Maryann, Brandywine Ambassador at Toms River, beams as she smiles while surrounded by three of her five children – doting daughters, Joanne, Diane, and Janet. For this large Italian family, taking care of mom can be complicated and stressful, but is always done with lots of love.
Many years ago Maryann waited tables while she and her husband raised their family. As the children got older, she started driving a bus for handicapped children in Toms River, and then retired. She moved to Holiday City in 2000 with her mother and stayed for nine years. With her mom gone, and dealing with some health issues, it was a family choice to start looking for an alternative living arrangement.
Maryann’s health issues started when she unfortunately suffered an aneurysm at age 44. The doctor at the time told her that the only residual affects would be short-term memory loss, but for the most part she could lead a normal life. Years later, there were signs that there was something else wrong in addition to some short-term memory loss. “When mom started to seem more confused with events, we attributed it to the aneurysm, not even thinking that it could be early onset of Alzheimer’s,” says Joanne, the oldest of the five siblings and clearly in charge of Maryann’s health decisions. Joanne explained, “I started attending dementia support groups to gather information, and realized that our mom had so many of the symptoms of very early onset Alzheimer’s. The doctor confirmed that she does in fact have the very beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. All those years after the aneurysm, they finally did connect it to Alzheimer’s!”
“We were concerned that mom was overmedicating, staying in the house day after day alone, and becoming depressed. Even with all of us assisting, managing her healthcare was overwhelming. Something needed to be done,” says Joanne.
After making the decision that Maryann would be better cared for in an assisted living community, it was time to tour and make that move. They toured four local communities, deciding that Brandywine Senior Living was the best choice. “Brandywine just blew all the others away – it’s just beautiful,” says Diane the second oldest daughter. Joanne explained, “Lisa DeLecce, the Executive Director, spoke to us woman to woman, not like a salesperson. I looked at my sister and started crying. We knew it was the best choice for mom.”
Life at Brandywine Living at Toms River has provided so many rewards for Maryann – and her children. They joked that when they want to take her out, their mom makes sure they are back in time for BINGO. “I don’t want to miss anything,” says Maryann. “I love playing BINGO, putting puzzles together, and they call me the queen of word games! The trips are fun, too. It’s good to be a Brandywine Ambassador!”
Life for the doting daughters is just as rewarding. “We don’t have to worry anymore. We know that our mom is well cared for. She has made a nice group of friends, and having a daily routine reduces her stress. She needs less reminders and can do things for herself which is terrific,” exclaims Joanne. Diane chimes in, “There are days she doesn’t want to leave here because there are activities she doesn’t want to miss, but mostly she wants to hang out with her friends.”
One of the many rewards Maryann has found at Brandywine Senior Living is being Ambassador. She greets new residents and makes them feel welcome. If someone is transitioning from assisted living to the memory care unit, called Reflections, it’s Maryann’s “job” to make sure that they are escorted to the activities and meals. She proudly wears her Brandywine Ambassador pin every day. It’s wonderful for her self-esteem. “When I get dressed in the morning, I put on my jewelry and my pin. It’s part of my routine!” The perks aren’t bad either. Maryann is invited with the three other Brandywine Ambassadors for a monthly luncheon in Brandywine’s private dining room with Lisa and some of the staff. “I think it’s so nice they have a lunch for us. I would be Ambassador even if they didn’t. I just love it!” Her family loves it too.