Aging in Style with Lori Williams
Aging in Style with Lori Williams

Episode · 1 year ago

035. The Importance of Beauty Salons in Senior Living Communities


What’s it like working as a hairdresser at a senior living community?
Margo Brooks would tell you it’s been the best 9 years of her life, full of nonstop laughs, fun and fulfillment. Not only does she cut and style hair for senior men and women, but she uses her beauty school training for grooming and applying makeup to help seniors feel their best.

Margo tells Seniors Living Expert Lori Williams how she started working at the onsite senior living salon and the joys of the job. She’ll also discuss the seniors that inspire her and how (in the words of one of her clients) feeling good is “better than medicine.”

Topics discussed:
- Life at senior living and memory care communities
- Cutting hair for memory care patients
- Caring for loved ones with dementia
- Beauty and grooming for seniors
- Hairstyling and makeup for funerals

Takeaways from this episode:
- Hair appointments give seniors something to look forward to if they’re lonely or in need of self-care. They often share information with hairdressers they wouldn’t tell anyone else.
- Seniors feel better if they look better. It’s been said, “When I come in here, it's better than medicine.”
- Seniors with memory issues often love getting their hair done just as much as anybody else, but one important tip is to take a slower approach, be patient with them, and explain what you’re doing each step of the way.
- One service some hairdressers perform is styling hair or applying makeup for the funeral of the deceased. This is a gift to family and to honor their loved one by ensuring they look like they did in life.

To connect with Margo Brooks:[0]=68.ARCZdUVW5H321uPN_otyZPnBJg9CRvI23BTWbHpFgyEsTlLYsQfbbaJ6v-ruwTdh3j4S2fcK1VaTFCIAeCXsNzC5VWR9921bir1o8xpDOzroMinXxWVB0tT2G7qESJJrLRcMzD4sNTnDbArbxjsuS61qpTKB0cttA4-znOchVkui0xqPeVP99ORefL_vCK4e-TA2XN1fOQ-wyVbpu419GXjohOoR-TevCYCObkwxdPfoB69-eivkpIeiMhTnAEqEVFFRR3ikv5MBYBwyvf_k69ASYU5AS34YbaaCPeY0xnafnsYcbbL06-6-yI6fy0l_dBVysWt4q7Q4G3TqcclczHxIL7vc

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Welcome to aging in style with me, Laurie Williams. I'm an optimist by nature and I believe you can follow your dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion in me to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniors and aging. In my mid S, I followed my own dream and found at my company, where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing and resources. On this podcast we cover all aspects of aging. Joanna's each week to meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. The fact is, we're all aging, so why not do it in style? Hey, welcome back to another episode of aging in style with Laurie Williams. Today's topic is about beauty salons in senior living communities, and it's a question I get a lot. You know, people don't they want to make sure that mom is able to go get her hair done and don't know if they're going to have to provide transportation to take her somewhere. And so all community senior communities, you know, the independent living, assisted in memory cares, they offer salons on site with really special people who are there to do their hair and nails and just make them all look beautiful. So I want it to introduce you to someone today who that is what she does and she does a fabulous job of it. So our guest today is Margo Brooks and she has run the hair salon at Rosewood assist at living in memory care, which is in flower Mount Texas. She has run that for almost nine years. Marco has been doing here for thirty five years and she went to beauty school at the age of sixteen and attended a vocational school to take cosmatology in her junior and senior years of high school. So she knew what she wanted to do in life by her senior year. She was licensed and had a job doing hair even before she graduated from High School and she married her high school sweetheart at eighteen and spent first fifteen years of her marriage in the Marine Corps college waiting tables doing hair teaching cosmatology.

