LIVINGSTON, NJ - It can often be hard to find the right facility for a loved one when they require care in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. It can be equally daunting for the potential resident to decide to move from their home and choose a community. There are questions and anxieties from both angles and sitting down with a professional can often be the answer, as it was in the case of Livingston resident Marie, when she recently helped her sister Joan make the move to CareOne of Livingston. In honor of National Assisted Living Week, which runs from Sept. 7 to 14, their story is recounted below.

Marie, older by two years, was distraught for her sister, who had retired from a career as a social worker and later as a Librarian in Springfield.  Joan was no longer going on daytrips to the movies, theater or even shopping. In addition, Joan had stopped having Marie over to the house and had begun greating her outside when they had plans.

Marie said that she was worried because another relative that lived alone had fallen and lay on the ground with a broken leg for many hours until help arrived. Had Marie not reached out to a neighbor when she could not reach her loved one by phone, Marie said there was no telling how long it would have taken for someone to help her. Marie said she was worried this might happen to Joan.

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Marie was afraid Joan had become a hoarder. In addition, Marie felt the home was unsafe with piles of belongings and papers being stored on top of a working stove that needed to be lit by a match each time. The fire department in Joan’s home town was not able to intervene because there was no imminent threat to her safety and there had not been a fire, yet. Marie reached out to Adult Protective Services but Joan refused to answer the door when the representative visited. Again, nothing could be done unless there was an imminent threat to Joan’s safety. 

When it became apparent to Marie that Joan needed help, Marie began researching local nursing homes and later assisted living facilities when it was apparent Joan would benefit from that type of care. Marie went to tour and gather information alone because Joan would not attend. Marie even tried “stopping -by” a few places while they were out running errands but Joan refused to even get out of the car.

The one that Marie preferred, CareOne of Livingston, was located close to her home in Livingston and she had spoken many times to Darren Seise, regional director.

“After numerous calls with Marie and failed attempts to bring Joan for a tour, I asked Marie if I could call Joan and invite her to visit,” said Seise. “Marie gave me her number. When I called Joan, she informed me she was not feeling well and could not come to visit, so I offered to bring her a turkey dinner from our kitchen. She was surprised at my offer and accepted. Our chef prepared and packed a full turkey dinner and I delivered it on a cold winter evening. Joan answered the door but did not invite me in. I could see piles over her shoulder as we stood on her front porch.”

Seise then said, “I am so sorry the turkey has gotten cold, you should come to CareOne of Livingston soon and let me serve you a hot meal.”

Although she had always refused to accept Marie's offers to take her to see an assisted living community, Joan accepted Seise’s invitation to come for lunch in person the following Friday.

“Our team is always willing to help and sometimes that means doing the unexpected,” said Executive Director Michael Daichman.

“At CareOne, we have a culture of excellence,” said Executive Vice President Lizzy Straus. “That means empowering our team members to go above and beyond in order to do the right thing.”  

Early on Friday morning, Seise received a panicked call from Marie saying Joan's furnace had broken and it would not be an easy repair due to the condition of the house. She asked if Joan could move in the same day.  The CareOne staff reached out to another family that had purchased new furniture for their aunt earlier that week, only to have their aunt pass away unexpectedly the day before she was to move in. When told of Joan’s situation and asked if they were interested in selling the furniture to her, the family offered to donate the furniture and said it was glad it would be put to good use.

Luckily, Joan had already packed a suitcase preparing to go and stay at Marie’s. Marie was concerned about having Joan move in with her and hoped she would agree to give CareOne of Livingston a try.

“We had lunch and explained to Joan that we could offer her a furnished room until her home repairs were completed,” said Seise. “Right after lunch, the staff took time helping Joan unpack and get adjusted to her new home in our special program for residents with memory Impairment, called Harmony Village. It is rewarding to be part of a team that always looks to exceed expectations.”

“Luckily, Marie's doctor, Dr. Redling, Chief of Geriatric Medicine at St. Barnabas worked with us to get the necessary medical instructions and prescriptions within an hour,” added Seise.

While residents normally furnish their own apartments, Joan didn’t have time to make the arrangements. However, the donated furniture fit Joan’s apartment and Marie brought the decorative over the next couple of days.

“It was meant to be,” said Marie.

Joan quickly adjusted to her new environment and decided to stay on a long-term basis.

Marie said she is relieved to know that Joan is in a safe environment, is thrilled to see her thriving socially and loves that the location is so convenient for frequent visits.

Joan said that she likes the food and hopes to join the walking club. She also enjoys the courtyards, library and common area living rooms. She said that she especially likes to sit and chat with new friends all over the building and has enjoyed meeting new people.

TAP into Livingston thanks CareOne of Livingston for their continuing support to help us deliver important news to the residents of Livingston on a daily basis. Because of sponsors like CareOne of Livingston, TAP into Livingston is completely free to subscribers.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TAP into Livingston, contact Jackie Schatell at (201) 618-7444 or via email at jschatell@tapinto.net.