Resident Spotlight: Mary Gullett

A True Icon of Love

Marry Gullett at Kirby Pines

Love is defined as an intense feeling for someone or something. The term icon is sometimes used to describe a person who represents a symbol of a particular thing. Put them together and they define Kirby Pines resident, Mary Gullett.

Since moving to Kirby Pines in 2000, Mary Gullett continues nearly a century of caring for others. Her unconditional love, positive attitude and desire to help others make Mary an endearing member of the Kirby Pines family.

Mary Gullett at Kirby Pines
Mary at age 4 in 1925

Mary Eliza Briggs was born in Ashland, Mississippi in 1920. Being the oldest of the three daughters in the family, Mary was considered a “little mother” to her two younger sisters. Always a good student, Mary graduated from high school as Valedictorian in 1939. Her commencement address was titled “Not The Sunset, But The Dawn”.

Following graduation, Mary’s first job was secretary in the Benton County, Mississippi Welfare Office, the WPA. Mary later graduated from the Memphis School of Commerce certified in business and office management. She worked briefly for Wallace Johnson, Inc. as a hostess for new homes.

In 1941, Mary married Cecil Gullett and became a war bride. Cecil was drafted into the Army but as long as Cecil was stateside, Mary was able to stay with him. However, as with most servicemen, Cecil was sent to Europe for two years. During that time Mary passed a civil service exam and worked as a secretary in the Farm Bureau of Albany, Mississippi. Following his discharge from the Army, Mary and Cecil led busy lives working and traveling whenever the opportunity came. They were able to visit Canada and all the states in the U.S. except Rhode Island, usually in their RV.

When Mary’s son, Larry, was born in 1950, Mary took a leave of absence from work, eventually returning to work as the church pastor’s secretary at Lamar Heights Baptist Church. She retired in 1990 after 45 years of service.

Today, Mary’s family includes not only her son and beloved daughter-in-law, Phyllis, but three grand and three great-grandchildren. Mary is frequently called upon to help with showers and plans for family gatherings.

Mary Gullett at Kirby Pines
Mary with her son, Larry and husband, Cecil

After Mary’s husband passed away unexpectedly in 1999, Mary made the decision to sell her home in Piperton and move to Kirby Pines. Moving to a retirement community did not include an inactive lifestyle for Mary. Soon after she moved in, she was invited to sit down to dinner with Ernest Green, a widower. They became best friends and together were involved in “all things Kirby” for many years. They were selected as King and Queen for one year.

As Ernest’s health deteriorated, Mary supported him in his care until his passing at age 99. Mary has continued to be involved in all of the entertainment venues at Kirby Pines. She participates as an Ambassador for Marketing activities and performs as one of the Kirby Pines Line Dancers. She also is Director of the Rhythm Band and plays a major role in the Entertainers and Hamateur productions. Mary is frequently called on to decorate the PAC stage and areas for many events. To view Mary’s “office,” open the door by the Memorial Table and see boxes of decorations, neatly packaged and labeled.

Although Mary describes herself as a helper and behind the scenes person, in reality, she would best be described as “Our Girl Friday”. The scripture from the Holy Bible that guides Mary is Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

So, if you need something done or need advice, call Mary Gul- lett. If you need assistance with your laundry or just a shoulder to cry on, call Mary Gullett. It is done with LOVE.

Learning More About Alzheimer’s

Learning more about Alzheimer's at Kirby PinesAlzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. These neurons, which produce the brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, break connections with other nerve cells and ultimately die. For example, short-term memory fails when Alzheimer’s disease first destroys nerve cells in the hippocampus, and language skills and judgment decline when neurons die in the cerebral cortex. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 and older. Although every case of Alzheimer’s disease is different, experts have identified common warning signs of the brain disease. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and it is important to look for signs that might indicate Alzheimer’s disease versus basic forgetfulness. With Alzheimer’s disease, these systems gradually increase and become more persistent. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, the person should check out his or her concerns with a healthcare professional. Awareness of these warning is not a substitute for a structured screening or consultation with a primary care provider.

Learning more about Alzheimer's at Kirby PinesTypical warning signs include: Memory loss, especially of recent events, names, placement of objects, new information, confusion about time and place, and struggling to complete familiar actions, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed. Also trouble finding the appropriate words, completing sentences, and following directions and conversations are signs. There are changes in mood and personality, such as increased suspicion, rapid and persistent mood swings, withdrawal, and disinterest in usual activities.

