By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald Newspapers
DEARBORN – At Beaumont Commons, Dearborn, residents of this continuing care community make new friends and share stories that call to mind the theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood TV show.
When Sylvia Novachoff moved to this close-knit community four years ago, she was surprised to meet a neighbor who had lived for years on the same street in Dearborn.
“We even went to the same schools and never met until we lived here,” she said.
It was after Novachoff experienced a fall in her Dearborn home that she, along with her daughter, Noni Acey, and son, Paul Novachoff, decided it was time for her to move into the community’s Assisted Living apartment.
“I’ll never forget that within minutes of Mom’s move here,” Acey said, “a woman named Jane introduced herself, asked if she were a new resident and welcomed her. Then, we knew she had picked the right place.”
A smiling Novachoff describes how today she knows all her neighbors and likes being called “Miss Sylvia.”
“Years ago when my son was in the Dearborn High School band, I used to be ‘Paul’s mom,’” said Novachoff, who enjoys her new identity and is quick to talk about her personal aides, Annabelle and Almanda. “They’re like my family, and my daughter jokes, ‘If you were living with me, I wouldn’t take care of you this well.’”
Among Novachoff’s favorite things to do is visit the campus library. An avid reader, she also enjoys attending concerts in the Rotunda room and eating in the Bistro café.
“My kids tell me all I have to do is eat, sleep and have a good time,” Novachoff said. “And, I do.”
Resident Calvin Mack is another longtime Dearborn resident who moved to an assisted living apartment a year and a half ago. Like Novachoff, he had experienced a fall at home. Mack’s daughters helped research different communities before selecting Beaumont Commons.
Mack’s youngest daughter, Lori Wood, said Mack likes to joke around and enjoys the company of people of all ages.
“Our dad had been reluctant to leave his home, but he’s very social and now our family knows all his friends here,” said Wood, who listed several names of his friends and neighbors.
Mack enjoys another benefit as well. His younger sister, Lois Kovacs, lives in an independent living apartment on campus.
“I see my sister now more than I used to, when she and her husband were snowbirds to Florida,” Mack said.
At the young age of 95, Mack is a member of the “greatest generation,” an Air Force veteran who was a flight engineer on B-24 bombers during World War II.
Since moving to Beaumont Commons, Wood said her dad has been interviewed frequently about his experience in the war and in September, a local group of the Sons of the American Legion named him Veteran of the Month.
Many are surprised to hear Mack share that he went through basic training with Clark Gable in Florida, though his favorite celebrity is Frank Sinatra.
“I met him three times in concert,” said Mack, who keeps a signed photograph of Sinatra on his apartment wall. “I’ve always liked music and it’s always filled our house.”
In addition to watching sports, Mack enjoys attending concerts and entertainment available on campus. He shared that he’s also working with a therapist to get stronger. His daughter described how her dad, who had been an avid skater, learned to downhill ski at the age of 75.
“I went down the hill six times,” said Mack, who is proud of the fact that he quit smoking 50 years ago, eats moderately and keeps moving. When asked what he plans to do at 100, he quickly responds, “Stand up.”
“Sylvia and Calvin are only two of our residents who have such wonderful stories to share,” said nurse Karen Miller, director of resident care. “All of our residents are like family and our staff become their extended family. As in every family, we can go through ups and downs, but we find solutions and work them out.”
Every year, residents and family members of Beaumont Commons receive a satisfaction survey to rate the quality of services and care residents receive and to provide comments.
“We are always pleased to receive high marks on satisfaction, though it’s even more valuable to receive their personal feedback and recommendations that help us to make improvements,” Administrator Linda Nickerson said.
Recently, Nickerson and Miller received letters from Mary Pio, one of nine children of longtime resident Bea Cousino who died in October. Cousino had moved more than a year ago from an assisted living apartment to the community’s Memory Care area as a result of increased dementia.
In a note of thanks to Miller, Pio wrote, “At times she (Bea) could be a handful or get herself in a pickle, but you always seemed to set your sights beyond these times . . . remembering her dignity and advocating for her.”
In a separate note addressed “To All of the Employees of Beaumont Commons,” Pio thanked everyone, without naming all the individuals who had cleaned her mom’s apartment, prepared her meals, freshened her bed, cleaned her clothes, responded to medical needs, answered Bea’s many questions, and enabled the family to organize and reserve family times with her on campus.
In closing Pio wrote, “So — do you see why I can’t name names? ‘It takes a Village.’ You may think your job is ordinary. Yet — the whole package, meaning the whole team is needed to make us feel as I feel today — even with mom’s passing. There just aren’t words to express my feelings of gratitude for each of you.”
“We can’t receive greater satisfaction or recognition than expressions of appreciation about the fullness of life our residents and family members receive,” Nickerson said, “being part of a caring community, where they find new friends and neighbors.”