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Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, is inviting the public to participate in its Longest Day fundraiser on Friday, June 21to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. The event encourages thousands of people worldwide to host an activity they are passionate about or the favorite activity of a loved one, and the senior living community picked walking. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., the senior living community will host a walkathon for people of all ages and abilities. Waltonwood Cary Parkway Executive Director Matthew VanAuker and other associates at the community will participate the entire time. The community will have food, games and giveaways for all who attend. While the walkathon at Waltonwood Cary Parkway (750 SE Cary Parkway) is free and open to the public, any donations are highly appreciated and go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We are excited to host this public event to support those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, whether they are living with it or care for someone who does,” said VanAuker. “I want to walk all day to show that together, the strength of our light will outshine the darkness of Alzheimer’s. Many of the residents and associates have a loved one or friend affected by this disease, and we want them to know we stand with them in this fight. We are participating in The Longest Day as a team to recognize the dedication, compassion and, most importantly, the love that caregivers share with those who suffer from dementia. We hope everyone will bring their walking shoes and help us take the right step in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.”

The fundraiser is held annually on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) because the duration of this sunrise-to-sunset event symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is a global epidemic. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than five million people living with the disease and 47 million people worldwide suffering from dementia. Waltonwood Cary Parkway has a memory care neighborhood and understands firsthand the importance of providing specialized care and recognizing the hard work and dedication of their caregivers.

“We have an amazing group of people who give 110 percent each day as they engage our memory care residents” said Allison Whitaker, memory care life enrichment manager. “We want them to know how much we appreciate their commitment and that it doesn’t go unnoticed. This will be a meaningful event for so many at the community. Raising money and awareness will not only help fund research, it also encourages others to keep their bodies and minds healthy. We hope the public stops by, enjoys the food and games and learns more ways they can support the Alzheimer’s Association. Together, we can show those fighting this disease that they are not alone.”

If you are interested in donating or attending, please call 919-460-7330.

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For many, being a nurse isn’t just a career – it’s a calling. Just ask Janet Wright and Dottie Wallin, who have more than 70 years of combined nursing experience. Janet is now retired and calls Waltonwood Cary Parkway (a premier senior living community) home. She graduated from Syracuse University and spent more than five decades as a nurse, retiring just four years ago at the age of 72. She worked in different avenues of nursing, including public health, nursing education and as a nurse manager at a free medical clinic. She says nursing is more than just being hands on, you must have knowledge and assessment skills. Even though Janet is retired, she still recognizes when people need help and is always willing to lend an extra hand.

“Nursing is a rewarding career. It takes a special person to hold that position because they have to see beyond themselves and care for others,” said Janet. “It was a different time when I went to school. I didn’t have many options. It was either become a nurse or an educator, and I don’t regret my decision. I appreciated being able to go down different paths of nursing throughout my career. I matured each time I tried something new and grew to believe in myself. The last position I held at the free medical clinic was life changing. I started as a volunteer and worked my way up to nurse manager. Being able to provide free care to people and educate patients about their health was a wonderful feeling. After retiring, I still find myself wanting to help others. I’m a people person, and I don’t think that will ever go away.”

While Wright is retired, Wallin is currently the assisted living Resident Care Manager nurse at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. She went to nursing school in Charlotte and started her career in 1995 at an acute care hospital. She then took a position in long term care where she began working with seniors and never looked back. Wallin has been with Waltonwood Cary Parkway for almost a year and says working with seniors is her passion. She tries to make a difference in someone’s life each day, and the residents leave a positive impact on hers.

“I’ve always been fascinated with anatomy and physiology, so pursuing a career in the medical field was something I knew I wanted to do,” said Wallin. “When I went to school, I never imagined I would spend my career helping seniors, but I am so glad I have. It is a career path I stumbled upon, but it has been the most satisfying experience for me. Most nurses are passionate about what they do and take their roles seriously. It’s a privilege to provide care and be an advocate for residents. They know they can count on me, and that warms my heart. The industry is constantly changing, but one thing I know will never change is the love and compassion nurses have for whomever they help. It’s not always an easy job, but it’s definitely a gratifying career with many opportunities.”

