How Shirley & Ed Made Their First Days in Memory Care a Success

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Shirley and Ed were Glastonbury High School sweethearts. As a young couple, they moved 20 miles north to Ellington, Connecticut, where Ed worked as a mason contractor and Shirley ran the liquor shop they owned while also raising their six children. “We had a very exciting life,” she says.

Until it wasn’t.

“It Wasn’t Enough”

“Neither one of us can drive,” Shirley says. “It got to be the only people we saw were our kids. That’s OK — we have a lot of kids — but it wasn’t enough. There wasn’t enough to do.”

Depression and isolation have become increasingly common among today’s aging population, and they come with significant health risks. For seniors living alone in their own home, the risk of social isolation dramatically increases if they experience declining mobility, have a lack of access to transportation, or experience anxiety about going out because of a fear of falling.

Then Ed started showing signs of dementia. Shirley found a care facility in nearby Hartford, but it wasn’t the right fit. “It made him feel not too happy,” Shirley says. “I told him he didn’t have to go again.”

“It’s Like Having Your Own House”

Searching for assisted living while caring for Ed was no easy task, so Shirley enlisted her six children. “I was dreading the move,” Shirley says. “I’d seen some of the other places. My sisters were in nursing homes. I know what they went through.”

The words “nursing home” often strike fear into the hearts of aging Americans. Seniors fear the loss of independence and moving into a nursing home more than they fear death, according to the “Aging in Place in America” study commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation.

So Shirley and Ed’s children searched and searched until they found an assisted living community that checked every box one of their parents’ boxes.

“They couldn’t agree until they found The Ivy at Ellington. This was the one place they all agreed on,” Shirley says. “We liked everything about it, too. It’s like having your own house. We brought the living room and the bedroom furniture. We have a chest with a TV. I have my Polish pottery around. But we don’t have to cook or do dishes.”

“Everybody Makes You Feel Important”

More than fancy furniture and beautiful landscaping, The Ivy at Ellington is the people, Shirley says. “Everybody makes you feel like you’re important.”

Assisted living and memory care staff are well-versed in the nerves people can experience moving to a new place, and they have already established procedures and activities that make the transition easier.

“The key to a program is staff who take the time to engage residents within their own capabilities to make each moment and each day enjoyable and successful,” says Carrie Wilson, Director of Reflections Memory Care at The Ivy at Ellington. “They need to know their job, do their job, care for your loved one as well or better than you would, engage your loved one in meaningful activities, handle the challenging behaviors with a professional, calm demeanor, and communicate with you every step of the way.”

“It Really Makes You Feel Secure”

Shirley says every team member at The Ivy at Ellington helped make their transition to memory care a success:

“I don’t care who it is — it could be someone cooking in the kitchen. Everybody is helpful. You pick up the phone and dial them, they’re right here. I never thought we’d find a place like this. It really makes you feel secure. It’s a great comfort.”

“It’s Also Great for Me”

Not only does Shirley feel safe and comfortable, but she and Ed are having fun again after 64 years of marriage.

Making the move to a senior living community is always a major life change, but when a couple can make that move together, the transition becomes a little easier, says Lindsay Redin, Executive Director of The Ivy at Ellington.

The Ivy at Ellington offers the same options to couples as it does to every other resident. If one spouse needs the extra support that the Reflections Memory Care Community offers, the couple can live in a one- or two-bedroom apartment in the Reflections neighborhood, but they can move freely throughout the community, participating in the traditional activities program, eating with their fellow residents, and going on excursions.

“They keep us busy all the time,” Shirley says. “There’s always something to do. There are events going on all the time. It’s great for my husband, but it’s also great for me. The kids call and say they can’t get ahold of me.”

If you’re looking for a community that can accommodate the different needs of your mom and your dad, schedule a tour of The Ivy at Ellington today.

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