Patriot Ledger Article: “Duxbury House changes lives for Plymouth families”

Exterior of Duxbury House Memory Care Residence

To read the original article in the Patriot Ledger, please visit their website.

A Good Age: How 2 families decided to move loved ones into memory care
Duxbury House changes lives for Plymouth families
Sue Scheible, The Patriot Ledger
11/23/21

DUXBURY – Anne Donovan was one of eight siblings growing up in Dorchester in the 1950s.

“She is not the type I envisioned having Alzheimer’s,” her younger sister Barbara Ready, of Plymouth, said.

A graduate of Emmanuel College, Donovan was outgoing, articulate, “a mover and a shaker, an in-charge kind of person.” She blossomed during a long career as a chief juvenile probation officer in Dedham and later embraced political roles in state and federal agencies.

She worked for former Gov. Michael Dukakis, with Hillary Clinton on the White House Millennium Council and for a Washington, D.C., law firm until she was 72.

She returned to Massachusetts, had homes in Duxbury and Plymouth and managed well until 2020, despite growing memory problems.

Annie Donovan, 78, in her living unit at Duxbury House memory care residence, a part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
Annie Donovan, 78, in her living unit at Duxbury House memory care residence, a part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger

“A year ago, we felt we couldn’t leave her alone,” Ready said. “She wasn’t cooking, was not eating, couldn’t drive. She would go walking and get lost. We were nervous about another winter.” 

As families gather for the holidays after being apart last year due to COVID restrictions, it will be a time for also considering what the future may hold for older relatives.

Ted Curtin, of Plymouth, describes his parents, Grace, 96, and Ted, 95, as a couple who “have never really been apart” in 67 years of marriage.

His father, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, had a long career as a submarine commander, then taught history at his alma mater, Norwood High School, for 10 years. His mother was a court officer in the Dedham courthouse. The couple retired to Plymouth, where Ted portrayed Master Jones on the Mayflower II replica for 17 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ted Curtin, 95, right, talks with his son, Ted Curtin Jr. during a visit to The Duxbury House, a memory care residence that is part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
Ted Curtin, 95, right, talks with his son, Ted Curtin Jr. during a visit to The Duxbury House, a memory care residence that is part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger

Grace began to develop memory problems and the couple moved to independent living at the Village at Duxbury, a senior community, where they managed well until Ted fell and broke his hip in 2019.

To help keep his parents together, their son Ted moved into their Village apartment for six weeks while his dad’s hip healed. When COVID arrived in 2020, however, and the state shutdown took hold, “we were worried my folks wouldn’t be able to find sufficient assistance and it would be too much for my dad to handle,” Ted said. 

The living room and dining area at a memory care household at Duxbury House.
The living room and dining area at a memory care household at Duxbury House.

In the fall of 2020, the Donovans and the Curtins were at a loss about what to do. Just in time, a new alternative became available when Duxbury House opened at the Village at Duxbury in October 2020.

Duxbury House provides families with options for caring 

Targeted memory care is one of the newer options for families in the spectrum of elder services as more people live longer. Duxbury House, which is part of Welch Senior Living, is described as an assisted living residence with memory care expertise and programs. It is designed for people who do not need skilled nursing home care but do need constant supervision.

Grace and Ted Curtin at the Village at Duxbury several years ago.
Grace and Ted Curtin at the Village at Duxbury several years ago. Family Photo.

Merry Dalahmeh, a nurse, is executive director of Duxbury House. The central mission, she said, is “getting to know each resident and watching them enjoy their days.” 

“Although we are not a skilled nursing center, we can accommodate residents’ needs as if they were in their own home,” she said. “We have a visiting nurse come in and do dressings and lab draws if a resident needs that, and a couple of residents have received hospice services as they would at home.”

The living space is designed to be cozy and home-like. There are two households. Each has 12 bedrooms, a dining area, a living room or community space, an area for arts and crafts and a den with TV.

The staff-resident ratio is one nurse and two home health aides for 12 residents. The aides all receive dementia certification training.

A passion for caring 

Shadessha Stallworth, 31, of Brockton, has been a home health aide for five years and chose to work in memory care.

“I enjoy the appreciation of the residents,” she said. “I listen to their stories and I just have a passion for it. I used to take care of my grandmother.” 

Annie Donovan is with her sister, Barbara Ready, at the Duxbury House on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
Annie Donovan is with her sister, Barbara Ready, at the Duxbury House on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger.

The dementia certification has given her insights into what to expect and what to do if residents with dementia become anxious and want to go home.

