another resident is Philip Heinrich. His wife, Carole Heinrich, lives in a condo close to Haven of Rest. Philip Heinrich has Parkinson’s disease, which made his body and mind deteriorate.

“(He) went from walking to cane to walker to wheelchair,” said Carole Heinrich.

Philip Heinrich moved in after Jan. 1 because his wife wanted him home for one more family Christmas dinner. However, Haven of Rest was not the first place the couple went to. They first went to Independence Village, which was “good for independence, but not good for us” said Carole Heinrich.

They found what they were looking for at Haven of Rest.

“Here someone’s here to jump to his call,” said Carole Heinrich. “You don’t find this in a big nursing home.”


Walter poses with the jar used in the jelly bean toss at the Crosaires Easter egg hunt.

Carole Heinrich says the hardest part of having Philip Heinrich at Haven of Rest is being apart. She said that there’s been “a lot of tears, a lot of anger.” But having him here is a comfort to her.

“They’re so very kind. (They) don’t blame him and don’t make him feel bad,” she said. “There’s nothing bad I could say about it (Haven of Rest).”


Another place that the elderly can go is Crosaires, which is different from Haven of Rest in a couple ways. One is that Crosaires has six residency spots, and according to LeeAnn Williams has residents that are physically more active than those at Haven of Rest.

Todd Walter was the “brain child” behind Crosaires. Walter was inspired to create Crosaires after having a personal experience with a nursing home his grandmother went to.

“It was not that she was not getting good treatment,” said Walter. “She wasn’t getting good care.”

Walter tries to do more for the residents at Crosaires.

“Here we honor elderhood by continuously creating a culture of well-being rich in meaning and purpose,” he said.


Employee Emily Braman prepares food for residents Virginia Ellefson and Agnes Dexter.

Crosaires does this by having “care and community intersect.”

An example would be the Crosaires annual Easter egg hunt. This is an Easter egg hunt done for a need in the community. In preparation for this event the elders at Crosaires have stuffing parties where they stuff the eggs for the hunt. Some will also help hide eggs for the hunt, as well as getting their family to help as well.

One family member who has helped hide eggs for the Easter egg hunt was Celeste Frawley. Her father, who moved in March 15, initially went to a nursing home. However, Frawley said that his “money was going too quickly.”

Frawley feels better with her father at Crosaires than anywhere else.

“(It’s) the only place I could sleep at night knowing (Dad) was getting good care,” she said. “All the people working here strive to let the residents know they care.”

One way residents are shown they are individually cared for is by being given their own special ornament to hang on the tree at Christmas. The ornament is hung up every year, even after the death of the resident, to honor them.


Virginia Ellefson poses with some of the decorations in her room that her family made her. Residents are allowed to decorate their rooms to their liking.

There’s also home cooking every day. Residents can even request food and beverages at unusual times. One resident, Lois McCorvie, used to wake up at 3 a.m. and request a hot drink from the staff.

Having someone around all the time is Agnes Dexter’s favorite part of living at Crosaires. Before she lived there she lived by herself, and described it as dreary and lonely.

“When I was by myself I sometimes wouldn’t see another living person,” she said.

The residents aren’t the only ones who enjoy being at Crosaires.

“I like everything about my job,” said Emily Braman, an employee at Crosaires. “Not many people can say that anymore.”

She also says that this job “isn’t about the care, it’s getting to know the person.”

Although both Crosaires and Haven of Rest are residencies for the elderly, they are not exactly the same. While Williams says that her residents love Bingo, dominoes and crosswords, Walter isn’t as fond of them.


One of Dexter’s favorite hobbies at Crosaires is reading.

“We don’t play Bingo,” he said. “We don’t play stereotypes like that.”

Although they are not the same, they are not rivals either. In fact Walter used to volunteer at Haven of Rest before he created Crosaires, according to Williams.

“I don’t look at him as a competitor,” said Williams. “There’s always people that need care.”

As for the residents of Williamston, it appears there are at least two places that can fill their need for care as elders and plenty of other options as well.


Different types of housing for the elderly

Assisted Living: A home where elders are still able to live independently but have someone there to care for them on a day-to-day basis if needed.

Independent Living: The lowest level of care an elder can get. Can be open to those that are 55 and above.

Continuing Care Retirement Community: Has multiple levels of care so that an elder can age and be taken care of every step of the way.

Home Care Services: This provides a range of services where someone would go to the elder’s home and provide medical or companion services or both.

Nursing Homes: Provides 24-hour care with employees who have some form of nursing degree. Offers a higher level of care.

Adult Day Care: Provides a place for the elderly to be dropped off during the day while the primary caregiver might be at work.

*Source: http://www.seniorliving.net/TypesOfCare

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