EDMOND — A four-bedroom brick house nestled among tall trees and colorful blooming flowers in pots and in the ground looks like all the other nearby homes in the comfortable neighborhood.
Inside, there is lots of sunshine beaming down on the antique and vintage furniture. The scent of lavender fills the air.
A pillow resting on the seat of a slate-blue rocking chair on the front porch is inscribed with a single word: “Home.”
Three elderly people, who need help with daily activities, call this place home.
Eden Care Homes are an alternative to the traditional institutional assisted-living facilities.
“Eden Care Homes are just that — homes,” said owner Shannon McClure, who is a registered nurse. “They are located in quiet residential neighborhoods and on private acreages and appear no different from any other house on the block.”
Eden Care Cottage is a mile north of Edmond on Santa Fe Avenue. A second home, Eden House at the Greens, is in Oklahoma City. Each house can be a home for up to five residents and is licensed by the state.
“We offer a traditional family atmosphere that encourages interaction and opportunities to develop close, trusting relationships,” McClure said.
Caregiver Barbara Benson was softly rubbing lavender and almond oil on the small, feeble hand of 97-year-old Lorene Baird, who has lived at Eden Care Cottage since February.
Although Baird, who has Alzheimer's, never spoke, everyone in the room could tell she was content and enjoyed Benson's tender touch.
“For five lucky people, this is a little bit of heaven,” Benson said as she kept an eye on Baird, who was sitting in a chair, facing a picture window with a hummingbird feeder attached to the glass. “Just look. You walk in the door and you feel better. It's a home, not just a residence.”
Sandy Gore, Baird's daughter, also was smiling as she watched Benson help calm her mother and lessen her anxieties.
Gore tried to take care of her aging mother at her home. It was a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job that turned out to be too much to handle for Gore, even with home health care assistance.
Baird moved into a single room decorated with pictures and knickknacks familiar to her.
“I can sleep at night,” Gore said. “I don't worry about her care. It is peaceful here and peaceful at my house.”
A large blood clot was discovered in Baird's leg after she arrived at the cottage.
“I believe if she hadn't come here, she wouldn't be alive,” Gore said.
Baird made two laps around the 240-foot trail one of her first times in the backyard where deer and a red fox have been seen.
“I am not sad to leave her,” Gore said. “I am very grateful. It's a happy place.”
Together to the end
Nan Collins and Bob, her husband of 20 years, were the first two residents at the cottage after it opened in November 2012.
They had been separated after Bob Collins, with Alzheimer's, went to a memory care unit to live.
When June Collins, Bob's daughter, learned about Eden Care Homes, she didn't hesitate because she knew that was what her father would want.
“I was so excited,” June Collins said. “I think it is incredible.”
Her father and his wife were able to live together in a companion room until he died in July. Nan Collins plans to continue living at the cottage.
Collins saw a huge change in her father once he was moved from a memory care unit to the cottage.
“He received good care,” June Collins said of the memory care unit. “Still, it wasn't home. He still missed his wife.”
For her, June Collins said, “It was hard to know to visit at the memory care unit. I feel more welcome at the cottage. The atmosphere is more like home. They hit the mark.”
Bob Collins felt like he was at home and safe, his daughter said. He would routinely try to leave the memory care unit, but never once did he try to walk out the front door at the cottage, she said.
“Dad perked up,” June Collins said. “He smiled. He talked more. He really interacted with the staff.”
June Collins called the last months of her 84-year-old father's life happy times. They were able to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and his birthday at the cottage.
“It was wonderful to have that time,” June Collins said. “It was great to go through that experience in the same place. It was like he died in his own home.”
Nan Collins, who had a stroke, tends to her peach roses growing out her window at the cottage and loves fresh flowers in her bathroom.
“I can go to bed when I want to and get up when I want to,” said Nan Collins, 71. “I can eat when I want to.”
Nan Collins is known around the cottage for her love of sweets and ice cream. She is often found in the kitchen cooking brownies and banana nut bread.
Available to residents
Caregivers work 12-hour shifts providing a wide range of assistance including personal care; activities, medication administrations, meals, light housekeeping duties and laundry care. They are not allowed to sleep during their shift, McClure said.
“I grow to love these people,” Benson said. “These people are like family. I have two families.”
A nurse and a physician are available around the clock.
Aromatherapy and Hemi-Sync Audio Therapy are used at Eden's homes.
“We utilize essential oils in the home to help create a natural, therapeutic home environment for our residents,” McClure said.
Hemi-sync audio guidance CDs help safely alter brainwaves with multilayered patterns of sound frequencies to help with memory clarity.
Art therapy provided for the residents has produced artwork seen throughout the 25,000-square-foot home.
Baird was an artist in her younger days and now again at the cottage. She turns out paintings that are similar to pieces she painted earlier in her life.
Nan Collins and her husband enjoyed the art therapy too. She painted a ballerina and gave it to her granddaughter, who displayed it on her wall.
The cost of care
There is a price to stay in these private-care homes.
A single room costs $6,400 a month and a companion suite is $5,600 a month for each resident. Residents can use long-term care insurance at Eden Care Homes.
The price also covers all of their hygiene items, including homemade lavender soap, bath salts and lotions. Everything they need is included except for their medicine, McClure said.
“I hate about the cost,” McClure said. “But two-thirds of our budget is for staff. They are paying for the care.”