Very busy lady. She has three kids, including twins, and I just think she's going to have a lot of really fun and exciting information to share with this so welcome, Margo. Thank you. Thank you very much, Lori. I'm so glad you you joined me here today because I just I love your passion for seniors and for what you do, and I know that's going to come across in the podcast. Yes, I love, love seniors. Yes, you do. So okay. So what drew you into working with seniors? Well, I've always loved seniors. My grandmother was my hero and I loved being around her when I was a child and into my teen years and loved hanging out with her and her friends and seeing the friendships that they had and in a crowded room and a party, I was always drawn to older people. I love their stories. They're great listeners, they're genuinely interested in you. And so what drew me to do in hair, I believe is well, in beauty school we focused on doing roller sets in perms, so I was good at it. And then for the first ten fifteen years doing hair, I worked in big salon's doing the latest and greatest and but I always had my mom my grandmother's hair to do and I had my children and I was working with my daughter's girl Scout Troupe and worked at rambling oaks doing crafts whatever we could bring girl scouts in to do. And when all three of my kids were in elementary school I decided I'm going to go back to work, but I didn't really think I wanted to do here because I didn't want to work the long night hours and weekends when the client tell that I was used to doing would need me. And so I saw a rosewood being built. The trailer was out front. I went inside and ask them if they had any positions to fill where maybe I could help with activities,...

...and they began interviewing me and they thought well, you could, you could be a care partner, we could move you into that. We already have an activity director, so maybe we could move you into that. I didn't want to do the care partner position, so I just told them, you know, you can call me when you need that activity assistant because that's really what I want to do. Well, they continued on with the interview and they found out that I was a license are USSER and the next thing I know we were walking in the building before it was painted. It was still concrete floors and dry wall, and they said here's the salon. We want this to be your thing, and next thing I know I was signing a contract. That was in August of two thousand and twelve and by October we had the big grand opening. It has been the greatest nine years of my life in my career because being with these people, I absolutely adore them and I bring so much to their day. I give them something to look forward to. They feel better if they look better. I've been told by residents when I come in here it's better than medicine and and I try, I try to make the salon a steel magnolias. You know, you can come in there, you can laugh, you can cry, you can tell jokes. They tell me stories, you tell me things they probably don't tell other people, because it's kind of like that you're sitting in a chair with someone behind you and you're not facetoface. They can see you in the mirror's a reflection. So they they pour their heart out to me and I just listen and it's a great place to be, you know, to buy that chair and being there for those people, because sometimes they need prayer, sometimes they need just to have their handheld and just getting that one on one time, and sometimes it's the only one. UNTI, one time they get M...'s very important. I am so very busy in there when rosewoods full. I am busy Monday through Friday. I do on average of thirty to forty ladies regularly weekly. They come in, some of them come twice a week and I do the men every three or four weeks. So it's happened. It's fun and I have music in there. You might walk by and everybody's belting out amazing grace or how great thou are, or I try to keep it fun and I want them to enjoy every single minute that they're with me. I promised to always keep have candy in the candy dish and just the little things and they really love it. They and their families love it. Their families step by and often sit and they have places to be, but they enjoy being there and they end up staying, you know, for a bit. And I think what you said it's like a steel Magnolia's I think that you hit it the nail on the head there, because when I have visited, I've been in your salon and seeing you working on ladies hairs and it does it just has such a just a great vibe in there. It's fun, Fun, and your passion and your love for your seniors, and I've told you this before. It just it shines through, you can see it and it's just a beautiful, beautiful thing. So I love I love what you're doing. So kind of talking about the salon. What is what's like a typical day? And I'm sure they're always a little bit different, but what's a typical day like for you? A typical day? Well, they always beat me there. Always they are waiting, they have breakfast and they get there. If I my first appointments at nine, my ten and sometimes thirty are sitting on the bench outside this line waiting. It's a big day. They can't wait. And I get there and open the door and get the music playing and I'm always the more the Merrier, right, and people are walking by, they come in and so I get to do in... and sometimes I have to step out if I've got to go help somebody. It's not unusual for me to have to go get someone out of their room and sometimes I have to help and put their sacks and shoes on and I'll do anything for them. You know, it's family. I treat them all like they are my family and I would do anything for him. It doesn't matter what they need, you know, and so I catch a lot of different things when I go to their rooms. Sometimes I have to stay in their bit to help them, to get them ready for the transition to come into the beauty shop. But there's curveballs all day long, you know where someone might need to go to the restroom and but everybody hangs out. Everybody's just patient. Yet we do a lot of singing, I do make up and I most of them a lat of course, this was before covid. I'm where I'm not doing makeup now, but I always put that final touch on them, especially if they're going somewhere. MMM, as you know, as we age, our eyebrows fade and lesson and just putting a little bit of eyebrows and some lipstick and some foundation to smooth out their complexion, it's a game changer. It takes not takes two and they look in the mirror and they light up and that right there, I mean that tells me, yeah, I'm doing good here. Now they're happy and that that's my goal. Right. They feel beautiful. Yeah, exactly. That's the when you feeling beautiful. As a game changer. It is and no matter what your age, and I think that's really it is so important for people to realize that even if you are ninety eight years old, you want to feel beautiful. And I know, as seniors like you said, their eyebrows fade and that sort of thing, but I mean also with their with vision, it's hard, their vision fails and it's hard to put makeup on and and...