Learning more about Alzheimer's at Kirby PinesClinicians can now diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with up to 90 percent accuracy. But it can only be confirmed by an autopsy, during which pathologists look for the disease’s characteristic plaques and tangles in brain tissue. Clinicians can diagnose “probable” Alzheimer’s disease by taking a complete medical history and conducting lab tests, a physical exam, brain scans and neuropsychological tests that gauge memory, attention, language skills and problem-solving abilities. Proper diagnosis is critical since there are dozens of other causes of memory problems. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The sooner an accurate diagnosis of “probable” Alzheimer’s disease is made, the easier it is to manage symptoms and plan for the future.

Learning more about Alzheimer's at Kirby PinesAlzheimer’s disease typically progresses over two to 20 years, and individuals live on average for eight to 10 years from diagnosis. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are likely to develop co-existing illnesses and most commonly die from pneumonia. Alzheimer’s disease is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. The numbers of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to 88.5 million or 20 % of the population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If you are experiencing forgetfulness with daily routines, please reach out to use in therapy. We have a dedicated team of Speech Therapists who specialize in this and may be able to help. Please join us Wednesday, June 18th at 1:30 pm in the PAC for our Smart Moves presentation on this subject.

Resident Spotlight: Sam and Ellie Bates

A True Match Made in Heaven

Sam and Ellie Bates

Edna Mae (Ellie) Suggs was born September 9, 1934, in Vernon, Alabama. She immediately was moved to Columbus, Mississippi to her grandparents farm. They helped raise her until the age of six. Her father, Cecil Suggs was the Fire Chief in Columbus, who also ran a restaurant with Ellie’s mother, Vurla.

Ellie graduated high school in Columbus and attended The “W”, aka, the Mississippi University for Women, where she earned her teaching credentials. She taught school in Columbus for four years while earning her Masters Degree from Mississippi State. Upon receiving her degree, she was asked to take a teaching job in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her strong will and can do attitude along with her passion for kids (especially those at risk) landed her the job of Principal and Administrator for the Virginia Beach City School System. And though she loved to teach, she saw the opportunity to have more of an impact on the lives of more children an Administrator.

Samuel Andrew Bates, Jr. was born March 30, 1940, in Seattle, Washington. His father, Samuel Sr., sold industrial plumbing supplies along the Pacific coast for 40 years, and his mother, Anita, maintained the household. Sam graduated from Ballard High School in Seattle and went on to the University of Washington, where he joined a fraternity and focused more on the good times, instead of his studies. After his 3rd year of school, the Cuban Missile Crisis had occurred and the Vietnam War was heating up, so in order to avoid getting drafted by the Army, he enlisted in the Navy.

He began his basics in San Diego and was sent to the Treasure Island School in San Fransisco to study electronics. After about a year he found himself in Cape Canaveral on the Observation Island, a Fleet Ballistic Missile Test Ship, where he was a Navigation Equipment Tech. Due to his substantial amount of electronics training, he was then sent to Pearl Harbor for 2 years to do Submarine Navigation Training and Electronics Training. The next 3 years were spent on survey ships conducting deep water bottom surveys for submarines – half in the Pacific and half in the Atlantic.

Ellie & Sam on their Wedding Day May 1973

He was finally sent for training to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he met Ellie. They began dating in the spring of 1972 after a faculty party held by a friend of Ellie’s. They had actually met a few days prior at a friend of Sam’s house, who happened to be married to a colleague of Ellie. They were invited to make ice cream and as the evening came to an end, Ellie, who lived down the street, decided to walk home. As she set out, Sam got in his blue VW Bug and headed her way. He waved and tooted his horn as he passed on by. Ellie was no longer impressed. As fate would have it, the two were brought back together and on May 5, 1973, they were married.

Sam then spent 3.5 years on the USS Inchon, an amphibious assault ship where he went up the ranks to become a Command Master Chief Petty Officer. Ellie ended up being the ship’s ombudsman, helping the sailors families, while still running the schools and raising their son, Kenneth. Sam retired from the Navy on May 30, 1982. He got his business degree from George Washington University and and Engineering/ Tech degree from Old Dominion. He continued working with Navy contractors and worked 10 years for a shipyard in Norfolk, but when the Cold War ended, so did the Navy contracts and he was laid off in 1993.

Sam retires from the Navy May 30, 1982

Sam soon found a job at Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, New Jersey, while Ellie stayed back to finish her obligations and sell the house in Virginia. She retired in 1996, and she and Ken moved north. Sam officially retired in 2006.

Over the years they had two separate acquaintances, one in Virginia and the other in New Jersey that mentioned Kirby Pines to them. Each had family living at Kirby that said it was a wonderful place to live. They received information in the mail and had spoken with Marketing, who is always quite persuasive.

