Category Archives: Resident stories

Putting the pieces together

Posted on

Herb has solved some big puzzles during his 86 years, assembling the future from disjointed pieces of the present. Within Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens he’s known for his puzzle prowess among other attributes. Shown here with Resident Assistant Janessa Whitaker, Herb has peace of mind these past five years despite the current challenging times.

“After my wife died, it’s been a blessing that I was here,” Herb says. “I talked to a friend at church who lost her spouse at the age of 69 and now she’s completely alone. It’s so important to have somebody. Folks tell me they want to stay in their house. I say, ‘what if something happens someday, and suddenly you need somebody right away and you’re all alone.’” 

Since Herb relocated from Wisconsin to Redwood Falls 46 years ago, his roots have grown deep. He devoted his first five years to managing the JCPenney store, while he and his wife raised their two daughters and a son. He followed that with a 16-year career at Thrivent, then known as Lutheran Brotherhood. He’s still in close touch with the children, their spouses and his seven grand kids.

“They know that I’ve got people here to talk to. For Christmas they bought me an iPad, and that was really nice because we can see each other,” Herb relates. “With the kids, I think we’ve been more in contact because I can see them.”

Herb volunteers that he talks up Garnette Gardens all the time, “People talk about staying at home when they get older,” he reflects. “Living in a community like this is actually easier on the entire family because they know you’re getting what you need. This is a community.”

Herb has sage wisdom for families with aging parents considering a move to assisted living – “Write things down and talk about it in advance, so all the issues are on the table.”

While Herb is still driving, he’s observed the rules that limit outside travel to essential medical needs. His biggest challenge has been not being able to go out to bible study. Still, he feels fortunate to be at Garnette Gardens. “The media hasn’t really told people what assisted living is,” he says.

The Garnette Gardens community offers 61 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value their independence but want options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 16 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Care Suites round out the options, offering enhanced care for people recovering from surgery or illness.

A passion for painting

Posted on

While painting was never Jan’s profession, it’s been her passion since she was a little girl. For about a year, Jan has been painting as a resident of Monarch Meadows in North Mankato, the last four months under coronavirus control conditions.

Jan devoted her career to health care, as a registered nurse and nursing supervisor. In addition to her own profession she married a physician, her high school sweetheart, in Ottumwa, Iowa. His death prompted her two daughters to find Monarch Meadows and move her in. While the transition was hard, Jan says she was impressed with Monarch’s cleanliness.

As Monarch became her home, she returned to painting.

“I’ve always loved art,” Jan reflects. “It began watching my dad sketch. My grandfather was a professional artist. I grew up hearing about his art and seeing his artwork.”

Jan, now 81, inherited her grandfather’s love of oil painting, which is also her favorite medium. She’s pictured here with her latest work, a still-life that was in her imagination before she created it on canvas.

“The pillow started it,” Jan explains about her most recent inspiration. “The fabric fascinated me. My last painting is always my favorite.”

Jan was no less passionate about her life-long career in healthcare, which she says influenced the adult art classes she taught later, educating students about the toxicity of paint. “I tried to encourage people who thought they had nothing to do with art to become personally involved with it.”

In the future, Jan may have another opportunity to pass along her passion. There’s talk of setting up an in-house art gallery where Jan and other Monarch artists can display their work. Please call for a visit to Monarch Meadows, located in North Mankato, MN. It’s one of our largest communities, with 86 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and 12 care suites.

Her safe, healing touch

Posted on

Heather Frieden serves many roles for Vista Prairie at Fieldcrest in Sheldon, Iowa. She’s the lead care coordinator, managing 30 of the staff and also a certified restorative aide. Three months ago, coronavirus precautions forced Fieldcrest to lose access to its beloved contract beauticians and the rest of the outside world. Heather stepped up to fill part of the void — as she’s doing in the photo for Margaret, a nine-year resident.

