When Lynette Hegwood lost her husband last year to cancer, she decided it was time to consider alternatives to assist her with the challenges of living alone. And she could think of no better place than where her mother, Flora “Flo” Mullins, has lived for more than a decade—St. Catherine’s Village. Now, daughter and mother live just one floor apart at the all-inclusive life care community.
“I was familiar with St. Catherine’s Village’s respected reputation,” Hegwood said. “In 2004, when my husband’s mom was living with Parkinson’s disease, we accompanied her when she looked at several senior living communities. We kept coming back to St. Catherine’s Village because it offered multiple levels of care—independent living in apartments and garden homes, assisted living in Marian Hall, memory care in Campbell Cove and skilled nursing in Siena Center.”
“My mother-in-law did not immediately warm up to the idea of moving, but she made the decision on her own,” Hegwood said. At this same time, Hegwood’s own mother became ready to leave the hassles and maintenance of her old home behind.
“They were both living alone in their own houses, and my husband and I were going back and forth to help them take care of yards and chores. It kept us busy,” Hegwood explained. With the promise of a family Alaskan cruise after their moves as an incentive, Hegwood’s mother and mother-in-law packed their belongings, and the two women moved into St. Catherine’s Village between May and July, 2004.
“Over the next 14 years, I got to know so many residents and employees at St. Catherine’s Village. They all hold your hand whenever you need them. They became—and continue to be—our extended family,” she said.
It was only natural, then, when Lynette felt it was her time to consider benefits offered to residents at St. Catherine’s Village, she chose the life care community, too…even though her son and his family offered to move both Hegwood and Mullins near them in Pennsylvania.
When deciding which apartment to choose, Hegwood thought, “I want to be close to mom,” adding that “it would be nice if she could bring me some chicken noodle soup every once in a while.”
Hegwood’s one-bedroom apartment is in the same building as her mother’s. However, Mullins recently had hip surgery and is recovering in another level of care until she is able to return to her apartment in independent living. “We have a bit of a role reversal now,” said Mullins. “But we are thankful to have each other.”
“Planned activities are good, but we like to do our own thing, too,” said Hegwood. Mullins agreed. “I worked as an activity director in a nursing home before…and I’ve had enough Bingo.” Now, Mullins crochets clothes for American Girl dolls and leads the singing at Sunday morning church service. She plays the dulcimer—an Appalachian mountain string instrument. She also has a green thumb and is pretty handy.
“I am a Type 1 diabetic and contend with low glucose,” said Hegwood said. “In the wee hours one morning, I called security and they—along with nursing—arrived to assist me. They were top notch, even better than 911. It’s reassuring to have a registered nurse and security available 24 hours each day.”
Hegwood also had committed to having a service dog for her diabetes prior to coming to St. Catherine’s Village. Management worked with Hegwood to ensure her service animal was welcome and accommodated. The one-year-old black lab, Prophet, was delivered in November.
“The hole in my heart that arose after my husband passed away has been filled by the people at St. Catherine’s Village,” said Lynette.
“You never have to be alone if you don’t want to be.”