In September of 2012, they decided to stop at Kirby Pines on the way to visit family in Texas and were put up in one of the guest rooms. Two days later, Ellie was getting her hair done, while Sam signed the paperwork. They have been happy here ever since.

Ellie’s uncle made all the arrangements and helped them move in with a crew he hired. With Ellie in her house coat watching her new home come together, 3 women came knocking, invited her to dinner and asked if they needed anything – she knew they were home.

Ellie is a firm believer that the Lord has guided them both through life and that opportunities have always come as a blessing. We are blessed that He brought this lovely couple to Kirby Pines.

Different Types of Hearing Loss

Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing. But some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing. Older people who can’t hear well may become depressed or may withdraw from others to avoid feeling frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they don’t hear well. Hearing loss comes in many forms. It can range from a mild loss, in which a person misses certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, to a total loss of hearing.

There are two general categories of hearing loss:

  1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent.
  2. Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear. The cause may be earwax buildup, fluid, or a punctured eardrum. Medical treatment or surgery can usually restore conductive hearing loss.

One type of hearing loss, called presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, comes on gradually as a person ages. It seems to run in families and may occur because of changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve. Having presbycusis may make it hard for a person to tolerate loud sounds or to hear what others are saying. Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is gradual, someone with presbycusis may not realize that he or she has lost some of his or her ability to hear.

Tinnitus, also common in older people, is typically described as ringing in the ears, but it also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It can come and go. It might be heard in one or both ears, and it may be loud or soft. Tinnitus can accompany any type of hearing loss and can be a sign of other health problems, such as high blood pressure or allergies, or a side effect of medications. Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease. Something as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal can cause tinnitus, but it can also be the result of a number of health conditions.

If you notice signs of hearing loss, talk to your doctor. If you have trouble hearing, you should:

  • Let people know you have a hearing problem.
  • Ask people to face you and to speak more slowly and clearly. Also, ask them to speak louder without shouting.
  • Pay attention to what is being said and to facial expressions or gestures.
  • Let the person talking know if you do not understand what he or she said.
  • Ask the person speaking to reword a sentence and try again.

It’s Mother’s Day at Kirby Pines

It’s that time of the year again, when we take time to salute all mothers with a good old fashion picnic and cookout that includes games, a fishing rodeo, animals to ride and pet, face painting and lots of food. The second Saturday of this month, May 12th, our park-like grounds will be filled with the laughter and love that is generated whenever individuals come together to enjoy family and friends. So whether you’re meeting with other residents under the big tent or have an area under the trees for twenty family members, be sure to let the front desk know you will be attending our annual Mother’s Day Cookout.

It was ninety-eight years ago, in 1914, that Congress passed legislation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The idea to create a day to honor our mothers is believed to have been first held in 1907 at the request of Anna Jarvis, who asked her church to hold a service in memory of her mother. Anna Jarvis’ simple request to her church to honor her mother remains one of our country’s most celebrated day. Mrs. Jarvis did more than just honor her mother, she reminded us all that we need to make time to honor the women who raise us to be good children, good adults and good citizens.

Some say the predecessor to what we celebrate today as Mother’s Day, was the ancient spring festival dedicated to the Greek goddess Rhea and Roman goddess Cybele, who were known as the “Mothers of the Gods”. However, no matter when you believe this day was first observed, Mother’s Day is a tradition everyone can celebrate at Kirby Pines.

So, make plans to attend our annual Mother’s Day Cookout. This festive occasion is like no other in the Memphis area, and is just one more reason Kirby Pines continues to be voted the Memphis Most!

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Month of May Recognizes Arthritis Awareness

It’s odd to say Arthritis Awareness, because if you have one of the over 100 medical conditions that fall under the diagnosis of Arthritis, you are probably aware of arthritis every day and every night. While no cure for arthritis has been developed yet, much research has allowed medical science to improve its understanding of the causes of arthritis and to develop better treatments including new medications for pain and inflammation relief. Exercise that emphasizes stretching, strengthening, and cardiovascular has an important role in the improvement and continuing function of daily activities. The Arthritis Foundation sponsors research, educational programs, exercise programs, public awareness and advocacy efforts in Congress. Through their bimonthly magazine Arthritis Today, they keep people informed on new products, diet, exercise and medications.

