Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - 128

THE SPARK

Family ties

Michelle Clark, senior associate
and senior living expert at Rees
(Dallas), shares how her mother's
Alzheimer's diagnosis uniquely
shaped her career and design
approach

M

Senior Living at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas,
my perspective began to change as I started
to feel the impact that design has on families.
The Silverado community has several amenity
spaces, including a bistro and a commu128

EFAmagazine.com * Spring 2018

nity playground, where families can go
with their loved ones. My children looked
forward to visiting their grandmother and
spending time in these places, and my
mother could interact with them, which
gave us all positive memories of her. The
neighborhood design also allowed us to
connect with other families, creating an extended family that understood one another.
In December 2017, my mother lost her
battle with Alzheimer's. However, her legacy
extends beyond my family and friends and
affects every client and senior living community I work with. I believe in lifelong learning-my mom would share with everyone
who would listen that she had Alzheimer's
and to learn from her.
Ultimately, I've learned to live in the
moment, have patience, and be pres-

ent. I share my firsthand experience with
Alzheimer's with owners and operators and
recommend design solutions like playgrounds to assist family members in making
that connection that's often missed and intimate lounge areas where families can spend
quality time together. This is the greatest
gift I can share to help other families as they
traverse their own journey. EFA

Environments for Aging is introducing The
Spark, a new column that shares industry
members' personal accounts of the moments,
people, or projects that inspired them to dedicate their careers to improving environments
for seniors. If you're interested in sharing your
story, contact Executive Editor Anne DiNardo
at anne.dinardo@emeraldexpo.com.

NATHALIE DION

y earliest
childhood
memories
are listening to my
father, Frank W. Rees
Jr., give design presentations on senior
living communities.
At the time, I didn't
understand the impact that shadowing my
dad, who founded his architecture and design
firm in 1975, would make on my personal life
and professional career.
During college, however, I started out wanting to do anything but architecture, majoring
in finance and international business before
eventually going into interior design. It was
during an internship with HKS Inc. that I worked
on my first healthcare projects and felt my work
was making an impact on people's lives. This
experience put me on a similar career path as
my father, and in 2009, I joined his firm, focusing on its senior living practice.
As I reached my early 20s, my family recognized that my mother, Joanie, was beginning
to get frustrated with simple tasks and having
memory issues beyond her "silly" personality. A
visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital confirmed that
her cognitive disability was most likely Alzheimer's. It was a very tough moment in my life.
Later, when I had a family of my own, I
mourned the loss of the traditional motherdaughter experience. I couldn't ask my mother
to watch my daughter when she was born, and
my husband and stepson knew her only with
memory challenges.
When my mother moved into Silverado


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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Environments for Aging - Spring 2018

Environments for Aging - Spring 2018
Contents
EFAmagazine.com
Editorial
Show Talk
Bulletin
Photo Tour
Community
Higher calling
Welcome
2018 jury/award winners and finalists
Style and substance
Life well lived
Leading the way
Making the cut
Pushing boundaries
Project directory
EFA Design Showcase
The Spark
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Environments for Aging - Spring 2018
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Cover2
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Contents
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Editorial
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Show Talk
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Bulletin
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Higher calling
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Welcome
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - 2018 jury/award winners and finalists
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Style and substance
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Life well lived
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Leading the way
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Making the cut
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - 53
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Pushing boundaries
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - 55
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Project directory
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - EFA Design Showcase
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - The Spark
Environments for Aging - Spring 2018 - Cover3
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