Piecing Life Together
Karl Davis loves a good routine. When he arrives at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, he carefully unpacks the items he laid out the night before—his cell phone, tablet and charger, gum, pocket tool kit and favorite Green Bay Packer wallet. “That way, I’m not forgetting anything,” he explains. “It’s how I compensate.”
His easy laugh and ready smile hide the challenges Karl, 58, has faced since a car accident left him disabled and in chronic pain 25 years ago. Things became even more complicated three years ago, when he began forgetting simple things, like why he walked into a room, a conversation he had an hour ago or his address. A hospital evaluation determined he had a form of dementia resulting in short-term memory loss. “They told us he’d need 24-hour care,” says Karl’s wife, Sharon, who works full time. “We were totally unprepared.”
After visiting several adult day facilities, the Davises found St. Ann Center. “When we walked in the door, people immediately came up to greet us,” Karl says, remembering his surprise at the friendly, energetic environment. “Within a week, I felt comfortable…and I knew things were going to be okay.” Sharon had the same reaction. “Now I can go to work and relax, knowing Karl is someplace he enjoys and where he feels fulfilled. He’s getting a good meal, a chance to socialize, and structure”—all things that combat his memory loss.
A client in the Akachi (“hand of God”) unit, Karl is a natural-born activity director—organizing card games, finding partners for pool and striking up conversations with the teenagers who regularly volunteer at the center. Sharon has seen a big change in her husband, too. “He’s become so engaged, he’s taking steps toward going back to work,” she says. Karl now divides his weekdays between St. Ann Center and the Milwaukee Center for Independence, where he’s involved in a job readiness program.
Expanding his routine hasn’t always been easy, Karl admits, but it’s led to some exciting new opportunities. “My long-term goal is to get the training I need to work at St. Ann Center,” he says. “I’ve never found a place that’s been as welcoming and caring. I’d like to be a part of that.”Read April-June 2017 Seasons of Life