Deborah Ziegler comes into Via Christi Village on Broadmoor in Wichita with her grandson on her hip, a Dalmatian puppy on a leash and her smiling granddaughter in tow.
“Hi Mom,” she says to Maxine Poole.
Maxine smiles at Deborah when she sees her daughter and her face lights up when her eyes rest on 10-year-old Kelsey, her great-granddaughter, and Shane, her 9-month-old great-grandson.
Deborah says her family couldn’t be happier with the care they have found for Maxine at Via Christi Village on Broadmoor. Deborah and her husband previously had determined that, if the time ever arose when her mother needed extra help, Maxine would go into a senior community best suited to care for her.
“It’s been a welcome relief that there’s been somebody that’s close by,” Deborah says. “It’s convenient for us to get there every few days and visit with her and check in on her. Any little change in her behavior and they’re going to notify me or her doctor, or both.”
Deborah knows first-hand the challenges of caring for an elderly parent. For 12 years, she had watched Maxine provide care at home for her own mother, Deborah’s grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s. Deborah witnessed the stress her mother was under providing round-the-clock care and believes the strain it put on the family contributed to her father’s early death.
Deborah found herself confronting a similar challenge after Maxine, who had shown signs of dementia, suffered a stroke and went to Ascension Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital as part of her recovery.
For eight months after her mother went home from the rehabilitation hospital, Deborah, her uncle and a family friend who is a certified nurse’s aide took shifts day and night to provide Maxine the support she needed to stay in the comfort of her home. But, during a rare 15- to 20-minute gap between caregivers, Maxine walked outdoors, fell and broke her back.
“She went through rehab again and, at that point, we decided that it was time for us to look for someplace that could watch her 24/7,” Deborah explains. “We just couldn’t keep up the pace.”
Her mother’s new living arrangement at Via Christi Village, which is only five miles from Deborah’s home, not only provides Maxine with terrific care, it also has improved Deborah’s quality of life. Now, she has the time to enjoy both her mother — and her grandchildren.
Deborah helps out her adult children by regularly looking after her grandchildren, often bringing them for visits to see their great-grandmother.
“All the things I missed out on when my kids were growing up and I was working, I get to do now. It’s been good. It really has," Deborah says.
Today, visits from her great-grandchildren are a joy for Maxine. Kelsey reminisces about her favorite game of “chef” with her great-grandmother. Maxine would playfully order up a plate full of spaghetti and potato chips, and Kelsey would carefully shape the beautiful Play-Doh “meal” for her.
“Grandma always said, ‘They are delicious,’ ” laughs Kelsey.
Kelsey also remembers enjoying her great-grandmother’s homemade banana bread right as it came out of the oven and going to the park where Maxine would push her on the swings.
Deborah is grateful for the care her mother receives at Via Christi Village and has some heartfelt advice for anyone considering caring for a loved one at home.
“I know there are a lot of people like me and a lot of them try to take care of their parents at home to economize. But, you just can’t give them the care that they need — that’s my main concern,” she says. “You just don’t have the time, the inclination … you don’t have the skills.”
As for Via Christi Village on Broadmoor, Deborah says, “I’m just grateful that there are places like this that exist and that people who work here take good care of you. It’s nice to know that there are still places around that you can rely on to take care of the elderly.”