Creating a home for the holidays

By Paige Kieffer
Sun sailor Newspapers

No longer being in the home where you raised children. No longer having all of your family members nearby. These are some of the challenges that make feeling at home an important part of the holiday season, even if you cannot physically be there.

Tyler Stevens knows this family-place-comfort dynamic during winter holidays.

“During Christmas of 2012, I decided to build a place where my grandparents could live, and I knew that I wanted it to look and feel like a home,” he said.

He constructed BeeHive Homes in Excelsior, a memory loss care facility with 30 residents, some of whom took the first week of December to build their own holiday – decorating trees, hanging lights, baking cookies, creating gingerbread homes, hanging stockings and singing carols.

“No one wants to feel like they are in a facility. In many facilities when you instantly walk in you feel instantly sad,” Tyler said. “We try to make it look and feel warm and welcoming like a home.”

Those intentions drew from personal experience. His grandmother had stroke and developed dementia, and his grandfather had a stroke before Alzheimer’s set in. Stevens’ grandmother died before the facility was built but his grandfather lived at BeeHive for a year.

“For families, there are often times a lot of guilt because this is never the first option,” Tyler Stevens said. “Having families come and feel like a warm and fuzzy place comforts the families and helps the residents.”

Resident nurse Sue Weinzierl said that the holiday season can be especially difficult for families.

“Families are apart of the community,” she said. “We want families to be here especially during the holiday season. There are always people coming and going.”

Residents, school children and groups often visit BeeHive as volunteers. Local children performed Christmas pageants and girl scouts visited to sing carols.

“We are trying to keep as memories alive during the holidays,” Stevens said.

Contact Paige Kieffer at [email protected]

Sandra Eiche decorates a gingerbread house at the BeeHive Homes memory care on Dec. 4. (Sun Sailor photo by Paige Kieffer) Gerry Seurer and His wife Mary, who has early onset Alzheimer's, sits by the Christmas tree she helped decorate at the Excelsior BeeHive Homes memory care on Dec. 3. (Sun Sailor photo by Paige Kieffer) Resident nurse Sue Weinzierl, Connie Stevens and her son and owner of BeeHive Homes, Tyler Stevens. (Sun Sailor photo by Paige Kieffer)
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Gerry Seurer and His wife Mary, who has early onset Alzheimer's, sits by the Christmas tree she helped decorate at the Excelsior BeeHive Homes memory care on Dec. 3. (Sun Sailor photo by Paige Kieffer)