In light-hearted spirit, The Haven celebrates 20th anniversary | CraigDailyPress.com

In light-hearted spirit, The Haven celebrates 20th anniversary

Community interaction among hallmarks of The Haven's lifespan so far

Michael Neary

Hayden — As the community celebrated — As the community celebrated The HavenThe Haven’s 20th anniversary Thursday, residents found themselves in a light-hearted mood.'s 20th anniversary Thursday, residents found themselves in a light-hearted mood.

— As the community celebrated The Haven's 20th anniversary Thursday, residents found themselves in a light-hearted mood.

"We just play at everything," said Billie Wilson, as she dipped into the cake and ice cream. "We just relax and laugh and cut up."

The Haven Assisted Living Facility opened in Hayden in July 1996, and it's grown and developed since then. Northwest Colorado Health, formerly the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, acquired it in 2005, and The Haven Community Center — the site of Thursday’s celebration — was completed in 2007.

Director Karen Burley noted a number of activities for residents that are held in the Community Center, including exercise classes, medical services, political events, craft fairs and other gatherings.

She added that the center is also used for outside events — but those events still have an impact on the residents.

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"When my granddaughter got married this last weekend, they put chairs up against the windows in the dining room, and everybody watched the wedding," Burley said. "They love watching and being a part of the community."

Burley said the wedding led residents to reminisce about their own wedding days.

Fluctuating population

The average age of The Haven's residents, Burley said, is 86 years old — older than it was some years ago. Burley said there are currently 19 residents; capacity is 20.

"We used to have a waiting list," she said, but noted that the number of residents dropped when the recession hit in 2008. The Haven accepts Medicaid, Burley said, but private payers tend to remain in their homes longer when the economy becomes strained.

Since that time, however, the number of residents has risen.

"We have not been at 19 out of 20 for a long time," Burley said.

The Haven's mission, as expressed on its website, is to provide independent living to "seniors 55 years or older who do not require skilled nursing care but no longer can, or want, to live alone."

Rise of technology

Burley also noted the impact of technology on residents. That includes digital tracking of medications but also seeps into the social aspects of residents' lives. The much-circulated image of a technologically sophisticated younger generation in contrast to a technologically unsophisticated older one doesn't quite match reality, Burley explained.

"Facebook, computers, surfing the web — we have some people who do that," she said. The Haven has wireless internet, and Burley said residents frequently use an assortment of Nooks, Kindles and various other tablets to read.

"That surprised me how many were hooked up into their electronic books," she said.

Suzi Mariano, director of marketing and development for Northwest Colorado Health, also noted that The Haven has had its own Facebook page for the past few months.

"It's really fun for families," Mariano said during Thursday's celebration. "It's a great way (for the residents) to stay connected with friends and family who are outside the valley."

The Haven's Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/havenseniorlivingfacebook.com/havenseniorliving..

facebook.com/havenseniorliving.

Quest for independence

Elsie Richardson and Kathy Lozinsky have worked at The Haven all 20 years of its operation. Both noted that sacrificing independence is about the toughest thing residents do when they come to The Haven, so Richardson and Lozinsky find ways to help them retain some of that independence.

"We take them on activities outdoors," said Richardson, caregiver supervisor.

"And instead of just hurrying in and helping them, we kind of stay back and encourage them to do those things," added Lozinsky, a caregiver.

"You have to be very patient and let them get dressed on their own," Richardson said.

Richardson mentioned a fall tour in Steamboat Springs that allows residents to see the changing leaves. Residents have also attended activities such as Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, county fairs and various exhibits.

And when it comes to staying sharp, resident Jack Ford has developed some strategies of his own.

"I like crossword puzzles," he said. "They make you think."

Community interaction

Camilla Wall, activities director at The Haven, noted a number of activities that involve the larger community. She said members of Totally Kids come to The Haven to plant flowers, work on crafts projects and participate in other activities. She said people from other outlets visit the residents, as well, including participants with the Boys & Girls Club and members of the Hayden School District.

"They really enjoy having the kids, and the kids really enjoy coming here, too," Wall said. "Sometimes, they'll just come and talk. (The residents) enjoy that, too, because they can tell their stories, and they have a good audience."

Lisa Brown, CEO of Northwest Colorado Health, described The Haven's work as a vital part of Northwest Colorado Health's overarching goals. Brown was among those present at Thursday's celebration.

"The Haven is just a really special place," she said. "People are able to remain, living their lives, in the community that they've lived in their whole life. Having that independence and self-direction is really at the heart of all of our work."

At one of the tables where residents were celebrating, Billie Wilson expressed, in a slightly different way, a similar sense of independence.

"We may be old, but we really like to have fun," she said.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.