Howard Magazine - Page 43 - Clips and Confidence

Howard Magazine
- Page 43
Clips and Confidence
By Valerie Bonk For Howard Magazine Photos by Barbara Haddock Taylor

About every five weeks, 85-year-old Cynthia Bonora calls up the salon to make a hair appointment with the stylist who has been beautifying her for 12 years.

“It’s not just a haircut,” says Bonora, who comes in to get her short, wavy white hair trimmed, washed and blown dry. “We also gossip and talk and have fun catching up.”

Bonora lives at Heartlands Senior Living in Ellicott City, where Connie Runkles has been running Connie’s Clippers, a full-service salon and barber shop inside the facility, for more than 30 years.

For Bonora, the best part is that she doesn’t have to go far and can travel by herself to her appointments. Though the Heartlands resident considers herself independent, she no longer drives and uses a cane or walker to get around.

“It’s so convenient,” Bonora says. “She does a great job, and we’re lucky to have her.” Runkles, 65, was recruited to work at Heartlands by a woman she worked with at a different salon. She didn’t realize how much she’d enjoy working with seniors until she started cutting hair at the facility.

“I think it is because I can relate to them better and they really appreciate the work that I do,” Runkles says.

Inside the salon, a sign reads, “Studies show that a good haircut and a good hairstyle can do wonders for our self-esteem.”

And the potential benefits for seniors don’t stop there; a 2014 study by Concordia University found that lower self-esteem led to increased levels of cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone -- in older women and men, and vice versa. Researchers concluded that maintaining or improving self-esteem could help prevent health problems associated with aging.

That’s why Heartlands management thought that it was important to include the salon among its health services, with a focus on not just physical health but mental health and confidence as well.

“We’re trying to focus on what a good day is for them, and sometimes that’s having their hair done and feeling refreshed and important,” says Bonnie Hobbs, a registered nurse and assisted living director at Heartlands. “It’s crucial to uplift their spirits and provide socialization, and that’s exactly what the salon does for a lot of our residents.”

Heartlands isn’t the only local senior housing with an in-house salon — Lorien Harmony Hall in Columbia and Park View at Ellicott City also offer the amenity.

Several of those who live at Heartlands have standing appointments with Runkles, and she says she looks forward to greeting