“Janet and Dottie are two inspiring women who have made a meaningful impact on many people’s lives during their extensive careers,” said Matthew VanAuker, executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. “We thank them for putting others before themselves and giving back to those in need. Our residents receive the most innovative care here at the community, and we appreciate the contributions of all our nurses. We are also grateful to nurses who paved the way for others to succeed in the medical field. We are honored to celebrate nurses during National Nurses Week and look forward to doing so for years to come.” 

National Nurses Week starts each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. 

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Every Friday, you’ll find a 25-pound labradoodle named Ellie making her way through assisted living and memory care at Waltonwood Cary Parkway (a premier senior living community). She doesn’t belong to any residents, but rather a local woman who wants to brighten the days of seniors through pet therapy. Michele Hardy raised Ellie since she was a puppy and is training her to be a therapy dog. Pet therapy has numerous mental and emotional benefits for seniors, including socialization, mental stimulation, higher comfort levels and a boost in self-esteem. The residents love having Ellie visit, that’s why Hardy says it’s important to bring her each week.

“We plan our visits around an activity so we can interact with as many residents as possible. In memory care that is in the common area where residents gather after lunch and in assisted living, it is usually around bingo,” said Hardy. “We even make house calls to the residents who weren’t able to attend the activities. Ellie is particularly fond of one resident we visit who lost her beloved cat shortly before we started our visits. Team members at Waltonwood thought Ellie might help fill the void. Even though Ellie isn’t a cat, she and the resident have formed a special bond, and they both enjoy their weekly visit.”

The journey to become a therapy dog started before Hardy got Ellie. She always liked helping others, and knew pet therapy would benefit seniors. Hardy also wanted to have a closer bond with Ellie. She worked with her alone for quite a while, but then started taking Ellie to classes with a local pet business to polish some of the required skills Ellie needed. Now, she’s been making an impact on seniors at Waltonwood Cary Parkway for just over a year.

“Saturday visits to Waltonwood were part of the training,” said Hardy. “Ellie was initially shy during her visits, but over time she has become very comfortable and much more interactive with the residents. I’ve witnessed the benefits of pet therapy both for Ellie and the residents firsthand, and it is truly something special.”

“Residents of Waltonwood Cary Parkway enjoy the benefits of having Ellie come to the community for pet therapy,” said Richard Mabe, executive director. “They are happier and socialize more when Ellie is around, and spirits remain high long after Ellie leaves. She is the sweetest dog and has really made an impact on residents in memory care and assisted living. We appreciate Michele bringing Ellie to the community each week.”  

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To honor women and what they’ve accomplished, Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, hosted its annual Ladies of Legacy Achievement Awards luncheon to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. North Carolina Assisted Living Association President and CEO Frances Messer was the keynote speaker.

“We were honored to host our second Ladies of Legacy Award luncheon and let the residents know they are valued, not just during Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, but all the time,” said Richard Mabe, executive director. “We have many residents with fascinating stories who have accomplished a lot in their lives both here in Raleigh and across the country. It’s important to let them know they paved the way for other women to achieve their dreams. Our luncheon last year and this year was such a success, we decided to make it annual event. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor these fine women.”

During the event, residents were recognized with three main awards: the Humanitarian Award, which identifies the contributions of someone who has improved the lives and living conditions of others; the Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes the achievements of entrepreneurship by someone who started one or more business; and the Kindred Heart Award, which honors someone who has demonstrated outstanding courage, passion and generosity. Women were nominated by family and friends for the awards, and the winners will be announced the day of the luncheon. A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to one special resident. Louise Yarborough, 90, who spent more than 40 years as a missionary in Alaska won the award last year.

“The Lifetime Achievement Award was a complete surprise to me. I thought there were only three awards, and then I noticed my family walk through the door along with representatives from the Baptist convention, so I knew something was going on,” said Yarborough. “It was a moving experience and one I am eternally grateful for. It was a treasured day for me. I am so appreciative that I was recognized, and it is something I will also remember.”

Yarborough says being a missionary was her calling. After graduating from Meredith College, while working as an associational missionary in North Carolina, she heard about an opportunity in Alaska. She left North Carolina and held several positions in the 49th state including: summer missionary where she taught vacation bible school, a volunteer at the state Baptist paper, the executive secretary of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), trainer and teacher  for English as a second language (ESL) classes for students from 88 countries and an international bible class teacher for 40 years. She continues her ministry work at Waltonwood Cary Parkway where she leads three devotional groups. Yarborough still teaches international bible classes at her church. Her dedication to mission work earned her the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I know the women who were presented with the awards on International Women’s Day had the same feeling as me: pure joy,” said Yarborough. “A lot of us don’t expect recognition for our efforts because this is just ordinary life, but it’s nice to know our family and friends are the reason we are honored. I enjoyed attending this year’s luncheon and hearing the stories of the other women who received awards. It was a memorable day for all.”