Arthritis affects over 50 million people in the US and two-thirds are under the age of 65. Over 300,000 families deal with arthritis in children under the age of 16. The Arthritis Foundation has been fighting juvenile arthritis and supporting families for more than 60 years. Every year they invest more than $4.5 million in outreach and research that advances treatments and will lead to a cure. Four of our exercise classes are sponsored through the Arthritis Foundation: Tai Chi Mondays @ 2 in the PAC, Basic Water Aerobics on Tuesday/Thursdays at 9:30, Sit and Stand Class Tuesday/Thursdays in the PAC at 11 and our Walk with Ease Class offered twice a year. Interest in the Arthritis Foundation exercise programs brought Mary Hand to teach classes at Kirby Pines six years ago. Kirby Pines has since become a flagship organization for the Arthritis Foundation.

In support of the Arthritis Foundation, we are planning a Bake sale on May 23 from 9 to 2 and our own Walk to Cure here at Kirby Pines on May 30 at 10:30. We need your help with baked goods for the sale, volunteers to run the sale, and customers to purchase our delicious offerings. Then on the day of our walk we will need volunteers to help at our registration table and walkers to participate. We will have a course marked for around the lake and another course for inside walkers. Everyone who participates will be eligible for Door prizes, surprises, and refreshments. Please join with our family at Kirby Pines to support the Arthritis Foundation with financial gifts and physical support. This year we have a special invitation to join the Regional Walk to Cure Arthritis at the Redbird Stadium on Saturday morning, June 2nd. Last year Kirby Pines raised over $1000 for the Arthritis Foundation. What a difference we can make when we team up to Walk to Cure Arthritis!

Then and Now

Then and Now at Kirby PinesThe events that capture our thoughts at this season often prompt us to remember history past. We focus on the Person and the places that dramatically changed the world. We wonder what it was that caused people 20 Centuries ago to be so committed in the early days of Christianity. The depth of commitment of the early Chris- tian leaders is remarkable beyond our understanding. Consider the following:

St. Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopa.
St. Mark expired at Alexandria, after having been cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
St. Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
St. John was put into a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
St. Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward. St. James the Greater was beheaded in Jerusalem.
St. James the Less was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
St. Phillip was hanged up against a pillar at Heiropolis in Phrygia. St. Bartholomew was flayed alive.
St. Andrew was bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died.
St. Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
St. Jude was shot to death with arrows.
St. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
St. Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
St. Paul after various tortures and persecutions was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

These early disciples and leaders of Christianity had met Someone, heard what He said, witnessed His betrayal, arrest, trial, rejection, crucifixion and resurrection. Their lives were so changed. Their faith was so fixed. Their love was so deep.

Would anyone living in those troubled times and circumstances have been willing to die for what they knew to be a lie? Could they have endured such terrible and painful pressure, and even give their lives in death for what they knew was false? A thousand times “NO!” Christ was alive…without doubt.

Those who loved and followed Christ did so with steadfast dedication. They did not love merely in word, but indeed as well. They literally sealed with their life what they professed with their lips.

Looking at Christ’s sacrificial love and monumental resurrection was motivation to cause them to say with Isaac Watts “Loved so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” (When I Survey)

It’s not just how we come to the Cross and the Empty Tomb, it’s how we leave them.

Would we today follow Christ in such a sacrificial manner? Would history record our dedication like those martyrs in the beginning? If we are not living for Him today we will certainly not die for Him tomorrow.

Let’s be ready now and in all the days ahead to let others see the depth of our commitment and the price we are willing to pay in knowing and following Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

Till next time, Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain

Resident Spotlight: Flo Seward

A Life of Service

Flo Seward at Kirby Pines

Were you fortunate to have a first or second grade teacher who was loving, gentle and comforting? To spend only a few minutes with Flo Seward would convince you that she was such a teacher. Flo taught second grade at Knight Road Elementary for thirty years.

Flo Seward was born in Collierville in 1927 to a family of five daughters. Flo was the middle child and when the fourth daughter was born, she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Buntyn Station. Although this was a temporary arrangement, Flo believes that the influence of her aunt, her experiences and exposures during this time shaped her values for service.

After graduating from high school in Collierville at age 16, Flo chose to attend Montreat Junior College in North Carolina. The missionary teachers there influenced her greatly in her future service to God and others.

Flow at Kirby Pines
Flo as a bride in a Tom Thumb Wedding

After graduation, Flo moved back to Mem- phis, married her high school sweetheart and started her family, eventually having three girls and two boys. Originally work- ing as a secretary in the Sterick Building, Flo realized after her children came, the important role of a teacher. She returned to school at Memphis State University, eventually earning two Masters Degrees in Education.

