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Your Health: Elderly Care is a mission

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Americans over the age of 65 account for 14.5% of the country’s population, according to a report by seniorliving.org.

That means approximately 47 million seniors live in the United States. As seniors age, elderly care becomes even more important as life expectancy for average Americans is 79 years, according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control.

The Reformed Church Home in Old Bridge has made elderly care its mission for the residents who live long term at the home or short term.

The Reformed Church Home sits on a 15-acre property designed to give the best level of care for aging seniors. The complex is located at 1990 Route 18 North in Old Bridge.

“What makes our home different is that we are a non-profit and church affiliated. For me that makes the biggest difference, as a church sponsored home, elderly care is a mission, not a business. The mission of the home is to take care of our elders in a spiritual environment,” said Kate Shepard, Executive Director at the Reformed Church Home.

The home is affiliated with the Particular Synod of the Mid-Atlantic Reformed Church.

She said they are not looking to build the next center to make a name for themselves.

“What makes this place really special is that we are not looking at having to break even or make money to invest in other homes. It just really is about taking care of people,” Shepard said.

The facility has three floors that cater to residents living in assisted living, skilled living and on the in-patient rehabilitation floor, according to Director of Marketing Andrea Walls.

Assisted living is an apartment home-like setting for residents who may need just some assistance. Aids are always available outside of resident’s apartment doors, according to Walls.

Skilled living is senior living for residents in need of long term care assistance for normal activities of daily living.

The rehabilitation floor has on-site physical, occupational and speech therapists, who tailor rehab plans for each of the residents on the floor in the therapy programs,” she said.

Senior living and an in-patient rehabilitation floor are not the only things Reformed Church Home provides as service for elderly care.

“Each week is slated with activities everyday. We have craft activities, and had a Makers day, which was really cool because we had 3-D printers and high tech items,” Shepard said. “We really encourage residents to come be creative as they want. We also do trips out to the community. We have everything for everyone. This is really like apartment style living for some residents.”

Elderly care also consists of a nice selection of healthy options, when it comes to food. Reformed Church Home provides three meals a day, with more options and food portions at lunch, according to Shepard.

“Our food is focused on being grain healthy,” she said. “We are finding now in research that what you eat also is way of staving off Alzheimer disease or prolonging the disease process. This encourages residents who are able to make decisions that what you eat makes a difference. The food is still made to be delicious I might add.”

Shepard said residents have a menu committee that meets and discusses the menu, whom provide feedback on the meals.

“The one thing we hope for every family member is that they have a piece of mind,” she said. “We want them to feel that their love ones are being properly taken care of, that they are being stimulated, and that there is a comfort level that staff is taking care of them. For me people are trusting us with their most valuable resource, which is loved ones.”

Shepard has been executive director of Reformed Church Home for 19 years and has seen the changes through her tenure.

“Over my 19 years the needs of residents have increased,” she said. “We had early on people who came here because it was their decision, now it is because they can no longer care for themselves at home. We are providing more assistance with bathing, toileting, and eating.”

Shepard said the best part of the job is that residents know her and the staff.

“Our goal is to have comfort level here for the seniors living with us. We are blessed that we have a lot of longevity here on the staff,” she said. “That a lot of the staff stay. You learn the nuisances of residents and their activities. Our staff here is just wonderful; they are able to provide a great relationship with our residents.”

Reformed Church Home can accommodate 108 skilled nursing residents, and has 48 assisted living apartments at the home.

“The best part of this place and job is that you learn so much. You see residents who have so much to offer and get to learn their life history. Reformed Church Home is a place for everyone. This is a family community, which is focused on providing the best senior living for our residents,” Shepard said.

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