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A Journey for Her Mother

By Julie Anderson

 

The whole point behind the Boom Baby Boomer website is to help us do better than those who have gone before us. Take better care of ourselves and better care of each other. This website didn't even enter my mind until I met Judy Berry: a woman who owns and operates two amazing Alzheimer's/Dementia facilities, a woman who makes a difference every single day, a woman I am proud to introduce as a Boom Baby Boomer 'Inspiring Person.'

Berry is married to Julius Keya, who is the brains behind the technical aspect of this site and the creator of our Memory Moments videos. I met this amazing couple several years ago while working as a television producer for a Minneapolis station. My chief photographer had suggested an in-depth look at Lakeview Ranch, a facility that takes hard to handle Alzheimer's and Dementia patients who have often been forced out of traditional facilities because of the difficulty in dealing with their behaviors.

 

Berry began her journey because her mother, Evelyn Holly, was once one of those so called aggressive residents. Berry says her mother spent the last seven years of her life being bounced from one nursing home or residential dementia facility to another. The last year of her life she spent strapped in a chair and drugged to make her compliant.

 

Berry says she was told over and over the kind of dignified care she envisioned for her mother was too expensive to provide and simply didn't exist. So at 55 years old she quit her job as a regional sales manager for a BBQ Rib company and used her life savings to become the founder, owner and CEO of Lakeview Ranch, Inc.

Think about this. How many of us would have that incredible courage? Berry took a risk most of us would only talk about. She now runs two residential homes in central Minnesota where people with dementia live out their lives with the love, dignity and quality of life they deserve.

Berry's specialized model of care teaches those who love people with any type of dementia, including Alzheimer's that even when their mom or dad or sister can't communicate, they are still very much there. Berry says they must accept the person is still there and has feelings in order for them to expend the energy necessary to communicate. She says unmet emotional needs are the primary cause of behaviors. At Lakeview Ranch she has highstaff- to- resident ratios, fulltime nurses and intense ongoing training and support for staff.

 

In addition, because her mission has always included providing this higher quality care to ALL persons, regardless of financial ability. She created the Dementia Care Foundation to subsidize the cost for residents who can't afford to pay in full. She tells Boom Baby Boomer she has to raise funds every month which means sending out hundreds of letters to receive $100 here, $50 there, raising awareness of the mission of the Dementia Care Foundation and holding several fundraisers a year. "When you want to provide quality care to people of any financial background, you have to raise money from other sources," Berry says.

 

To help with fundraising she is hosting a dinner and silent auction September 29. To learn more about the event and how you can contribute go to www.dementiacarefoundation.org I know I will be taking part. It's not often you get to meet someone who has given up a nice, easy retirement to work long hours every day so she can help make other lives more pleasant. The least I can do is help.

 

Berry says many people tell her she should slow down. But she doesn't. She has an inner passion and there is so much yet to be done including fighting for better legislation which will help all of us as we age.

 

To learn more about Berry and see the special residents at Lakeview Ranch click on Memory Moments on the right side of the screen.

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