After 25 years in Corporate America, Lynn Ivey left a successful career behind for a very different life. The 61-year-old walked away from banking to care for her parents, who both battled dementia, and in the process found her life’s passion … and a husband! Lynn now runs The Ivey, Charlotte’s only memory wellness day center. She broke ground on the non-profit facility the same week her mom passed away. The Ivey provides daytime care for people living with memory loss from Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and she’s been helping care for other families for almost a decade now. We are thrilled to welcome Lynn Ivey as today’s FACE of Charlotte!
What made you start The Ivey?
During my family medical leave, I was spending so much time with my parents and seeing what was best for them, it just kept gnawing at me that this was a really good solution for both parents to have a day program. Daddy didn’t want to go to assisted living, and he didn’t want people in the house helping him. I had never heard of adult daycare, and I discounted it in the beginning because of the name, but it turned out to be such a great solution and I thought, I could do this.
Tell us about your parents’ dementia.
My mother started showing signs of memory loss and cognitive issues, and my dad joked that she had CRS — “can’t remember stuff.” We weren’t thinking about it being a form of dementia until things started happening that were worse. It was in 2003 that she got lost coming home from the beauty salon that she goes to every week – little things like that started registering. Dad started showing extreme signs of stress, and knowing what I know now, that was probably the beginning for him. I think the stress of caregiving in combination with some of the other conditions he had, contributed. That’s why to me it’s so important to have a place that’s focused on supporting the caregiver.
Tell us about The Ivey.
The Ivey supports the ability for members to make new friends in a nurturing environment surrounded by people like themselves. The Ivey is inviting, warm, and it looks and feels like home or a club. As a result, loved ones look forward to spending the day in a place that feels good. Therapeutic activities that are fun occur throughout the day, keeping members busy and active. A nursing team and a rehab team help promote and prolong independence.
What’s it like for you to be a part of this?
It’s incredibly rewarding to recognize that this is a business, but I am helping so many people. I’m helping the whole family — it requires whole family support (this disease), and sometimes I have to pinch myself that I’ve been able to help so many people. I wish I had one when my mom and dad were going through this.
What are some of your favorite parts about The Ivey?
Seeing the members dance and sing and enjoy every minute with live music by John Lewis.
You actually have a very sweet love story connected to The Ivey. Tell us!
Back in July 2011, John V. Moore was looking for a full-time residential place for his wife who was living with Alzheimer’s at the time. The Ivey was his last stop after visiting many places, and he was disappointed that we did not offer overnight. I mentioned that if he could help raise funds to purchase the lot next door to The Ivey, I could make it [an] overnight! I didn’t see him again until August 2013, three months after his wife passed away. He came by The Ivey to let me know she had passed away in early June and was wondering if I still wanted to purchase the lot next door. Of course, I exclaimed “YES!” So, within 30 days, he had donated the funds to The Ivey, and we had closed on the purchase.
The next three to four months, we worked closely together toward getting the property rezoned for respite homes for people living with dementia. After Christmas 2013, we started dating! It was so wonderful! I not only found someone very special, but there was so much commonality: a passion for families with Alzheimer’s; he was a successful entrepreneur who successfully sold his electrical supply company 15 years earlier to Home Depot! Fast forward to 2015. John sold 4 acres in South End where his business headquarters were located and used a portion of the proceeds to purchase The Ivey’s building and campus from the investor group. He became our landlord, and Valentine’s weekend 2016, we became engaged and married at The Ivey in June 2016! Happily ever after, the love of my life … I was 60 at the time and never married. Indeed, he was the one I had been waiting for!
Why is it so important to have a place like The Ivey, both for caregivers and their loved ones?
It allows individuals with dementia to remain in their own homes much longer and supports families who want to take care of their loved one at home for as long as possible. It’s convenient for the caregiver to have so much offered in one place and saves money by costing less than full-time residential care. Caregiving for dementia is very difficult, and caregivers need a break to help them refresh for caregiving in the evenings and weekends. Statistics prove that individuals need purpose and fun in life and should remain socially active for as long as possible.
What is your best piece of advice?
Make every moment count. Don’t worry about the past or the future … the present is the gift.
Aside from faith, friends and family, what three things can you not live without?
My health, a purpose in life and love.
Thank you, Lynn, for making Charlotte a better place to live! For more information about The Ivey, visit theivey.org.
Meet more amazing Charlotte women in our FACES archives! Prepare to be inspired!