“I’ve been washing and setting hair every day, and some of them are in tears when I get done,” Heather reports. “They tell me, ‘you don’t know how good this makes me feel.’”

Fieldcrest plans to reopen the salon when it’s safe, according to the Iowa reopening plan. Heather doesn’t use the salon, nor does she cut hair or offer other services that a registered beautician would. She comes by hair care naturally, as her mom was a beautician.

Heather’s volunteer service fits her dedication to healing touch. In her certified restorative aide role, she frequently visits individual apartments to guide exercises, including a resistant bike, and tethered walks up and down the hallways. The restorative program is unique in the area. While it’s not physical therapy, it is more extensive than the routine movement exercise activities offered by many assisted living communities.

“I do a lot of movement with residents on their legs, and arms and hips, to keep them flexible,” Heather explains. “I bond with them.  We’re together for a half hour so we chat and I learn about their life.”

Heather is recertified annually as part of her training. While she’s doing the restorative work, Heather is in a full gown and face shield – part of Fieldcrest’s precaution to protect residents from getting sick. 

“They’ve gotten really close to me and can’t wait for their day to exercise,” Heather reflects. And about the resident assistants she supervises, “Our staff has stuck it out. We’re just in it together.”

Fieldcrest Assisted Living offers 69 one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value a variety of ways to spread joy, and want access to personal care and supportive services. We also hope you’ll visit our 12 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

A kinder sort of wind

Posted on
A kinder wind - June 15 blog

Vonnie and Roger had no choice about finding another place to live 22 years ago, when an F4 tornado left their home in ruins, along with most of Comfrey in southern Minnesota’s Brown County.

Just one-minute after the severe weather siren sounded, 75 percent of Comfrey was severely damaged or destroyed. They were not injured but given their memories of such a mean-spirited wind, it’s fitting that the peaceful surroundings of Windmill Ponds in Alexandria eventually became home, a year ago.

They’ve been married for 73 years, and since they went together in high school, Roger points out, they’ve been a couple for 75 years. They initially set up housekeeping on the family farm with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Those hardships didn’t delay starting a family, which eventually grew to four children.

Kids were always part of Vonnie’s life, not only her own and their offspring, but the kids she helped mold as a 25-year teacher’s aide in the Comfrey public school. “The teachers were so good,” Vonnie remembers. “I still get letters from one of them.”

Their children helped engineer the Windmill Ponds transition, first by moving Vonnie and Roger’s furniture into their new apartment… “and then they told us to come and look at it,” Vonnie says. They also convinced Roger, now 92, to give up his car. “I swallowed my pride and gave up the driving,” he adds. About their Windmill Ponds experience, Roger reports, “All the people are so pleasant, and the food is good.”

Windmills Ponds offers assisted living in 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed for seniors who enjoy an active social environment and expect high quality care.

Faithful

Posted on

Roger and Jeanette recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. They’re happily married after all these years, but they live separately at Goldfinch Estates in Fairmont. Roger has lived in an assisted living apartment since September 2019, while Jeanette has received care in the memory unit since the previous March, following a head injury.

Roger visits her every day, often having the noon meal with her. “The only problem I have is when I leave,” Roger reflects. “She says, ‘I’m going with you,’ and I say, ‘You can’t Mother.’” And then he returns to his apartment through the corridor that separates the two units.

He feels secure at Goldfinch. “I’m getting along fine,” Roger says. “You can’t get out and get around. You gotta stay in, but I understand.” After an initial COVID-19 spike in Fairmont’s Martin County, the number of cases has leveled off.   Goldfinch Estates itself, remains COVID free as of June 1. 

Now 88, Roger worked in agriculture for most of his life, first for Green Giant. More recently he partnered with his father to deliver gasoline to farmers for Standard Oil, in a business that operated in northern Iowa for 50 years. 

About the quality of the care he gets at Goldfinch, “They do a good job,” says Roger. The community offers 92 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who want access to supportive services. We also offer 41 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.