The Best in Show: Senior Couple Residing in Assisted Living
There is no question that Dr. Douglas Wendt’s peers would agree he picked the ‘top dog’ with his popular pet, Daisy. The same can certainly be said, however, about Douglas’s choice in a home that would offer a supportive environment and meet the potential needs of himself and his wife, Josephine. That place is Tall Oaks Assisted Living in Reston, Va., which for the couple was and continues to be the best in show.
As someone who has served his country and others throughout his life, it was only appropriate that Douglas and his wife and family found a home that could offer that care and peace of mind in return.
Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Douglas was accepted to Northwestern University for a joint medical and dental course. His career plans were put on hold, however, due to World War II. After training new recruits in Texas, he was eventually asked to finish his dental school training which led him to become First Lieutenant in the Army Dental Corps.
“I had the good fortune to be the Command Dental Surgeon of Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and become one of the officers of the brand new U.S. Air Force,” he said.
Six years later, he was transferred to receive graduate training at University of Oregon and became a Maxillofacial Prosthodontist. Douglas proceeded to run his own dental practice for 60 years, part of which was in his home office in Springfield, Va.
Josephine entered his life as a patient, and the two eventually learned they had been through similar experiences. He had five children from his previous marriage and she had four.
“We joined our two families and 35 years have passed in our happy marriage,” he said.
The couple has grown even stronger during that time as Josephine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. It was of the upmost importance to Douglas and their family to find a home that would offer the necessary care in a vibrant environment.
“We looked at different places with Nancy [Powell], Josie’s daughter, and we ended up selecting Tall Oaks thanks to her,” he said.
Douglas knew the community was the perfect middle ground since he was still running his practice and could be surrounded by other active individuals knowing his wife would receive supportive Alzheimer’s care. The spacious apartments along with licensed nurses onsite around-the-clock and all inclusive pricing was just the beginning in terms of what appealed to the couple and their family.
“It was really was the most caring, loving place with a nice environment for them,” said Nancy.
Douglas added, “There are very nice people here that are friendly, cooperative and helpful.”
Of course, he will not be shy to admit that the ability to bring their dog was another major factor. “We take care of Daisy and she takes care of us,” said Douglas. “Everybody knows her and they’ve basically made her the mascot of Tall Oaks.”
Along with offering the flexibility of having pets, the staff has been extremely helpful with the transitions the Wendts’ have made from the apartment they initially shared together.
“They downsized apartments when my mother moved to the Rose Garden Alzheimer’s unit and now he’s right by the front door so that he can easily take Daisy out,” said Nancy. “They’ve been so accommodating here.”
And it is no surprise the individuals of Tall Oaks have taken these extra measures for their residents given their commitment to assisting with various charitable organizations.
This relationship with the surrounding area extends to outside physicians visiting the community. “They have a wellness center here where physicians of various specialties come one day a week or more,” said Douglas.
With a sense of security from the available healthcare and the response systems in their rooms, residents are able to enjoy the numerous activities and amenities of their home.
As Douglas continues his favorite pastime of hunting with his family in Luray, Va. and attends Dental Association meetings, he knows there is an array of opportunities to stay active onsite.
The community’s Wii has certainly been keeping people busy, including Josephine who won an award when she played it as part of the Senior Olympics.
“There is a movie playing every night at our theater and we have different groups that come in who sing and dance,” said Douglas. “There’s a beauty salon, barber shop, fitness center and a good restaurant.”
Though individuals can enjoy delicious meals prepared by a Culinary Institute-trained chef, the community provides transportation to the local grocery store and for other errands. Residents also have the freedom to utilize a nearby swimming pool and take advantage of all that Reston has to offer.
While there are different activities for their separate units, the Wendts spend plenty of time together strolling the grounds of Tall Oaks with Daisy and their nearby family as well as mingling with their peers at dances and socials. In the Rose Garden Activity Center, the staff provides mind-stimulating games while gathering the residents for teas and group singing, which Josephine as a singer and music lover greatly enjoys.
This is only the beginning, however, for the couple and their peers. Tall Oaks recently celebrated its reopening displaying its beautiful up-to-date modifications from remodeled floors to outdoor patios. Also among the community’s latest ventures are its Facebook Page and the Wi-Fi access it offers its residents.
With great care, a friendly environment and the freedom to pursue different interests, Douglas looks forward to his future with Josephine and Daisy at a financially sound community. Although there have been some major changes, those endearing qualities of Tall Oaks that have attracted its residents will always stay the same.
As Nancy said, “There’s just a very homey feeling here. The affordability, the programs they offer and the ability for people to stay here through all stages in life is really important.”
Simply stated, for the Wendts and their family, this place is truly the pick of the litter.