“If they are sad, I might give them a hug, or try to do something to cheer them up, talk about what they like, or their past, or suggest we watch a movie,” Stallworth said. “We also have support from the nurses and other aides.”

“This has really proved to be a godsend,” Grace and Ted Curtin’s son Ted said. “With the onset of COVID, it really gave us a great deal of security to know my folks are safe and well taken care of. The staff are affectionate, kind and caring and have a sense of how to be with people with memory issues. They have all sorts of things to keep people engaged and thinking – fun things, thoughtful things. The rapport between my folks and the staff really makes you feel good about where they are.”

Ted Curtin, 95, right, talks with his son Ted Curtin Jr. at Duxbury House, part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
Ted Curtin, 95, right, talks with his son Ted Curtin Jr. at Duxbury House, part of the Village at Duxbury, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger.

Ready said, “It is not an easy decision to take someone out of their home, and for every family it’s different.”

Donovan has five brothers and sisters and all were involved.

“We all started investigating and we liked the philosophy of the Duxbury House. It seemed something Annie would enjoy. She would be safe and engaged. The social piece of her life had been huge and she no longer had it.”

Last week, Donovan was moving from one activity to another with confidence, and as Ready watched her, she said, “She has stopped asking when was she going home to her own house. She is very comfortable and I think she thinks that she works there.”

To read the original article, please visit The Patriot Ledger Website.

Reach Sue Scheible at sscheible@patriotledger.com.

Duxbury House Family Testimonials

Caregiver Talking To Senior Man at Memory Care Community

Duxbury House Memory Care Residence has received wonderful words of appreciation from families during the current pandemic. To anyone who has sent in such a message, we say “Thank You!” Caring for your loved ones is our privilege.


“For almost 3 years, [our loved one] had dealt with the growing effects of Alzheimer’s. It was a very hard and painful decision to decide that she needed residential care at a Memory Care Residence. Our decision to choose Duxbury House has been a terrific choice. The care they provide to each resident is beyond what I ever thought was possible. Each staff member whether they are activity coordinators, office staff, nurses, general help, or cooking staff all know all of the residents and go out of their way to support and help them with daily activities.

The Residence is first class with a layout designed for resident support and activities. They keep residents active with news discussions, exercise, arts and crafts, painting, games (physical and mental), and community meetings.

The food is excellent with dedicated chefs who are very accommodating to each resident’s schedule. I visit almost daily and see the support the staff gives to all residents and it is very comforting to know how they are treated.

Since coming to Duxbury House, [our loved one] has become more relaxed and she feels safe and secure. I am so relieved that she is in such a safe environment for her and that she is enjoying her daily routines.”

-Mike S.
Family Member Testimonial

The Stewarts enjoy activities offered through Duxbury House.

“Duxbury House was such an incredible find! My family and I feel so fortunate to have our mom living in such a warm and caring environment. The physical space is beautifully decorated, bright, cheerful, and clean, and there are lovely outdoor areas that are frequently used for activities, socializing, or just lounging about. The atmosphere is so homey, truly calming, and comforting. More importantly, the staff is remarkable. They provide activities galore to keep the residents active and engaged and are so wonderfully attentive and kind, meeting the needs of each individual in a way that appears seamless. To sum it up, Duxbury House has become my mom’s safe place and anyone that’s familiar with dementia knows that you can’t ask for much more than that. Thank you, Duxbury House.”

– Janice F.
Family Member Testimonial

Janice F. and her mother enjoying the holidays at Duxbury House

“Virtually every staff member at Duxbury House – including the aides, nurses, kitchen and custodial staff – has been exceptionally kind, thoughtful, loving, and caring in my experience. It really is quite amazing to be able to say this about any organization, but it is true of Duxbury House. Everyone who has worked with our family has been exceptional and deserves recognition for their efforts. You all have our love and gratitude for what you do.”

– Ted C.
Family Member Testimonial


“When you come here, you feel like you’re truly part of a community. And when our individual health needs changed, it has been such a relief that the village at Duxbury has been so well equipped to my wife and I transition into new accommodations that allow us to remain close to each other and to the groups, activities, and friendships we’ve become so involved in.”

-Ernie T.
Family Member Testimonial

Ernie T. and his wife, Jean T.

“The staff at the Duxbury House provide a safe and caring environment. The staff made it so easy for our loved one to settle into her new environment. She is always happily engaged with the staff and other residents. It brings us great comfort to see how she is content, happy, and active.”

– Bill D.
Family Member Testimonial

Siblings Anne and Bill D.

The following is a video testimonial from Duxbury House family member Ed D.


The following is a video testimonial from Duxbury House family member Ted C.