...sometimes, I don't know, do you do any like waxing or plucking, because I know a lot of times senior like you, okay, because we you know, it's just part of it, guys. So we start getting ten hairs and stuff and start of and it's real. It is and I tell my daughter that, you know, when I'm that age, she needs to make sure much in hairs are plucked. So it is a real it's a real thing. It it is. I do their eyebrows, I do their chin, I W I can wax their lip. I like to do some test on their skin to make sure, you know, and check with their family to make sure that they aren't going to have any allergic reaction or anything. But flucking, anything I can and do to improve their looks, to make them feel better. That is my mission and my day. I do the men to from the ear hair to the nose hair to the eyebrows, you know, going all the way across, and I'm not allowed to shave, of course, you know, with State Board, but I do. I do everything I can from the neck up to help them and I've been known to help them with wardrobes to you know, I've grandmothers that are going to their daughter's weddings. I'll come in on a Saturday and I will get their hair, their makeup, I'll dress them, make sure their shoot and then the family just has to come pick them up. You know, if I know about events, I go out of my way because I everyone there. I take pride and how they look. They represent me and if they're not looking good, then I'm not doing my job. That's right. I love that. Now you have assistant living and memory care. I'm sure there are some differences, but when you're doing hair for someone with memory care, is that a little more difficult? How does that work? Is there any differences? Oh, definitely it can be. With memory care. Sometimes you have behaviors, but I just don't bring them in and hurry him into...

...the chair. And try to lay back. That doesn't work. I sit with them, I pull my chair up beside him and I get face to face and I hold their hand and I explain to them what I'm going to do and most of the time, if they know and you give it to them slow so they can comprehend what's about to happen, they are much better. You can't just win them into it. MM. They trust me. So when you get that level of trust, you don't I don't have any issues with them. They love it just as much as anybody else, you know, but sometimes you just have to take it a little bit slower of approach. That's wonderful. When we were talking earlier and you had mentioned something which I thought was so interesting, and I love that you do this, but when your grandmother passed away, you went and took care of her makeup to make sure she looked like her and look beautiful, and that's a service that you have provided through the years for other seniors and continue to do so. Tell us a little bit about that. Yes, yes, I do. Yes, when my grandmother passed away and I was just fresh out of beauty school, we were at the funeral home and the topic of her hair came up and they said you have a picture, you know, will give it to the girl who does hair, and I'm like no, I'll do that, I'll be doing it, and my family's like thinking, I'm a little girl, I can't go in there and do that, you know, and my aunt, one of my biggest fans, she's like, if she wants to do it, she can do it and I'll go with her. And she did and it was hard, but I did it and she looked like my grandma and if someone else would have done it, she wouldn't have looked the way that. I know what she looked like. I know the way she were lipstick and way were she were here. So from that point on, anyone that I knew that had a death and they needed the service as I always let them know. You don't have to use me, I...

