A Caring Environment in Assisted Living Community
“I never had a car and I never learned to drive,” Thelma Aronin says with a smile. Not that she needs it as a resident of over eight years at Morningside House in Ellicott City, Md. The grandmother of five not only has access to several activities and services, including transportation, but she enjoys the community’s convenient location only five minutes from her daughter Bobbie Bjorklund’s home.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., Thelma worked as a salesperson until WWII broke out. It was then she decided to take an examination in order to qualify for work with the federal government and, as a result, she came to Washington, D.C.
She recounts eating lunch one day with several of her coworkers when one mentioned that she “had a wonderful brother.” Eventually her coworker introduced her brother, David Aronin, to Thelma just as he was getting ready to go overseas with the Navy. After the war, the couple married.
Thelma speaks fondly of their first home in Washington, D.C. and the fact that it only cost $8,500. The couple proceeded to raise their two children in the District, but eventually the family moved to Langley Park, Md. when the children were school aged. They lived in their Maryland home for many years until the children were grown and moved out.
As empty nesters, the couple decided it was time for a change. They moved to Leisure World in Silver Spring, Md., where they lived in a two-bedroom apartment for 22 years. Thelma says, “There were all kinds of activities and restaurants; it was a good place to live.”
In 2002, David passed away and their home became difficult for Thelma to maintain. “The apartment was just too much for me,” she says. She decided it was time to find a different option that would better suit her lifestyle and needs.
With the help of her daughter, Bobbie, Thelma narrowed her options and ultimately selected Morningside House. The independent and assisted living community would allow her to be closer to Bobbie, who would often make the near-hour drive to visit her mother at Leisure World. It would also offer Thelma a maintenance-free lifestyle with its housekeeping, linen and laundry services in addition to the sense of security both women felt with the community’s 24-hour emergency call system.
Among the many other amenities residents have the luxury of are spacious floor plans, daytrips, live music and entertainment, computer centers, a full-service beauty/barber salon and a concierge service.
Although the search for housing options can seem daunting, Bobbie advises others helping a parent find a community to “do your research and visit different communities.” She recommends that families bring an “additional set of eyes” to look at the different choices and to come prepared with questions.
And based on her mother’s experiences since making the move, it is very evident to Bobbie that her efforts have certainly paid off. Thelma has enjoyed participating in the vast amount of activities the community offers, most notably the lectures and the meetings. She particularly enjoys the weekly discussions about current events. “If you like to take part in things, this is the place to live,” she says. In addition, she loves going on the weekly shopping trips and the overall convenience of having transportation provided by Morningside House.
Thelma also enjoys the food at Morningside House and is very appreciative of the fact that the staff is able to accommodate her diet under her doctor’s orders. She states, “During the day you can eat as much as you want and ask for more. They are very generous here.”
This support from the staff extends beyond Thelma and her peers since making connections to the outside community is a priority for Morningside House. The community participates along with their seven sister communities in an innovative program titled C.A.R.E, which is designed to provide outreach and support to local causes. Each month, a portion of the community’s profit is donated to assist an organization or individual in need.
“In 2009, Morningside House Assisted Living decided the best way to help the community during these difficult economic times is to give back,” said Kelly Mason, President and CEO of Morningside. “Local families and organizations are vital to the overall economic health of our communities and we are happy to help out in any way we can. That is why we created the C.A.R.E Project. We know how important the community is to our seniors and their families. I hope that our donations will inspire others to do so as well and help a local family in need.”
Within the community, Thelma is currently involved in a physical therapy program after breaking a bone in her hip. Providing individualized care, her therapists are able to visit her right in her apartment and engage her in exercises throughout the community.
This treatment is actually part of a new “comprehensive medical model of care” program at Morningside House. The program is administered by Dr. Salazar, who is a Board-certified geriatrician and the Medical Director at the community’s Ellicott City branch.
The program includes 24-hour on-site nursing; Geriatrician-approved resident care plans; in-house coordinated care and case management services; onsite physical, occupational and speech therapies; and an electronic medication management system. There are also weekly interdisciplinary team meetings and staff training that far exceeds State regulations.
It is these elements that make the comprehensive care model so beneficial. In addition to Thelma, the program has impacted many of the residents’ lives already by reducing their amount of hospitalizations and improving their overall quality of life.
“It’s very convenient,” says Bobbie, who has been very impressed with not only the medical services team, but everything the community as a whole has offered her mother.