An Inspirational Retirement for One Community Senior
Between bingo games, outings with friends, and her work at the community salon, Evelyn Morganstein still finds time to wrap welcome baskets brimming with goodies for her new neighbors. She does this as part of her service on the Welcoming Committee at North Oaks, a continuing care retirement community located in Northwest Baltimore County. The welcoming committee is one of four committees Evelyn serves on within the community, but it is by far her favorite because it affords her the opportunity to make others feel just as at home and comfortable at North Oaks as she does.
A Baltimore native, Evelyn graduated from Western High during the depression and promptly went to work in her parents’ dry goods store in order to help support her family. As an associate at Hutzler’s, a medical assistant at various doctor’s offices, and the secretary to the branch chief of the Health Care Financing Administration, Evelyn’s work ethic has never waned. Not one to slow down, she even returned to work after spending several years as a stay at home mother to her son and two daughters. Now Evelyn keeps herself busy visiting her three successful children and their growing families; she has seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Morganstein moved to North Oaks from an apartment she had shared with her beloved husband of 52 years. After he passed away, she found that the apartment was difficult to live in because of the many precious and painful memories it contained. She vividly recalls opening the front door to their apartment and not wanting to walk in. Lonely and depressed, Evelyn didn’t know where to turn. After a visit to the community, Mrs. Morganstein began to realize just how isolated she was: “When I was invited as a guest, I knew North Oaks was where I had to be. I would be invited for dinner, stay for the entertainment, and then one of the staff members would take me home after a wonderful evening.”
Although she knew she wanted to move, Evelyn was insecure about her finances. She felt that the move and the costs associated with her new home would be more than she could handle. Evelyn explains, “I was a product of the depression and I will never forget my parents losing everything. I came out and looked at a couple of apartments, but I was always afraid of the cost. However, with the help of my Sales Counselor, Trudy, I was able to understand that moving was within my financial means. My children helped me decide to move and fully supported my final decision. We all had a clear understanding of the value of North Oaks.”
Moving has changed Evelyn’s life more than she could have ever imagined: “When I talk to people who say they aren’t ready, I tell them ‘don’t wait, it’s later than you think.'” The vivacious and active woman who is an integral part of the community is a far cry from the depressed and lonely woman who finally decided that a move to North Oaks was the best choice. “In one month’s time you wouldn’t have recognized me. I became very active, and I joined several committees, which I still serve on. Everything we do at North Oaks is great. I never get bored,” attests Mrs. Morganstein. Little did she know when she made the decision to move that the staff at North Oaks would offer her more than just a new lease on life; they would in fact save her life.
After a horrible head-on car collision last February, Mrs. Morganstein suffered injuries to her right ear and ribcage. Determined to fully recover, Evelyn had already returned home and resumed her normal busy schedule when she suffered an attack due to her injuries one morning. She was unable to catch her breath and had already begun to turn purple when she pulled the emergency cord alert beside her bed. A nurse from the Health Center arrived within moments, stabilized Mrs. Morganstein, and waited with her for the ambulance. When Evelyn got to the hospital, her family had already been notified and was waiting there for her.
Although this event was difficult and stressful for her and her family, the outcome has provided them with even more peace of mind, as Evelyn relates: “I’m actually happier now. My children never worry about me because they know that my mind is at ease. If I’m not well, I can pull the string, although I hope I never have to again. The staff at North Oaks saved my life, and I will never forget that. I am so grateful to the Health Center. I’m a very lucky woman and that’s why every day I feel so happy. North Oaks has given me the gift of life, not to mention fun and friendship.”
Just a few months later, Mrs. Morganstein was once again impressed by the emergency medical services offered at North Oaks. Her son-in-law, Gordon, fell in love with the residents and decided to volunteer at the community. While volunteering in the spa, he went into cardiac arrest. Evelyn recounts, “When the maintenance man found Gordon on the floor he immediately called for help. The doctors and nurses were close by and were there in a matter of moments. They did CPR and brought his heart around. Gordon was touch and go for one month, but he’s well now. He’s on the North Oaks list for saving another life.” These two incredible, life-altering experiences, coupled with the wonderful community atmosphere, leads Mrs. Morganstein to one conclusion: “I love North Oaks. I love everything about it.”
While the Health Center offers superior service, the network of support at North Oaks extends far beyond emergency medical assistance. When Evelyn returned from the hospital she found that it was easier to leave her door open because someone was always stopping by to ask if they could do anything to help her: “It was beautiful. The warmth and the friendship here is so gratifying – everyone cares for everyone.”
Fully recovered and actively involved in the community, Mrs. Morganstein has no plans to slow down: “There’s no question about me keeping going. I enjoy every day and do all I can every day. I love to play bingo with friends and have dinner with different people every night. I’m very independent, so as long as I can push and shove, I’m going to push and shove. After all, you can’t keep a good woman down!”