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Hermitage Gardens – Assisted Living at its Best

The Hermitage’s elegant dining room

No one looks forward to the time when they’ll need extra care in living daily life.
But it’s an issue many can no longer ignore — especially baby boomers faced with the dilemma of caring for aging parents, while they manage their own hectic lives.
In these situations, assisted living facilities are a Godsend. And Oxford has one of the finest around — Hermitage Gardens.
Kerri Harrison, RN., executive director

Kerri Harrison is a registered nurse and also executive director of Hermitage Gardens in Oxford. Harrison has been with the facility since July, 2013.
“I came in as the resident services director or director of nursing and then I transitioned into the role of administrator in November, 2013,” Harrison said. “That’s my current position.”
Harrison said the assisted living program at Hermitage is for people who need just that — some assistance in living their daily lives.
“Our assisted living side is for those residents who need just some assistance — they’re not dependent for care,” she said. “We offer all levels of care, depending on how much or how little our residents need. Our purpose is for residents to live in a safe environment where there is someone looking after them  24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our staff is there to help residents with such things as medication management, bathing and dressing.”
Some folks come in, she noted, and need nothing more than a roof over their heads or a maintained home where physical tasks like cutting grass for a large yard can be delegated. “It’s like an apartment within a community,” she explained.
“When that time comes around and older people can no longer maintain their own homes — there’s just too much space,” Harrison added. “Here, they can come in and live in their own little private room. As another option, we have two-room units or a studio-type units. Our residents take pride in decorating their own space and bringing anything at all to make it as home-like as possible. And they come and go here as they please.”
Harrison said Hermitage offers different activities based on the residents’ interests.
“We do bingo, crafts, movies, bring in a pastor for Bible study and we even do outings,” she explained. “We have set days to conduct shopping trips, banking and visit the Square in case our folks want to go to Square Books, the library or shopping. Whatever they want to do, we’ll try and accommodate. When a resident needs to go to the doctor’s office, we’re happy to transport them.”
The Hermitage is proud of its innovative Alzheimer’s unit.

Meals are served three times a day. Lunch is the largest, presented restaurant-style. Residents may eat in their rooms if they like, but Harrison added, “For the most part, everyone enjoys visiting together and taking their meals in our sumptuous dining area.”
“The tables are set really nicely with glassware and silver,” she described. “Residents enjoy a menu from which they can choose the day before and, again, our staff serves them individually, as if they’re in a high-quality restaurant. We have a rotating menu that recycles about every five weeks, and there are usually at least seven items to choose from. If they don’t like the main entrée, there’s almost always an alternative.”
LPN’s are on staff 24-hours-a-day. Harrison, herself is an RN, is present Monday-Friday.
Along with the assisted living side of Hermitage, trained specialists operate an Alzheimer’s unit called “Bridge to Rediscovery.”
“We’re different from any other assisted-living facility in the area because we offer this vitally needed service for those with this challenging condition,” Harrison said. “It’s our memory-care unit and it’s secured for those residents who might be at risk for wandering away.”
Two residents enjoy a friendly game of cards.

Harrison said the Alzheimer’s wing has 18 beds and feature semi-private and “companion’ rooms,” which are shared by residents and loved ones.
“The people in our Alzheimer’s unit need a bit more care,” she said. “Their healthcare involves more re-direction and re-orientation. Many of these folks can still bathe and do their own thing — but we focus on helping them with simple tasks like brushing their hair or teeth.”
Harrison said Hermitage works with Alzheimer’s residents to teach and re-direct them to activities that can bring them back to reality — even if it’s only five minutes.
“With our ‘Bridge to Rediscovery,’ we celebrate life through re-discovery,” Harrison said. “We try to get the residents involved in our program and engage them for five minutes with something that may have been a familiar home activity. We try to offer them connections to their former profession hobbies they enjoyed. We share activities that are very specific to their needs and experiences in life.
Harrison said an Alzheimer’s resident might become agitated and wonder where their family might be. That’s when staff brings out an activity called memory boxes.
“It’s a Montessori-based program tied to their cognitive level,” she said.
Katie Mae Overstreet

Katie Mae Overstreet is a resident who has lived at Hermitage Gardens for three years. She loves it
“I love everything about Hermitage,” Overstreet said. “It’s a wonderful place with wonderful people who treat you great. I have two sons and they’re just so glad I’m here being well taken care of. If I can’t be at home, this is the best place to be.”
Jean Chapman

Jean Chapman is the longest-living resident of Hermitage. She actually picked out the facility for herself when she was looking to move from her home in New Albany.
“After I lost my husband, I wanted to be closer to my relatives who lived in Oxford,” Chapman said. “I came over here and looked at the apartment and I loved it. So, I moved in. It’s a great place to live.”
For more information about Hermitage Gardens of Oxford, contact Kerri Harrison at 662-234-8244.
Story writer and photographer Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff member and baby-boomer herself. 

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