Friends on the Move in Assisted Living

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Moving day conjures images of scattered furniture and a sea of cardboard boxes. Disarray and chaos seem to run rampant. But moving day may have an unnecessarily bad rap. It can also mean new neighbors and new friendships, or even long-awaited reunions with old friends. For Frances Groves and Genevieve Voorhes, moving day was the first day of a friendship that is now over 50 years old.

Frances Groves is a long-time Bethesda resident. Shortly after graduating from William & Mary, she was married and moved to the area. For years, she was a stay at home mom to their three children. After her children grew up, she decided to join the workforce for the first time.

For the next three years, she worked as a secretary at the Association for the Blind. Later, Mrs. Groves took a position as an Executive Secretary for Marriott Corporation; she stayed with the company for 10 years. “I was in the expansion program. They were building new places all over the country and in Europe. It was exciting,” she recalls.

senior woman friends assisted living mdIn 1960, Mrs. Groves remarried. She had known her second husband, Hugh, for years. “My first husband and I rented a little apartment from him. Hugh and his wife were our landlords. The four of us were very social,” says Mrs. Groves. Years later, Frances and Hugh found support in each other after the deaths of their spouses, and their relationship quickly blossomed. Dedicated Redskins fans, the couple had season tickets to football games for many years.

The Groves settled into a cozy neighborhood in Bethesda, and Mrs. Groves became involved in the neighborhood club. She describes the informal organization as a “great group of young mothers who all lived nearby.” The women went out to dinner together, hosted children’s birthday parties, and babysat for one another. With their husbands, the ladies enjoyed barbeques, card games, and all sorts of community events.

Genevieve Voorhes and her husband arrived in this close-knit neighborhood on moving day. The couple quickly settled into the community. Mrs. Voorhes states simply, “Everyone was just a really good neighbor.” The Voorhes raised their only daughter in the neighborhood.

Nearly a year ago, Mrs. Groves began to consider moving from their neighborhood to an assisted living community. She wanted a little extra help with the activities of daily living, and she admits, “I didn’t enjoy cooking for myself.”

After looking at several local communities, Mrs. Groves chose Springhouse at Westwood, an HCR ManorCare Assisted Living community in Bethesda. She explains, “This community was in a familiar environment, and when I came to visit, it was really nice, so I knew it was the best place for me.”

Life at Westwood has meant “more confidence” and “less work” for Mrs. Groves. It is so relieving, she says, to know that “someone is here if I ever need them.” The comfort of a strong support network is something that the staff at Westwood works very hard to provide.

Just last year, Springhouse at Westwood celebrated its 40th anniversary. Many of the community’s staff members have been working in the building for 38, 39, or even 40 of those years. Such impressive longevity among staff members is largely due to the sense of family that is cultivated at the community.

With 40 years of service, Cloverinia Drew, CNA, has been with the community since it opened. “This really is just like a home, and it has been from the beginning,” she states. Annie Brown agrees. After 39 years of service as a CNA, she describes Westwood as “a loving environment.” She notes that she and the other staff members have close relationships with “all the residents and their families.” Margaret Barnes, CNA, joined the Westwood staff 32 years ago, due in large part to the encouragement of Mrs. Drew. She has never looked back. “This is just like one big family,” states Mrs. Barnes.

These long-standing and dedicated caregivers have been essential to creating and maintaining a familial atmosphere. Kathy Rickard, the Marketing Director at Westwood, notes, “Not only are all of these women wonderful, seasoned caregivers, but they are also passing on their wonderful, caring ways to a new generation of staff members.”

Realizing the benefits of such attentive care, Mrs. Groves began to recommend Westwood to her friends. Mrs. Voorhes heard all about how much her friend loved her new home. Mrs. Groves admits, “I was the driving force behind Gen’s move. She knew how much I really liked it here, and she began to think about moving.” Mrs. Voorhes never even considered other communities. “I just took her recommendation,” she says. When her daughter left to travel abroad, Mrs. Voorhes decided to move to Westwood for a temporary stay. She never left. She recalls, “It was supposed to be a short stay, but it never ended. After I moved here, I knew I wanted to stay.”

Today, Mrs. Voorhes enjoys having “no worries.” “I don’t have to think about who is going to cut my lawn or anything,” she explains. She enjoys playing bingo and poker with her fellow residents, participates in exercise classes every morning, and finds the morning coffee and conversations sessions enlightening.

Being close to her old friend is also a plus. Mrs. Voorhes and Mrs. Groves have meals together, reminisce about the past, and can often be found cheering on their favorite team: the Redskins. Mrs. Voorhes laughs as she says, “I told Groves yesterday that we have to get ready for the first Skins game in just a few months!”

As Mrs. Voorhes and Mrs. Groves laugh together, moving day’s image makeover is complete. For these two women, moving day brought them together, and years later, brought them a renewed sense of friendship. Now settled into their new home, Mrs. Voorhes and Mrs. Groves know they will always be among friends.

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