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The country recently honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and residents of Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, are reflecting on how he influenced their lives. Gayle Fleming, a memory care resident at the community, was the first African-American woman to serve as the chief of outpatient pharmacy at Duke Outpatient Hospital. Fleming, 74, grew up in the Triangle area and left to attend college at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she earned her pharmacy degree. She lived for several years in Washington D.C. where she met and wed her husband, Dr. Stanley Fleming, before moving back to North Carolina. While at Duke, she returned to night school to earn MBA and MHA degrees. She always tried to increase her knowledge to better serve people. When she faced challenges throughout her 32-year career at Duke, she would always ask herself what King would do in a similar situation. She retired about eight years ago and moved into Waltonwood Cary Parkway four years ago.

“Gayle had a wonderful career, but it came with many challenges,” said her husband Dr. Stanley Fleming. “After high school she applied to a local college for her undergraduate degree, but she was told they didn’t allow people like her to attend their school. A politician wrote a letter to Gayle telling her to apply to a different institution like Howard University, so she did, and the state paid for it. Several years later when I was offered a job in North Carolina, she was reluctant to come back, but she did it for me. Being an African-American woman in power at Duke Hospital was difficult for her at times, but she really held fast to Dr. King’s approach of loving your enemy. His legacy influenced her career and will continue to influence others for many generations.”

Gayle was an advocate herself for many years. She was involved with The Links, Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization that consists of thousands of women committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African-Americans. During her time with the organization, she helped the underprivileged. It was her mission to promote equality and be a voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. Gayle involved herself in organizations that King believed in. She passed on her work ethic and dedication to her two children who have succeeded in their own fields as a lawyer and surgeon.

“I was there for Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington, D.C.,” said Fleming. “Gayle wasn’t able to attend, but the message resonated with her. She had her own dream to be a successful African-American woman in the pharmacy field, and she did that. She really followed his approach and passed it down to our own children. Through her work with different nonprofits and in the pharmacy field, she accomplished her dream. Celebrating Dr. King is an honor to us, and we look forward to it each year.”

“Gayle is a fantastic woman who accomplished many things during her career,” said Richard Mabe, executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. “Whatever she put her mind to she could achieve, and that is evident with her successful pharmacy career and her involvement with many organizations. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. influenced many of our residents and associates, and we are honored to recognize that each year. We enjoy hearing the different personal stories from each of the residents who call Waltonwood Cary Parkway home.”

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The country recently celebrated Veterans Day where men and women across the country honored those who served our country and those who continue to serve today. Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, hosted a Veterans Day luncheon at the community (750 SE Cary Parkway). The community recognized veterans from all branches of the military, and a veteran from each level of living at the community received a special award for their service. Cadets from Cary High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers (NJROTC) assisted associates at the senior living community by distributing pins to the veterans and passing out awards. The special event gave the community and cadets the opportunity to honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Nadine Whitmore is one of the veterans the community recognized. She became an Army nurse in 1948, but when the Army and Air Force became separate services, she then went into the Air Force and attended flight school, which is where she got her wings. Whitmore says she joined the military because of her two brothers. One was in the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the other was in the Navy. Whitmore says it is a privilege to have served in the military and is thankful to the senior living community for recognizing her service.

“I enjoyed the lunch at the senior living community in honor of Veterans Day,” said Whitmore. “There are dozens of veterans who call Waltonwood Cary Parkway home and being in the same room as them for the special day was truly an honor. Veterans Day is an opportunity to look back on our careers and what we accomplished while serving. We all have stories to tell, and I was thrilled to hear from the other veterans. It was great having the cadets there since they were able to learn from each of us and can take that knowledge with them if they choose a military career. It was a wonderful afternoon that I enjoyed.”

