On Sept. 1, 2018, staff members from Evergreen Nursing Home in Alamosa, Colorado, took five residents to a local antique car show called the Early Iron Festival.
Executive Director Kara Finger, Health Information Manager Jennifer Carr and Staff Development Coordinator Rick Rodriguez teamed up with a few other members of the staff to coordinate the outing for the residents.
“Attending events such as this can be particularly challenging for us, since a majority of our residents have dementia,” said Finger. “They require one-on-one care, so the fact that five members of our leadership team were willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to take the residents is pretty significant.”
In addition to coordinating the residents’ care and transportation to and from the event, Rodriguez went a step further by reserving an easily accessible parking spot at the show to allow residents with obstacles – such as wheelchairs or muscle weakness – to observe the parade comfortably.
“This was the first year we’ve been able to attend the event,” said Carr. “In the past, we’ve been limited in our ability to attend the show since it’s usually held in grassy areas that are hard for residents with limited mobility to get to. But this year, Rick was able to get us a prime spot right where the entrance to the parade was so that we could attend.”
The show is one of the largest in the country, with more than 600 entries. Over 300 classic beauties from past decades paraded down the street, featuring cars from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. And as the bright red, green and powder blue cars drove by, associates said residents seemed to be filled with sweet, nostalgic memories.
“It was important for me to do this because it helped bring our residents back to a time when they were younger,” said Rodriguez. “A lot of them watched as the cars passed and said, ‘Oh, I had that car.’ It was important for me that they be able to attend the event so that they could remember the happy times of their past.”