After 32 years of marriage, Flo and her husband divorced. Her five children had all left home. Feeling the “empty nest syndrome”, Flo contacted the Department of Human Services and became a foster mother of nine little girls over a four year period. A testa- ment to her influence in their lives was apparent when some re- mained in contact. In fact, the first foster child invited Flo to her wedding and insisted that she be in the wedding picture as “my first mother”.

Flo joined the Collierville Methodist Church at age ten and as an adult devoted many hours to teaching Bible classes and singing in the choir. After moving her family to Memphis, she became active in Christ United Methodist Church. Her church involvement there resulted in Flo starting the night circle for working women, a choir for seniors and becoming the tour director for senior excursions. She continues today to work with Diamond Tours in arranging fantastic and inexpensive tours for senior groups.

Perhaps one of the most fulfilling activities for Flo was to become a member of Friendship Force, an organization started by former President Jimmy Carter. The goal of this organization is to build a bridge of peace with foreign countries. Involvement mens living in their homes for several days. This has resulted in Flo traveling to many countries and learning that there are universal feelings and wants for every parent, no matter the country. She has made many lifetime friends and admits that it helped to erase prejudices she formerly held.

Flo with her children, grandchildren and foster child at her mother’s home on Mother’s Day 1963.

A life of service continues for Flo. On Monday, she volunteers at Methodist Germantown Hospital, on Thursday she sings with the First Generation Choir at CUMC. On Friday she tutors two children in reading through a program called Teen Read, sponsored by Germantown Methodist Church.

Before moving to Kirby Pines, Flo was active in the McWherter Senior Citizen Center. During that time, Flo won the Mid-South Talent Contest for singing and was the winner of the city and state Olympic contests. Her trophies are on display at McWherter Senior Center.

We could not leave Flo’s life story without mentioning that she now has seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. These children are her greatest delight.

With all of her talent and experiences, Flow Seward is a valuable and contributing member of the Kirby Pines family. For inspiration, get to know her. At 90 years of age, Flo is still “Flo-ing”.

Consider This

Do you routinely follow an exercise program? — Great! If not, you may want to start. Some of the benefits of regularly exercising include:

Delaying or preventing the onset of disabilities or diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Reducing pain from arthritis.

Helping with anxiety and depression through better sleep and feelings of well-being.

Reducing the risk of falls, the most common cause of nonfatal injuries in adults over age 65.

Getting Started:

Choose an activity that you’ll enjoy and can do regularly and gives the most benefit.

Take into consideration your interests, health, and physical limitations, as well as the ease of accessing the activity. Kirby Pines offers a wide range of classes and a variety of equipment in the Oasis. Schedule time for your new activities: 30 minutes for 5 days quickly add up to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. Incorporate four different types of activities into an exercise regimen, as they provide different health benefits:

Endurance Activities increase the heart rate and breathing. Including walking, jogging or dancing, they help improve the cardiovascular system. Try the NuStep or Bike in the Oasis.

Strength Exercise such as weight training can help build up muscles and reduce age-related muscle loss. The Oasis is fully equipped to build muscle strength.

Stretching Exercises help keep the body flexible and able to move easily. Tai chi and Yoga stretch can make a difference.

Balance Exercises help improve balance, reducing the risk of falls. Water aerobics and the Sit and Stand classes practice balance moves each class.

As each person has different health issues and medications, checking in with a health care provider before beginning is key to preventing injuries.

If you have any questions about the classes we offer or using the equipment, check with Mary Hand in the Oasis.

Changes To Look For at Kirby Pines

Happy Easter everyone! After a slow start to springtime weather, we can at least rejoice that the month began with Easter. Also beginning this month, Medicare will start mailing new cards that do not disclose Social Security numbers.

In an effort to protect against identity theft, Medicare has been preparing to replace everyone’s Medicare card with a new one that includes a unique eleven-digit Medicare identifier – rather than your Social Security number. The agency will begin sending new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019, with the time frame based on each state. The first wave of cards will be mailed from April to June of this year to people living in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Tennessee will not begin to get new Medicare cards until after June 2018.

New cards will come automatically, so there is nothing you need to do, other than to make certain that the Social Security Administration has your current mailing address. Beware of scam artists regarding the new card – there is no cost for the new card and Medicare will not be calling you for your Social Security number or address, or bank account information. Again, new Medicare cards will automatically be mailed to Tennesseans after June 2018.

The new card will not change your benefits and you can use it as soon as you receive it. Once you have received your new Medicare card, please notify the Administration office, as we will need your new eleven digit Medicare identifier to bill Medicare.