Best Friends in a Retirement Community

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happy grandmothers in assistance living facilityAmong the greatest gifts people can offer is friendship. It provides social support for all ages and is especially significant for the older population, as is evident in the story of Fedora Chiodo and Jocelyne Moriconi. These Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue residents have been inseparable since the day they met and could not be happier having not only the support of one another, but their nearby children and the Sunrise staff.

“My mother is so much happier with her new best friend. It’s made all the difference,” said Juliette Lloyd, Fedora’s daughter.

According to Juliette, Fedora was a “War bride” and was living in Florence, Italy when she met her future husband. After the war, with the eventual blessing from Fedora’s father, they wed and had two children before moving to the U.S.

Continuing to visit relatives in Italy each summer, their family resided in Johnston, Pa. After selling the family home, Fedora and her husband moved to the Florida apartment where they had spent winters. Juliette, however, saw that maintaining their lifestyle was becoming difficult and hired in-home help for them. When her father passed away, Juliette and her mother agreed it would be best to move Fedora closer to her in Washington, D.C.

After a tremendous amount of research on senior living communities, Juliette felt that Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue, which offers assisted living and Alzheimer’s care, was the best. Instead of moving in permanently, Fedora did a respite stay for two years, spending summers at Sunrise and the remainder of the year in Florida.

“That gave her a chance to adjust so she didn’t have such a stark change,” said Juliette. “When we finally decided to make her full-time move up here, it was a lot easier. She knew the staff and felt comfortable.”

Fabrizio Moriconi, Jocelyne’s son, grew up in Tenleytown after his parents came to the U.S. in the 60s to pursue a dream of starting a wine business. While helping with their business, Jocelyne worked at the Belgian Embassy and enjoyed taking long trips to see her sister in her native country Belgium as well as her daughter who had moved to Italy.

When Fabrizio returned home after graduating, he noticed some changes in his mother who was soon diagnosed with dementia. He continued to live in their basement to care for her, but it was becoming harder and as a newlywed, he knew he eventually needed to move out. “We were never trained to take care of a person with this illness,” he said. “She wasn’t going out anymore; she was just watching TV all day.”

The doctor’s recommendation for an assisted living community was a challenging concept for Fabrizio. “It’s unheard of; in Italy, people take care of their parents at home,” he said. Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue, however, offered a perfect location right down the street from where she had lived many years. The family scheduled a lunch appointment, which is when Jocelyne met Fedora. Afterwards, she was filled with excitement after not only finding a friend but a future home she felt was very elegant.

Now the best friends are enjoying one another’s company in the active environment Sunrise provides. The staff at the community works with the families and residents to incorporate their backgrounds and passions into the daily activities. Fabrizio said, “A lot of times my mom’s not here and I have to look at the schedule because she’s on a boat to Baltimore, or a scenic trip to Rock Creek Park or the Art Gallery.”

Most importantly, Fabrizio and Juliette have peace of mind knowing their mothers have one another and an incredible support network. “It’s an enormous relief,” said Fabrizio. “It’s been a wonderful experience – the people here are great with my mother. You can tell when something is genuine.”

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