Ruth Halverson

Senior Housing: What to Look for… From Someone Who Has Been There

An Open Letter to People Like Me in the Second Half of Life…

open-roadAt 90+ years of age, Ruth Halverson has some advice she wants to pass on to her peers.

“First, I want to pass on the best advice I ever had to those still living in their own homes. ‘Move while you are still able to decide where you want to go, what to keep and what to dispose of and to whom.’ I did and have never been sorry for those choices.

“Those moving to a senior residence don’t believe that assisted living is something they will ever need. It can happen suddenly and to anyone, and can change your life forever. I suspect families are more likely to be interested that this ‘security’ is available for their loved ones.

“After living independently at Parkshore (a SilverCrest Property in St. Louis Park, MN) for 13 enjoyable years, and Parkwood (the adjacent assisted living community) for 2 years, I’ve found my ideas on what is important to look for in senior housing have changed. I’ve found that Parkshore offers those important benefits, things I didn’t really want to think about.

“Besides all that Parkshore [independent living] offers, I think the fact that Parkwood [assisted living] is attached should be emphasized. People may not want to think they’ll ever need to use it. However, should it become necessary to have the additional care that Parkwood offers, they would find it is important that it is attached. (That way) they wouldn’t have to move away, leaving all the friends they have made behind. [In the assisted living] you would find the same staff, many of the same familiar employees.

“Since I’ve now lived in both, I’d like to tell you what you’ll find at Parkwood. Many say that Parkwood represents a LOSS of independence. Are you independent, for instance, if you’ve had a serious fall (a seniors’ greatest peril) and cannot walk alone, cannot take a shower alone, or handle caring for your apartment? Parkwood offers what you can no longer do for yourself, unless you are fortunate enough to have family nearby who will care for you. Actually, at Parkwood, you GAIN independence because it is geared to help you with whatever you are unable to do.

“When you come to Parkwood, you are assigned a Lifesprk Life Care Manager who is also a registered nurse. She has all your records, learns about you, and your family. She will check your vital signs regularly. She will make doctor appointments, and if needed take you, or provide for transportation. It will also give assurance to your family, who may not live nearby. You will also be given a pendant to be worn on your wrist or around your neck, with which to call for help if you’ve fallen or are sick. You have no idea what a sense of security that will give you until you experience it.

“For me, I revel in the opportunity to have 3 meals a day. No more shopping for food, preparing meals, or doing dishes. Two meals are included in your rent and the third your choice. When I fixed my own breakfast, never did I have much variety. At Parkwood, you have (many) breakfast choices: cereal, hot or cold; fruit juices (I like cranberry mixed with peach), and they always remember our likes. Eggs in any form you wish, sausage and bacon; waffles, pancakes and French toast. Always fruit on your plate. None has to be reserved or ordered in advance. Decide what you feel like when you come down for all meals. Better than a restaurant? Almost forgot. If you don’t show up for meals at your usual time, you’ll be checked on. That’s security.

“You will find a ‘feeling of family’ here that can’t really exist in independent living. Partly, I believe, it is because we are smaller, 4 floors vs. 13 floors. Also because we eat together 2 or 3 times a day. We seem to know each other better.

“I find assisted living is a great deal, and I’m so grateful every day I’m here, and yet near my friends on the Parkshore side.”

For more information on Lifesprk, or Lifesprk services at the Parkshore/Parkwood or other campuses, please call Lifesprk Navigation at 952-345-8770 or email us.