HOLDEN, Maine — With nursing homes across the state continuing to close there is an alternative taking root in one community. Marlene Walker worked in the banking world before she made the change to open the doors of her home and care for the elderly.
"Being in the banking and my grandmother at the Brewer rehab, something just came over to me and said Marlene open up your home to private home care for the elderly," Walker said.
Walker has three elderly women that live with her while she cares for them.
"My job is to give them the best life to the end," Walker said.
One of Walker's residents called her a "princess" one day and from then on Walker has been calling the men and women she cares for "kings and queens."
There is no website for Marlene Walker's home. Everyone that comes to her, hears about Walker's home by word of mouth and the words are positive, with a pile of references written by loved ones of Walker's former 'roommates' that have passed away.
Walker is licensed by the state and only takes private pay customers.
Right now, her home only holds three but in the future, she hopes to expand and serve more, while still keeping the feeling of home.
"Marlene told me she would care for my mom to the very end, no matter how difficult," Bonnie Sparks wrote. "She not only made good on that commitment she did so with expert knowledge for the end of life process and with unwavering kindness for her queen. She was all about my mom's comfort and quality of life."
"There’s 168 hours in a week and I’m with them about 130," Walker says.
Elizabeth DelJiodice came to Walker from a traditional nursing home and says her new home is much better.
"Well here I can get up when I like, I can pretty much do what I like I don’t think there’s very much to complain about," she said.
DelJiodice has been one of Walker's "queens" since February. When she was asked if she feels like Walker is her family, "I'm beginning to feel that way."