"They ate the whole blueberry pie between the three of them, which was just absolutely wonderful."
Babbie Fairley, the Memory Care Advisor at Arden Courts Assisted Living in Wilmington, wasn't going to let the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic stop her from giving her residents their "Heart's Desire."
Every year, a few residents battling dementia get a special evening designed around fond memories they have. Normally it's a trip somewhere outside the facility, but this year presented some obvious challenges. So Fairley brought the state of Maine to three lucky men.
"We didn't want to delay it," Fairley said. "We didn't want to say, 'Oh, we'll put this off off for next year and do something else different.' We wanted to think out of the box, and to say, 'Hey, if we can't take them to the experience, we'll bring the experience to them...We didn't want to put it off because COVID-19 may be here for [an unknown length of time.] I mean, we don't know what the future holds, so we didn't want to deprive them of this experience because of something else that was going on."
Fairley knew three of her residents had ties to Maine and love lobster, so she chose them for this year's Heart's Desire and brought a fancy Maine restaurant and meal to them, including all the fixings.
"The meal consisted of lobster, of course, baked potato, coleslaw, seafood salad, a tossed salad, cornbread, and blueberry pie, which is something that a lot of people in Maine love to eat...it just made a big difference in the lives of these three men that they were able to sit there and enjoy that meal. And although all three of these men had dementia...they were able to have conversations about their memories of Maine and they were having very coherent conversations. It was just a good experience and I think it made a difference in their life. They ate lobster till they couldn't eat anymore, and it was just a wonderful experience."
She said one of their residents was brought back to his glory days in the Armed Forces, when he spent time stationed in Maine and took the opportunity to catch lobster during down time.
"He was able to talk about different places that he had went and and places that he had visited in Maine when we were having that meal," she said. "He just felt like he was there, it was so real for him, and the other gentlemen were able to identify these places, too...To see them sitting there and interacting, to have that moment of clarity that they were having and talking about their experiences...It was just this feeling that I can hardly explain, it brought tears to my eyes."