“It’s important to honor our nation’s heroes each day, but especially on Veterans Day,” said Richard Mabe, executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. “We had a fantastic lunch prepared for our veterans and invited guests, and we heard from guest speakers during the luncheon. We wanted to show our appreciation and let the veterans know their sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed. The pins were a beautiful tribute we hope the veterans enjoyed. We have veterans from different wars who live in the community, and we wouldn’t have our freedoms without them. The cadets added a lot to this wonderful event. It’s important for the younger generations to understand what our veterans have done, and what better way than listening to their stories and talking to them firsthand. It was a special day, and we were honored to host it.”

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Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, is inviting the public to try its hand at blackjack, Texas hold’em, roulette and more as they host a casino night fundraiser on Friday, October 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The free event is open to public at the senior living community (located at 750 SE Cary Parkway) and will feature casino games, light appetizers and refreshments. Guests will have the chance to bid on raffle baskets as well as make donations. The proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and Dementia Alliance.

“This disease affects a significant number of families, and we want to support the research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Richard Mabe, executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. “The casino night fundraiser is a fun way to bring dozens of people together to raise money and awareness for an important cause. This is the first time we’ve hosted a casino night fundraiser, but it won’t be our last. We are dedicated to giving back to organizations that fight for a cure. This disease touches so many lives, including residents who call Waltonwood Cary Parkway home. We hope the public will join our community and its residents for an exciting night of entertainment. We anticipate a successful event for both organizations.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than five million people living with the disease and 47 million people worldwide suffering from dementia. Waltonwood Cary Parkway understands the importance of raising money and awareness for the disease and wants those affected to know they are not alone in this fight. Residents and sponsors are excited for the fundraiser, including Irene Garver, 98. She enjoys gambling and knows this is the perfect event to get people together and raise money.

“The casino night fundraiser is for a purpose, not just for fun,” said Garver. “I am very fortunate because Alzheimer’s and dementia hasn’t affected my family, but I understand so many others are in a different situation. This is a wonderful event that Waltonwood is putting on, and I hope it brings out many people. The casino theme is touching to me because my mother was fond of gambling. She lived to age 105 and would frequent the casinos in Lake Tahoe and Reno. This will be a special event, and I am thrilled to participate in it.”

“I am honored to sponsor an event for such an important cause,” said Chris Edwards with RE/MAX United in Cary. “So many people are impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, including myself. After my mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia, I created Rotarians Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia (RADA). Our group uses music to help renew lives lost to Alzheimer’s and dementia. We give iPods to seniors who live in communities and let them listen to the music of their choice. I noticed there was a void when it came to music therapy, and I decided to fill it.  It’s been a powerful tool to help bring back lost memories. I work closely with Waltonwood Cary Parkway, and I’m grateful to support its fundraising event.”

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To honor the ladies who always have the extra butterscotch candy in their purse, or the men who teach you how to fold a paper airplane, Waltonwood Cary Parkway will celebrate National Grandparents Day on Saturday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a 1950’s-themed party. The event is free and open to the public and will feature grandparents’ favorite childhood games, as well as antique cars, a soda shop, hamburgers and shakes, and other meaningful activities. Residents and the public are encouraged to invite their grandchildren to the community (located at 750 SE Cary Parkway) to participate in this fun and free event. Many grandchildren use this day as an opportunity to express appreciation and love toward their grandparents through kind actions.

Shirley Edwards, 82, has lived at Waltonwood Cary Parkway for four years and is excited for her great-grandson Kaiden to participate in the Grandparents Day activities. He doesn’t live far from the senior living community, but Edwards appreciates his visits. For Grandparents Day, Edwards is looking forward to spending time with her only great-grandson while showing Kaiden the games she played in her younger years. She says things are very different today, but she hopes introducing Kaiden to new games and activities will inspire him to try new things.

“Kaiden is the light of my life, and I enjoy every second I spend with him,” said Edwards. “Just having him here on Grandparents Day is meaningful, but showing him the games I played as a kid is an added bonus. We didn’t have the electronics that kids have today. We had vivid imaginations and created entertainment for ourselves. My fondest memories are just being outdoors. We would play house, make mud pies, play hopscotch and lay in the grass looking at the clouds to see if they resembled any animals. Kaiden always tells me he doesn’t know how I grew up like that. I hope this celebration shows him there are other things in life besides electronics. I’m sure it will be quite humorous as well. There are times when we look at pictures and he says, ‘Is that really you?’ Or one time I showed him a fountain pen and he had never seen one before, which made me smile. This is a chance for us to learn from each other, and I can’t wait to celebrate.”  

