It’s All About Family…Theirs and Ours: Healthcare for Seniors

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elders assisted at homeAs the owner of The Churchtown Inn, a bed and breakfast in Lancaster, Chris Farr enjoys making people feel at home. Therefore, it was only natural when looking for a future residence for her mother, Marie Miller, she and her sisters wanted the same type of comfortable atmosphere. After a little research, that is exactly what they found in Stapeley In Germantown, a Quaker-sponsored Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For a woman who has cared for others and worked hard over the years, a home that not only offers a familial and relaxed environment, but also the security of available levels of healthcare is well deserved.

Marie was among the rare mothers working in the 1950s. While the mother of seven dabbled in various fields, her last job was managing a department that edited commercials.

Due to a history of Alzheimer’s in her family, Marie began preparing herself over the years for the possibility of being diagnosed with the disease. Thus, she asked her children to take care of her.

In October 2008, Marie’s children brought her back to the area from Florida and moved her into Bridges, Stapeley’s ‘secured’ community located within its historic building. Here, Marie’s family knew a specially trained and qualified staff would be able to provide a higher level of care for her needs.

“We had been looking for a comfortable place with good food and company that felt familiar to her,” said Chris. “This was a new program whose mission was similar to what we wanted for our mother.”

It had the exact appearance of what they wanted for Marie as it looks like a mansion and features antique furniture.

Stapeley also offers residential living in 43 apartments that provide an enriching lifestyle with as much mingling or as much privacy as desired. Ranging in size from studios to two bedrooms with a den, every apartment has a balcony that overlooks the south gardens. Stapeley West is connected by an actual glass-enclosed bridge overlooking a hardwood forest and walking paths.

Along with its ‘bed and breakfast’ appeal, Chris knew that this Quaker community would provide a very caring environment. Beginning in 1904 as a Quaker boarding house, Stapeley has blossomed as a Personal Care Community that ensures quality of life and promotes independence with support.

And Marie’s daughters would agree their mother has a newfound sense of independence. “My mother is able to go to the fridge and find something to eat on her own,” said Kim, another daughter of Marie’s. “At the place in Florida, you had to find someone to get the kitchen key and unlock it to get a glass of milk.”

Elsewhere in the Personal Care Community, residents and families may enjoy a spacious parlor for socializing as well as a sizeable library where individuals or groups frequently gather to enjoy local newspapers and large print books. Residents may also enjoy the outside gardens and safe areas as well as the community’s convenient location nine miles from the arts and music of Philadelphia. An activities program with trips and entertainment provides additional opportunities for meeting with other residents.

While there are various opportunities to stay active, the community also creates a welcoming environment where Chris, Kim and other residents’ families visit and partake in fun group activities.

In fact, Chris has held about four or five cooking sessions with the residents. Individuals at the community have enjoyed whisking, pouring and taking care of the necessary tasks for preparing delicious cookies. Chris said it has been amazing watching the ladies utilize their backgrounds and work together to accomplish such activities with a smile on their faces.

“It is such a heartwarming feeling,” she said. “I’m in love with this whole idea that I can be with my mother so much.”

Aside from cooking classes, Chris’s sister and her boyfriend have performed dance numbers to entertain the group.

“Every community needs more involvement like this,” said Chris. “The people here enjoy the attention we give them, and the people at the Bridges program love the fact that we do this here.”

The numerous activities have helped keep Marie’s mind stimulated as she enjoys doing puzzles and word searches and has even helped bring out everyone’s inner musician through song. “My mother got all the others singing and by the end, everyone was clapping and their feet were tapping,” said Chris.

While this outside involvement is certainly welcomed, families are also given the opportunity to gather for various support groups facilitated by the staff.

By embracing the Quaker principles of honesty, integrity and the worth of every human being, Stapeley extends its mission to the community at large by being actively involved in the neighborhood. They are engaged with the local police department, assisting with the holiday parties they host for children as well as accompanying them as they deliver gifts on Christmas Day to needy children in the area. Other organizations in which Stapeley is a member are the Mt. Airy Business Association, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, S.A.F.E. (The Strategic Alliance for the Elderly) and the Alzheimer’s Association. They are also involved in a pilot program with The West Oak Lane N.O.R.C. (naturally occurring retirement community) where they help keep an individual in his/her home as long as possible by assisting in small home repairs for a nominal fee.

While the community outreach says it all, the difference Stapeley has made within its walls is evident to Chris as she walks the hallways holding hands with Marie and her fellow residents.

Though Chris and her sisters cannot be with their mother 24 hours a day, they rest assured knowing the staff with whom they have become close are always available to provide personalized care, and if Marie were to need nursing care, the community’s HealthCare Center is a 120-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center that also offers short term rehabilitation to individuals still living in their own homes. The Rehabilitation Department offers Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies. Board-certified Physicians, who specialize in geriatric care, along with clinicians provide a range of healthcare services. A myriad of activities and programs are part of daily living to promote physical, mental and social well-being.

“They have extraordinarily goodhearted people who are wonderful,” said Chris. “We have a good relationship with them, they’re our family.”

And with her families constantly surrounding her, there really is no place like home for Marie.

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