WATERTOWN — Emily Slattery, LMSW, has opened Old Glory Days, 211 Woodbury Rd., to support seniors facing issues such as dementia by offering both a day center and a unique assisted living model. She told Voices, “I really feel people should live in a beautiful, comfortable home unlike a hospital or hotel.” By renovating what was, until recently, a private home, Ms. Slattery plans to welcome a half dozen full time residents and to offer space for seniors who want to spend their days with others in order to socialize and find mental and physical stimulation.
The house was built approximately a century ago, with architectural details that are being preserved and enhanced.
A wrought iron, curved staircase winds by a two-story window. Ms. Slattery brought in a welder to increase the height of the railing to make it safer without changing the esthetic.
There is also a new wheelchair lift that makes second-floor access easy for those who choose to live on that floor.
The third floor is laid out as a suite that could be occupied by a couple or siblings unless someone wants the space to themselves.
Ms. Slattery has enlisted the design help of her mother and they considered each decision in light of how chairs and other pieces of furniture would be used daily.
“We’ve sat in every chair and couch to make sure the height is right and it’s easy to get up again. And our chairs have arms so anyone can simply push up from a seated position. That helps everyone be as independent as they can be.”
The dining room and kitchen will provide homestyle cooking in a setting that underscores a theme of familiarity.
Ms. Slattery explained, “We’re here to support not just seniors but their families and caregivers who either work during the day or just need time to themselves. At Old Glory Days, transitioning from a single-family home to a home with a limited number of residents is less overwhelming than moving to a large institution.”
There is also a high prioritization placed on the level of supervision — a ratio of one to three for assisted living and one to five in the day center —to minimize confusion and maximize a positive experience.
Ms. Slattery added, “Residents will have the option of decorating their rooms with their own furniture.
“There’s always an adjustment period and it can be difficult to understand why there needs to be a change in living arrangements. But we can help people with that adjustment until they feel comfortable in a new routine.”
Old Glory Days opened under the name of Glory Days.
“I know everyone has good days to come and shouldn’t be thinking that all of them are passed,” Ms. Slattery said. “I soon changed the name a bit to acknowledge the flagpole in Newtown, where I opened the original day center. Here, in Watertown, we’ve gone with a red, white and blue style at the front of the house.”
The feedback from clients and families in the Sandy Hook location has been positive. “They appreciate the attention and say they have fun with us.”
The idea to expand services to include assisted living was a logical progression for Ms. Slattery. “I’ve been doing this work since 2013 and know that clients who visit us during the day experience advanced symptoms and need help at night, too.”
Her own background is as a social worker. “I have experience working in traditional nursing homes and know how to talk with people who are going through dementia, though we do help people with a wide range of issues.
“I like to get to know our clients and their families because then we know what they like to talk about or do. We can rely on our nurses for medical expertise, but we want everyone involved to know each person well.”
“I’ve always been drawn to the elderly, even when I was working in critical care,” Barbara Imp, R.N., said, explaining she was very interested in working at Old Glory Days. “Maybe it comes from when I was a little girl and loved visiting my great-aunts.
“There was a strong connection, in both directions and I love the idea of helping seniors now. I would want someone to be there for me some day in the same way.”
Ms. Slattery said, “When someone isn’t experienced with helping a loved one who has dementia or another diagnosis, they might need help with administering medication or making sure their loved one eats well. We offer a full day of activities that combine physical and brain games. We also just sit and chat, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.”
There were limited day trips during the pandemic, and these have expanded to safe activities such as going for ice cream or out to pick pumpkins.
Ms. Slattery is excited that the renovation work in Watertown is coming to an end and is pleased with the outcome. “We used teak benches in the white showers because that contrast is easy to see.
“And, we were able to keep floor colors consistent. A change in color, say drastically darker, can make a someone with a disability or simply dealing with the effects of aging think that the depth of the floor is changing.”
New plants in the garden are attracting butterflies and birds.
“We’ve raised a flag on the flagpole,” she said. “It’s a very pleasant place to be, even when I’m here seven days a week, working 10-hour days.”
Applications are being accepted from residents and those interested in the adult day center in both locations, with a wait list at Old Glory Days, 107 Church Hill Rd., Sandy Hook.
Tours and free trial days are available.