“We are thrilled to celebrate Grandparents Day with the residents and the public,” said Richard Mabe, executive director. “This is a great opportunity for the seniors and their grandchildren to share experiences and understand how fortunate we are to have what we do today. The 1950’s theme is perfect, and we encourage everyone to dress in their poodle skirts or leather jackets when they attend. Multigenerational activities are important to seniors and offer many benefits, including improved physical and mental health. It will be a fun afternoon for seniors to reminisce and enjoy a nice hamburger and shake with their grandchildren on their special day.”

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To educate the next generation of senior living leaders, Waltonwood Cary Parkway (a premier senior living community in Cary) has implemented an internship program. As more baby boomers retire each day, it is important to identify and educate students to ensure enough younger people go into the field. This summer, two students are learning about community operations and the ins and outs of the senior living industry. Theresa Boozer-Turner, 38, a student studying health management at the University of Mount Olive, is passionate about working with seniors living with dementia. Eduardo Correa, 20, is studying psychology at Western Carolina University and works closely with the life enrichment department at Waltonwood Cary Parkway.

Boozer-Turner spends about three days at the community per week. Her grandmother’s dementia diagnosis inspired her to work in senior living. Boozer-Turner began taking night classes in order to learn more about the disease and its various stages. Her grandmother’s diagnosis had a huge impact on her family, and it encouraged Boozer-Turner to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She worked at a senior living community where she gained experience in the field, but she wanted to do more to make a difference. As a result, she decided to go back to school to learn about senior living community operations. Her goal is to become the executive director of an assisted living and memory care community. During her internship, she works closely with Executive Director Richard Mabe attending staff meetings, helping with activities and interacting with residents on a daily basis.

“When I help those living with dementia, it warms my heart,” said Boozer-Turner. “Seeing a strong, independent woman going through those changes was hard, so I want to support other families facing this transition by enlightening them and showing them that there is still so much love to give. I want to help people understand the disease and give them the resources to assist their loved one in living the best life possible after a diagnosis. There are so many people affected by this disease, and I hope with better education more people can understand it. The hands-on experience I receive at Waltonwood Cary Parkway is life changing. I hope to one day lead a community similar to this one and make an impact on the lives of seniors.”

Fellow intern Correa spends five days a week at the community in the life enrichment department. The psychology major looked for a volunteer project when he returned home for the summer and decided to work with seniors. Correa enjoys making a difference in the world around him, and he spends time with adults who have disabilities at school. Working with the life enrichment department, he interacts daily with the residents by passing out flyers and calendars and volunteers during activities such as painting or baking.

“This internship has given me a new perspective on senior living,” said Correa. “There are so many inaccurate stereotypes of senior living, but I understand it better now. The residents are independent, enjoy daily activities, have outings and freely do what they want. This is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I am thrilled to spend my summer at the community. The residents are supportive and appreciate me. The internship made me more responsible and gives me a glimpse of what my future could look like. I’m thankful for this opportunity and look forward to spending the rest of my summer helping seniors here.”

“Theresa and Eduardo are wonderful, eager-to-learn interns who have bright futures ahead of them,” said Richard Mabe, executive director. “We want them to learn as much as they can about community operations and the industry overall. We are dedicated to educating the next generation because a lot of them don’t understand what senior living entails, and our industry already has a shortage of qualified team members. We are excited to have two interns this summer and can’t wait to grow our program and give other students the opportunity to learn about this field.”

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Residents of Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community, bagged up homemade treats and dog toys and visited the SPCA of Wake County in honor of National Pet Month. Residents participated in a self-guided tour of the building and played with adoptable dogs and cats.

Pet therapy has numerous mental and emotional benefits for seniors, including socialization, mental stimulation, higher comfort levels and a boost in self-esteem. Not only did the residents benefit from the interactions, so did the shelter animals. The shelter environment can cause stress for dogs and cats, but shelter staff and volunteers help ease those feelings by providing enriching opportunities and activities like spending time with visitors. Socializing the animals also makes them more adoptable, which the community hopes this visit will do.

The senior living community is always looking for ways to get involved with the local community, and what better way than playing with their four-legged friends.