Nursing Homes: Staying Surrounded with Friends and Support

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nursing home resident“I loved my house, I had plans for it,” said Jeanne Graef, who lived in her Alexandria community of 52 years.

When an illness struck her family, however, Jeanne knew she had to research local options, and today she is happy to have found a new home at The Fountains at Washington House.

During WWII, Jeanne moved to the city to work at the Weather Bureau at the National Airport. Married in 1948, she and her husband had three children and five grandchildren.

He was ultimately diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The doctor told us to get in some place where they would be able to help us,” said Jeanne.

After visiting five places, she and her daughter decided on The Fountains at Washington House the moment they entered the residence.

“My daughter asked me, ‘Mom, do you realize that when we walked in, every single person that worked there smiled at us and said hello?'” said Jeanne.

While the friendliness of staff and residents was a major influence for her, Jeanne was also glad that she and her husband would be near their daughter. When an opening became available, the couple attended an interview with the staff so that they could assess the level of care he would need.

Despite her husband’s passing in May, Jeanne will continue the three years she has spent in her new home.

“People ask me if I’m going to stay,” she said, “And I say yes, I’m going to stay!”

Although they initially sought the residence so that he could receive the care he needed, Jeanne said she is comfortable there and has made several friends, especially with the people on her floor. Every evening, she eats dinner with the same group and has found built-in support with her friends who have also lost their loved ones. She is a member of the book club residents’ council and often tries to make it downstairs to the cinema where people can enjoy popcorn and candy.

With several surrounding communities, Jeanne has been able to make friends outside of her home with whom she meets for errands or lunch. She is also grateful that her family is close by.

“They’re all in the Alexandria area which is unusual and lucky for me,” she said.

Having owned a retail business for 30 years in the area, Jeanne also keeps in contact with her former employees.

“I love retail,” she said, “I’m always asking the young people who were employed by me what they’re buying in New York or what they’re selling now.”

Although she misses her home and former neighbors, Jeanne, like many individuals, knew she had to make an important decision in finding a new home. Her move has in no way stopped her from finding close friends and keeping up with the activities she has always enjoyed.

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