The senior journey moving into a campus of care
by Lilianne Fuller
Regardless of age, many seniors want to live independently. Unfortunately, it’s not something that every senior is able to do. Significant health issues can occur at any age and in some cases one spouse may enjoy good health, while the other does not.
In situations like that, moving onto a campus of care could be a good option in the senior’s journey.
Campus of care
The campus of care model was developed in the early 1990’s. On a campus of care the independent living apartments are supplemented by assisted living and residential care units located on the same campus. If a spouse requires additional care, a couple can continue to enjoy each other’s company and take meals together even though they don’t share a roof.
Jack & Shirley Diamond
Retired pastors Jack and Shirley Diamond have been married 59 years and live at Menno Place in Abbotsford. In 2012 they began to experience failing health. Concerned about their parents’ welfare, their two children encouraged them to move somewhere that would offer more support. At first, the couple were reluctant, but it was a decision they put to prayer. Having been in ministry all their lives, they wanted to remain useful. “I just didn’t think I was ready for that [the move] yet. But we prayed to our faithful Father in Heaven and asked him to lead us to a place where we could be of service to others for His glory.” Their prayers lead them to Primrose Gardens, an independent living building at Menno Place and despite their initial reluctance, they love their home.
Menno Place has a long history in the community. From its beginnings in the early 1950’s as a 26-bed retirement home, it has grown to become one of the major long-term care and housing organizations in the province. Located on 11 acres, there are beautiful pathways and gardens. There’s even a putting green. Family members have repeatedly told Menno’s management how much they appreciate their efforts that bring joy to their loved ones.
Today’s care homes are very different places from those in the past. Busy spots, there are numerous activities for the whole person. Weekly movie nights, birthday parties, ladies’ teas, bingo, dance, and bowling are just a few. “The program planners do an excellent job in planning a well-balanced program for us,” said Jack. One of their favorite pastoral activities is a weekly event. “For us, the Monday morning Share and Prayer Time with Chaplin Ingrid Schultz is the highlight of the week for us,” he added.
Six years ago, Wally Strelau’s wife Erika was diagnosed with early onset dementia when she was 71. The couple knew they would need to be proactive and find a place where they both could live. They knew that Erika’s care needs would increase but their aim was to remain together as long as possible. Wally did a thorough search of assisted living facilities and care homes and decided on Elim Village, a campus of care located in Surrey.
Before retirement, Wally owned a small business that made custom furniture for designers. Having been an employer, Wally has insight on how an employee’s attitude affects how they do their job so he made a point of speaking with the staff. A care aid told him that in her career she had worked at six different places but that Elim was her favourite. She explained that the modern design of the buildings coupled with how management interacted with the staff and residents made Elim Village a great place to work. This was a deciding factor in Wally’s choice.
Wally and Erika moved into an independent suite in the Kootenay in 2014. But a year later, Erika was ready for more care and she moved across the lane to the Harrison, the residential care building. Though not living together, the couple are able to visit, take walks around the spacious grounds, and enjoy having some meals together.
Located on 25 acres, Elim Village is a compact community named for the Oasis described in Exodus 15:27. There are 250 independent living units, an assisted living building called the Emerald, and the Harrison where Erika lives. In addition, four doctors have offices on the premises and there is a full-service pharmacy.
Wally is in good health and appreciates the many activities and amenities located onsite. He enjoys exercising in the gym, playing billiards with friends, and hitting a golf ball on the small putting green. A music lover, he takes advantage of the world class concerts presented at the auditorium. He is also quick to point out the beautiful chapel that is centrally located on the campus. While living apart is not easy, Wally is able to live a full life with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that his dear wife is getting the best of care in a pleasant and secure setting.
Wally describes living at Elim Village this way: “I knew this would be our last stop but what a wonderful place to live out the last phase of your life. This is heaven on earth until we reach the real thing,” he says with a smile.
Moving is a difficult decision for anyone. It is even more so for seniors who often have many memories associated with their home, or in some cases have already gone through the painful process of downsizing and are facing the prospect of doing so again.
Sometimes it is a family decision, with adult children looking to help their aging parents make the best decision. Other times it is a decision brought on by failing health, or even the death of a loved one.
In this article there are only a couple of campuses of care mentioned. There are many others, and there are many other people who have gone through this time of transition.
Finding the right place for you is of such importance it is worth putting some quality effort into it. As you explore options you will find friendly and compassionate people ready to help you navigate through this time of transition in your senior journey.