...just want to put it out there. Let me know if you need me, and I got called many times for it, and then, of course, the last ten years that I've been doing here at rose would I'm called frequently. I always let families know that I'm available, depending on their situation, and I do it a lot. It's an honor, it's one of the best gifts that I can give to families. They're so thankful for it because I was the last one that did their hair when they were alive. So I can give them that final look and and they look like they're supposed to look and, you know, takes ages off of them too. They just look absolutely beautiful. I've been very proud of the work that I've done at the funeral homes for and her families, but that's such a beautiful thing that you do and, like you said, it is it's a gift for the family because they want to their last time that they see the physical body of their loved one. They want them to look like how they've remembered you. They don't want them not, you know, with too much makeup or just their hair styled incorrectly. So you you know what their hair look like and because you were doing it, or the wrong color lipstick, and you know that that's a big thing. You know they've been wearing the same lipstick for fifty years and and someone might not know. That's a big deal for their families. The families like she didn't wear that Color Lips Don yeah, it's that you do that. So we also talked a little bit. I know we're also suck a heir in about Covid, but covid has effected what you do. So tell us how it affected your work and being able to go in and into hair. Yeah, so I haven't been able to do much hair this year. We're coming up on a year when this all started and I was out from March twelve through October twelve. Was In for a couple weeks in October, then out, then back in in November, then... for just a little bit in December and then out. And with the flucys and kicked up in the winter time, it was safer to just keep the residence quarantine. There was no communal dining, no group activities and the Salon was closed. So since before Christmas I've been closed and I was supposed to have my big grand opening to go back in on March first and we had the terrible winter weather that flew through here and the pipes above the salon burst and it's a real big mess and the Salon is now in a state of repair. However, silver lining guy find to see if it was silver lining. Everything's out of there. They're repairing it. It's going to be like brand new. I'm going to get new curtains and new paint and it's going to just be gorgeous when we when we get back in there, I'm thinking we're looking at two or three weeks, you know, maybe for because you never know what contractors but I'm hoping, let's see, by the end of March. I'm hoping to be back in there, but it is it's definitely affected my business. But I've kept in touch with them. I text with the residents that context. I am in constant contact with the families. My daughter and I have taken things up there, whether it be snacks or crossword books or goodie bags. I stay very involved and trying to provide some happiness and quality of life form while they're quarantined. So even though I haven't been in there, I've been trying to give them a piece of me. MMM. So I'm ready to get back. I'm I feel like with everybody getting vaccinated, it's going to be safe and things are going to open up again. And the one thing I will tell you about seniors is they are tough cookies. HMM. Going through hard times is not their first road too. You know, our children in our generation is not had. Each generation...

...has a little bit easier. You know what they lived through and the depression, and they're like, we got this, you just got to pray, you got to keep positive, we're going to be on the other side of this. And as long as they can maintain that kind of an add I think that they they knew well and it's been depressing for some of them, but we know about those people and we try to go the extra mile to make them feel better. In some way. They've done quite well. So I crossed paths recently with the gentleman who shares my passion for seniors. His name is Jimmy Zlo and he shared with me that after both of his grandparents had moved into a senior care community, his family's world was just turned upside down as they became caregivers overnight. As you know, being a caregiver to someone close to you is often overwhelming and there's just so much for you to manage, even with the support of living in the senior care community, like making sure your loved one is all the products they need and keeping them stocked when stuff runs out. Well, Jimmy had that problem too, and he was scrolling through all of these product reviews across the Internet and, like most of us in the sandwich generation, we don't have enough hours in the day, so it can end up being way too time consuming and frustrating. He wished there's a simpler way to shop for his grandparents. And then, of course, the pandemic head which prevented visitation to the communities, making the process even more difficult. So Jimmy decide to launch his own business to solve this problem. He found it Joe and Bella, to make shopping for older adults simple. They carry everything from comfy clothes to creative gifts. They even have toilet trees that can be automatically reordered in tech. That makes caregiving easier. And what I love, and I know y'all would love this too, is that each and every product on Joe and Bella has been carefully selected by caregiving experts. Jimmy is giving us an exclusive offer for the listeners of this podcast. You can use Promo codes style to receive ten percent off your first purchase at Joe and Bellacom. That's code style style for ten percent off at Joe...

