I never thought I’d need assistance. (What the heck, I’m only 82.) But my adult children did notice. They noticed a subtle decline in my alertness, and my memory. Issues with my balance caused me to have a serious fall, face-first into the pavement on my street. That little episode earned me a trip by ambulance to the ER at a nearby hospital.
As I said, I’m 82 years of age, but in physical appearance, I could pass for 65. Also, I still work part-time, as a writer. (Much of the written material for Seashore Gardens Living Center is done by me.) I’m mentally agile. I shop for my food and am capable of preparing my own meals. But that fall, and the trauma resulting from it, caused me to take the advice of my kids. I needed a degree of assistance. They called Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC) and asked about options that existed for me.
I was contacted by Bill Resnick who coordinated home care. Bill explained that his motto is, ‘It’s good to be home,’ and his mission is to assist clients with their desire to stay at home by providing them with professional caregivers, education and counseling. Bill offered a program that was affordable, and sensible, and we agreed to ‘do a deal.’
Next off, I was visited by a Seashore Gardens Living Center staff registered nurse who evaluated me. Based on that evaluation, Bill suggested that I have a certified home health aide visit me two days a week for a period of four hours each visit. I was a bit ambivalent about this as I had had a home health aide after a serious bout with shingles and he really didn’t fit the bill. I cancelled that particular service after a short period.
SGLC sent a very pleasant young woman, Catrina Dejean, whose parents were originally from Haiti. Catrina had earned a degree in biology from Rowan University and, like me, she enjoyed meeting and conversing with people. She was very professional, very punctual, yet personable. We immediately hit it off!
In the initial visit, Catrina surveyed my house and asked me where I would need her assistance. She offered to, on arrival, straighten out my bed and clean any dishes and eating utensils that had been left in the kitchen sink. I told her that I had a cleaning woman go over the house on a scheduled basis and that I enjoyed preparing my own meals. I would, however, need her to transport me on errands and visits to the nearby supermarket.
I noticed that, during our visits to the supermarket, Catrina could quickly spot an item that I couldn’t find on the shelves. She helped carry the bags from the car into the house. She also made sure that I was using my cane during our chore-related outings.
Over the weeks, as we got to know each other, I asked Catrina if she had been to Haiti and, if not, was she planning a trip there to link up with family. I suggested that a thorough familiarity with her Haitian culture would enrich her life. She agreed, and we researched that together, solidifying a growing relationship that benefitted us both.
At one point, I suggested to Catrina that she would make an excellent nurse. I’m happy to say that she has started back to college in her journey to pursue several degrees in Nursing.
When the December holidays arrived, Catrina helped me bring up my Christmas items from my garage. This was a beloved family tradition, and Catrina was part of it as she helped me assemble and decorate my Christmas tree. At the New Year, she helped me take off and store my ornaments, disassemble the tree and return it to its storage location.
It’s been several months, and Catrina’s twice-weekly visits are a blessing. I see them continuing for the foreseeable future.
As I had mentioned earlier, I am still enjoying working, on a limited basis in my public relations profession. My very favorite client is Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC), in Galloway. Along with my business partner, Felicia Niven, we make frequent trips to SGLC and create events in which we interact with residents. On a recent visit, we had a group of women recalling and singing some of the songs from their (and my) younger years. We were having so much fun, none of us wanted it to end.
I have gotten to know many of the residents through activities and interviews that Felicia and I have conducted over a lengthy period, and this has led to friendships and a genuine concern for their continued contentment at Seashore Gardens Living Center, located in South Jersey’s storied Pinelands.
Walt Murphy is a publicist, writer and former journalist who resides in South Jersey.