2015 Nominees Section
Anwar M. Saeed
Position: Executive Director/Administrator
Organization: ALICIA CARE Homes
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Dr. Saeed has touched many lives in his mission "to help the frailest of the frail". With the opening of his first residential care home for elderly in 2001, Alicia Care in Laguna Niguel, with the title of Executive Director and Administrator, he has been on the front lines offering a solution to the age-old question, "What do we do about Mom or Dad?". He believes everyone who crosses his threshold is deserving of the same respect, love and compassion as if they were his own mother or father.
Why should this person be nominated
For almost all of his life, Dr. Saeed has been at the forefront, serving sick, frail and impoverished members of society. His compassion, humility and unselfish character have touched many lives in his mission to "help the frailest of the frail". Dr. Saeed's dedication to helping people deal with the devastating effects of dementia began long before he earned his medical degree; His journey as a caregiver began at age 11 when he helped his mother care for his grandmother who suffered from (what was then called) senility. He developed a fierce determination to improve the quality of lives of people with dementia or other geriatric health problems. "My grandma was an amazing lady, and I hope her legacy will be to improve the lives of others through my work." As a young medical student, he put his studies on hold to care for a respected professor and mentor who was suffering from an autoimmune disorder and had been abandoned by his family and friends. He said, "...I knew this was what I was meant to do. After my Grandma, I once again experienced life declining, dying and death up close and personal." He believes "A diagnosis of a terminal illness makes it imperative that you make the most of every moment".
A humble man, Dr. Saeed will tell you he has opened his heart and mind to those in his care as well as those who work alongside him. He speaks of the many residents he has had in his home over the years, and each story is spoken with love and respect. He carries in his heart those who have since passed, while committed to caring for those in his charge today. He embodies the unique qualities of sensitivity, empathy and ability to instill a sense of hope, which distinguishes him and makes him worthy of recognition as a "Senior Care Hero".
To share an example of his selfless compassion: Dr. Saeed had a routine of going to a local coffee shop for breakfast after dropping his son off at school. He recalls, "Frequently I would see a frail and infirm street woman pushing her shopping cart filled with what few worldly possessions she had. She looked like a woman in her late 70s. You could see all the bones in her face, she was unkempt and her skin leathered as if she had been in the sun all her life. She always wore sun glasses and would never talk. Frequently I would buy her breakfast as well". He eventually learned her name was Molly. She had been homeless for 30 years. Molly was a victim of circumstances; she had suffered excessively at the hands of her abusive husband, receiving regular harsh beatings. She became sick, lost her job, and was thrown out of her house by the cruel man. On a Christmas Day, Dr. Saeed offered Molly a chance to live at Alicia Care and rebuild her health. He told her, "I will take you to my home, get you showered, I will provide you food, will get you new clothes, I am going to get your medical treatment done and am going to give you a little pocket money for your needs. Come with me". He introduced her to his caregivers as a new resident and showed her a private room which would be hers with the promise to care for her at no charge for the rest of her life. She was told " I will ensure to preserve your dignity and nurture your spirit".
Time passed quickly. Molly lived with Dr. Saeed at Alicia Care for 31 months as his privileged guest. In the last month of her life, she suffered a massive stroke. She could not recover and received hospice care. She died peacefully with Dr. Saeed, a hospice nurse and the caregivers at her bedside. To honor her wishes, her remains were cremated and her ashes scattered at a specified location. Molly, who used to be a schoolteacher, left a letter for Dr. Saeed in a sealed envelope with a notation; "To be opened ONLY by Dr. Saeed after my death". This is what she had written:
"My Dearest Dr. Saeed,
You picked me up from a street and put me in your heart. Without you, I don't know where I would be. I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in. Hungry not only for bread--but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing--but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks--but homeless because of rejection. My whole world was changed forever by you. In you, I witnessed an other side of humanity. I do not have words to say "Thank you" to you. For all your kindness and compassion, nobody can reward you, only but the Lord. Keep up doing the good work. Good bye, Molly".