Nea and Roberto Bittar stay close to residents' families
Couple, who are from Brazil, operate two adult-care homes
Nea and Roberto Bittar operate two adult-care homes in Beaverton - Crestwood Senior Living and Hunt Club Senior Living - with each one run by a home-care manager while the Bittars spend time at each one daily.
Crestwood, located close to the RedTail Golf Course, is a home full of five busy residents. On a recent morning, painting was one of several morning activities with more scheduled after lunch.
"They are active all day long," Nea Bittar said. "Besides painting, we play Bingo, color, make cards and do decoupage. Every Monday we have bible study, and (resident) Margaret leads a prayer before meals. Every other week we do a spa day.
"Two times a week, the residents look through magazines to pick out photos of food, and then we make the dishes. Each resident gets to choose the food for different days. We had 'Thanksgiving' a couple of weeks ago because someone wanted turkey, but everyone chose a different dessert. As people age, they lose their taste buds, so it's important to give them food they like."
The residents also like helping out in the house, such as putting dishes away or folding laundry.
"They fold laundry so well - it's like a project," Bittar said.
She also provides music and weekly sing-a-longs with a pianist who comes in to play the piano.
Bittar also believes in getting the residents out of the house and into the larger world.
"We go on outings to dinner, like to the Old Spaghetti Factory," Bittar said. "We get volunteers to help - my kids and their friends - and do it every week in the summer. We took the residents to Cirque du Soleil - there are discounted tickets for people in wheelchairs. And we go to concerts at nearby schools - we push the wheelchairs down the street.
"Some clients don't want to go and stay behind with a caregiver, but that's not going to stop the rest of us from going. At this stage of their lives, these seniors have so much taken away from them. Their life is pretty much breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I want them to experience the outside community."
Bittar came from Brazil 24 years ago to go to school, and when she was finished, her first job was as a certified nursing assistant.
"I felt this work was what God wanted me to do," she said. "Roberto and I worked in different places, including hospice, and learned, and we realized that the need for this type of care was so bad.
"But every time someone died, I was brokenhearted. I would say, 'No more,' and then we'd get another call. So nine years ago, we decided to open these homes. Prior to that, we looked at different ones, and I knew what I liked and didn't like. Some were smelly and not homey."
The homes were chosen in part for their gracious neighborhoods, and they are designated for dementia patients who come from secured memory-care facilities.
A key element to a compatible living situation is assessing potential clients to make sure they will fit in. "Once they move in, I can't ask them to move out unless they create a dangerous situation," Bittar said. "And their families become part of our family."