...and Bellacom. That's wonderful. The kind of definitely leads me into the next question, and this was sort of a loaded question because I know that you have so many seniors who inspire you, but I always like to ask if there's a senior who's inspired you, or many seniors, and can to tell us about that? Oh Gosh, I have so many, so many that inspire me. I mean there's couples that are up there that have come and gone and they inspire me by showing their love for each other, they're they're strong. Marriage. Is One couple that I just absolutely adore. He will be a hundred and one years old. She passed away right after covid he has broken bones and come back from so much. He's a very strong individual. He exercises every day, he reads, he reads readers, Digest, he does cross words, he stay sharp, but watching him take care of his wife, that inspires me, and I mean because we're all going to age and when I watched them, I always thought, Gosh, I hope my marriage is like this in the end, because he took care of her, he loved her, he sang to her and she was noncommunicative, you know, and she she knew him, you know, and she would hold his hand and I just watching them and watching the love that people had for each other. And even in people that live lost bouses, they inspire me. How they got they go on with life, they talk about the wonderful years they had and, you know, I can think of one person in particular. She's like, you know, she'll show me pictures of him all...

...the time and he's been gone for ten years and she's like, he was the love of my life and yeah, and I'm just like, oh my gosh, you're breaking my heart, and she looks at the positive side of it, like, but I had all those years. So, you know, God gave me him and I just have to you know, look, now have my friends, I still have my family. They continue even after a huge, enormous loss. They continue to find a way to live, you know, in their later years when times can be boring or depressing, and it's all about their attitude. Those people, they inspire me so much. I had a lady that she used to come in and she always sang the same song. She was she had dementia. She was in the memory care part of the building. Fran is the one who always told me you, my dear are better than medicine. When I come in here, you make me feel better because when I look better I feel better, and I never forgot that. And she always sang this song called the Billboard Song from Doc and Merle Watson. Look it up. It's the funnest song. I would sing it for you, but I'm not very insane. I would not do it justice. I will definitely look at up people like her. She, she she inspires me. Gosh, I I can think of another lady that inspires me. Okay, so she had white hair and she says to me I want, I want to go be a blond today and I said really, do you think your daughter will be okay with that? And she said my daughter's not the boss of me, and I like you're right, she's not, but I don't want to make her mad. She goes well,...

I don't care. Make Her mad, I don't care. So I'm like, I don't know what to do. Right. Should I do this? That? I not do it. So I went over and consulted with the nurse and had her come in and and she's like, if she wants one, do blind. I'm like, okay, so we did. It turned out great. She walked out of there, like, I mean blonds have more fun attitude. She sat on the couch and then the nurse went up to and she said, are you looking for a husband? And she's like well, maybe. And then there's this guy sitting next to her and it's John and she says, John, are you looking for a wife, because I'm looking for a husband. What kind of dates would you take me on? He goes, cheap, cheap she goes, and she started laughing and I mean this is the kind of things that unfold on days and it just brings light to the day and we yet in the whole place is laughing. And and she did the blond thing for a couple months and then she went back to the white but she sure did have a good two or three months playing that up with everybody and use the talk of Rosewood and Oh, I bet she was let's do. What did her daughter think? She was like, Oh dear, what she do now? So it's you're all turned out okay, but I always worry. I want to make a family members upset. You know. So, yeah, but yeah, she she inspired me. Let's see. Yeah, there's so many inspiring stories. I mean, in nine years, the people that I have come in contact with and the families and, Oh gosh, that the men that are military heroes we have. We have a couple that have been through three wars. You know, they have purple hearts and they always inspire me because they've been through so...

