Life-changing move keeps longtime couple together

Aug. 22, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Grand Living.

After almost 69 years of marriage, Clarence and Gloria Schley are used to being together most of the time.

Keeping them that way, though, proved a challenge for their children – especially because Gloria is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Mom was in what I would call a pretty typical nursing home setting, and Dad was in an apartment in an attached building,” their daughter Joey Giblin said.

“They didn’t have memory care support, and it was very difficult to watch knowing Mom wasn’t getting the care she deserved and Dad was still feeling like he needed to manage her full time.”

The nursing home then told the family it could no longer care for Gloria.

“This precious, sweet person had become too violent to care for,” Giblin said. “The nursing home ultimately did a huge favor in kicking us out. But it was hard. Things needed to happen fast.”

The family took on the challenge of finding a new home for two people with different needs.

Her parents had been reluctant to leave the area where they grew up farming, but they wanted to be near at least one of their children. Giblin lives the farthest away in Kansas, but her brother was closer in Sioux Falls.

She estimates they looked into a dozen places. And then he visited Grand Living.

“He called me and said he had never been so impressed. He couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He had never seen what good care could be and had no idea it could be that different.”

She immediately scheduled a visit with her father and husband.

“I was very impressed,” she said. “The community itself is gorgeous. It’s like going to a very, very nice hotel. But the most shocking thing is the staff. I don’t know how they do it, but everyone who works there knows everyone’s name. They did that from day one. And they don’t only know the residents’ names. They know my name and my husband and the kids. It’s amazing.”

Her parents moved to Grand Living in July. Her father, who uses a walker, moved into an apartment just steps from where her mother lives in Luminations memory care.

“I was ready for a couple weeks of terror and adjusting,” Giblin said. “For anyone with Alzheimer’s, a move is scary. But she responded immediately to patient, loving, well-trained caregivers who were eager to learn about her.

While the first day was hard, by day two, Giblin opened the door to memory care and couldn’t believe what she saw.

“Mom and an aide and another resident were going up and down the hall singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ at the top of their lungs.”

Later that day, Gloria enjoyed a meal of steak and potatoes.

“She had been living on Ensure for a year,” Giblin said. “And she’s sleeping in a real bed and not a hospital bed. She’s gone from laying flat on her back with a frown on her face to being curled up on her side smiling in her sleep. On the first or second day, she got up and walked to the bathroom by herself after being forced to sit in a wheelchair for four years with an alarm on it.”

Grand Living’s team curls Gloria’s hair, trims her nails and brushes her teeth, “and she loves it,” her daughter said. “She sings and laughs and participates, and she’s getting to be a person again.”

The change in her father has been significant too. Instead of being his wife’s caretaker, Clarence is comfortable knowing staff members are there for his wife.

“He takes the weekly calendar and cuts the strip of activities for the day and puts it in his pocket,” Giblin said. “So if Mom is up and happy and doing something, he checks his calendar to decide if he wants to go to an activity or if it’s something she would also enjoy and he can take her. He calls me and giggles on the phone. That’s never happened my whole life.”

Clarence raves about Grand Living’s food, she added.

“Where he lived before, everybody had their assigned chair and food came on a tray and everybody ate the same thing,” she said. “Coming to Grand Living, you have restaurant-like places, and right off the bat, staff would call him by name and introduce him to people. They kept reminding him everybody has been through the same experience and nobody comes in with a dozen friends. And the food is amazing. He’s really picked up on the sense of community, and he and Mom both love all the music. It’s comforting and pleasant and fantastic.”

A few days after the move, the director of Luminations snapped a photo of Clarence and Gloria out her office window and sent it to their daughter.

“In four years, I’d never received that kind of information,” Giblin said.

“It’s been such a blessing for all of us. There’s nothing easy about any of this, and they have absolutely gone out of their way to make it as comfortable and pleasant as possible. It’s an amazing place. I couldn’t be happier, other than I’d like to see them every day. They’re both thriving.”

Life-changing move keeps longtime couple together

When a nursing home could no longer care for their mother, her children set out to find a new home for both their parents.

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