By Stacy Smith

Born and raised in Moulton, Alabama, Ms. Falkville Health Care Center 2019 is Carolyn Daniels.

A warrior spirit entered Falkville Health Care Center last year with Daniels. Staff and residents watched a miracle unfold before their eyes as the 71-year-old was determined to not lose the battle for her life.

“When Carolyn arrived last year, I met a frail woman. She did not say a word, and was ‘lifeless.’ We almost lost her before we even got the chance to know what a blessing she would come to be, not just to staff, but to all who walked in the door,” said Heather Hollis, Activities Director, Falkville Health Care Center.

Every day she became stronger and stronger. Daniels points to two people she admires as inspiration.

“My monther and grandmother both shared raising me. These were two of the strongest women I have ever known. Between the two of them, they gave me their strength, knowledge, and a strong work ethic,” said Daniels.

“Living in the nursing home has given me the strength to get up and about. Meeting the people at Falkville Health Care Center, both staff and residents, has helped me to remain active and vital,” said Daniels.

With that strong spirit, Daniels was the first to embrace the It’s Never Too Late computer program. She told staff, “Show me,” and began to show others how to work on a tablet PC.

“We have tablet PCs with various games on them that I enjoy very much,” said Daniels.

She has two children and seven grandchildren. She remembers the year that both of her children were in their school math tournament. Her son Todd was on the high school team, and her daughter Heather was on the middle school team.

“They both won trophies that year. My eyes still fill with tears and my heart swells with pride when I think about this,” said Daniels.

She also recalls serving for years as a board member of the Spirit of America Festival in Decatur. One Independence Day, she had the honor and privilege to welcome President Ronald Regan for their Independence Day celebrations.

Daniels also served as an officer of the Decatur Newcomers Club. She has lived in many places including in Massachusetts, where she held a real estate brokers license, in Mississippi, where she earned both a health and life insurance license and a gaming license and in Alabama, where she held a real estate sales license. Through her various experiences as the newcomer, she brings that welcoming spirit with her to those at Falkville Health Care Center.

“There is not a single person who walks through these doors, resident, staff, potential resident, or visitor that she does not know their name,” said Hollis.

Currently, Daniels serves as vice-president of the Resident Council. She rolls down the halls popping her head in doorways to remind and invite residents to attend the activity for the day. She makes sure no one is left behind. At Falkville Health Care Center, there is a dementia unit. Daniels makes sure that those residents are included in all activities, and helps come up with ideas that they can enjoy.

During resident council meetings she will lead discussions. When an issue is brought up, she is often the first to provide a solution.

A complicated innovation that Daniels facilitated was in working with the Falkville Health Care Center dietary department, which provides a daily menu with a main dish and an alternate. However, there are more options available. Daniels gathered from each resident what each person liked based on what the kitchen had available. It was an incredible feat that she accomplished by going back and forth between residents and the dietary staff resulting in creation of a custom menu to meet various resident likes that also met dietary needs.

Hollis said, “Carolyn listens to every word, every good moment and bad moment of your life, and lives it with you. She offers advice, a shoulder to lean on, will laugh with you, and cry with you. Her door is always open. Trust me when I tell you that if you don’t walk through her door, she will come and find you to make sure you are OK.”

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2019 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 19, we’ll post a story about Ms. Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center Ruth Brigham.

Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is July 29. Click here for more information.