...much and yet they just are such light, humble people. MMM, and they truly inspire me. Yeah, you know, seniors have the best stories. I they really do, and I mean I feel you know, like you do, that we're so blessed working in this because we get to hear these amazing stories and that that's part of what I want to do at this podcast is to share that with other people who don't realize what absolute gems getting to know your senior friends can be. You know, if they're just amazing, they are. They are and and they need friends more than anybody because people, you know, wives, are busy and I always encourage girl scouts and boy scout groups in national honor society go in, find a place to get plugged in, whether you do a puzzle with somebody or sit and help them with a cross word or call being go or just sit in the couch with them. MMM. I have a story of one of my boys and I were having a debate and he felt he was right and I felt he was wrong and we went it. I said we're going to go to Rosewood. So we went in and there was about eight ladies sitting down the couch and they just love Steven and I said, Stephen, tell him, tell them our tell him the story about our debate, and they of course sided with me and you need to tell your Mama you're sorry, and he did and it was the greatest thing and he was like, they were right, mom when you take them to the next generation and it's someone besides parents, it means more to him and they kind of think, oh, yeah, she was right, but yes, stuff like that. I mean I I've gone up there and shared dinners and lunches and breakfast, taking them donuts in the morning. It's not just about doing hair. They truly are if I'm...

...having a bad day, that's where I go because when I leave I feel better. MMM MMM, and it's so, so true. I mean, I that's what I loved when I worked in a senior community. It was every day. It didn't feel like going to a job, and I'm sure you would agree with this. It was like I'm going to see my friends, you know, and you walk in and, in the course pre covid times, hug on everyone and just hear their stories and it was just such a joy to be able to work in a senior community and I think that's important for people to know. Yeah, absolutely well, thank you so much for being on the show and sharing about what you do. I just I love it and I'm sure everyone listening can hear the passion that you have for what you do and for the seniors and they are so, so blessed to have you there at Rosewood. Yes, thank you so much for having me. And there was one thing that I wanted to read in some port part of the interview and I'll go ahead and we can end with me reading it. Okay, great, as it says so much about why doing hair in a salon is so important. This is a from John Steinbeck. The hairdresser is. That's what it's called, the hairdresser is. It is my considered opinion that the hairdresser is the most influential person in any community. When the public goes to a hairdresser, something happens to them. They feel safe, they relax. The hairdresser knows what their skin is like under the makeup. They know their age. They don't have to keep up any kind of pretense. People tell a hairdresser things they wouldn't they are confess to a priest and they are open about matters they try to conceal from their doctor. When people place their secret lives in the hairdressers hands, the hairdresser gains and authority few other people attain. I have heard hairdressers quoted with complete conviction on art,...

...literature, politics, economics, childcare and morals. I tell you, a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser welves a power beyond the comprehension of most people. So when I open that Salan, my one of my dear friends, had that printed and framed and it's it's in my salon. I think it's very true and it is. I want the salon to be a place to come enjoy yourself, half fun, look pretty, something to look forward to and if you come to my beauty shop I can promise you your you're going to leave feeling good. HMM. Yeah, it's a safe place for them to share with you things that maybe they can't share with anyone else also. So yeah, and I also, before we end here, want to give view a huge plug because during that snowstorm, Lori senior services helped legends get cots and beds and blankets and pillows brought in, when some of US had no cell service or transportation to help. You made that happen because some of the sister locations had no water, no electricity and they had to transfer residents to other locations and we needed these things and within hours you made that happen. Well, it was so my pleasure to be able to do that. I'm just thank you enough. And this is what Lori does, Lori Senior Sus services, I mean you are such an asset to our community. Okay, I really thank you for everything you do. Well, I I appreciate that. It's just for me. It's like this is my community and I love our seniors and just the thought of a senior not having a blanket or a place to sleep, it just I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. So I'm glad I have such a great network and to be able to...

...put it out on social media and thankfully we had power so I could I could do it and had internet part of the time, so so it's always my honor to be able to help out. Yeah, so, yeah, that's a great, great story. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate that and thank you for being on the show. And, as always, guys, if you are looking for resources for seniors or want to go back and listen to all episodes of the podcast, you can find it on my website, which is Lorie Williams senior Servicescom. And, as always, thank you for listening. We'll talk to you next time. By Bye.

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