For Stephanie Berman, moving her independently minded parents Bob and Jeanne Trout to Harvest Hill was not an easy decision, but in the end, one that was entirely worth it. The difference in their health and happiness has been “night and day” since moving in in March, Steph said.
Bob, 92, is a former lumber worker, special education teacher, semi-truck driver and Korean War Navy vet, while Jeanne, 90, was a registered nurse who worked with OB-GYN patients. The fiercely independent couple, both native Michiganders, were initially reluctant to leave their home of 54 years but agreed to try Harvest Hill on a trial basis. In May, they decided they would stay on permanently.
Steph, who lives nearby and visits three or four times a week, has since noticed a marked positive change in her parents as they become increasingly engaged with other residents, the staff, and daily activities.
“The stimulation they are getting here is so worth it,” said Steph, a registered nurse at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital who works as certified diabetes care and education specialist. “They were sitting in their home thinking they were socializing, but they weren’t really. Now they see people a minimum of three to five times a day with meals and the nurses coming in.”
Steph first knew her parents were struggling to handle all their needs after her beloved big brother Dyrk’s sudden death 10 months ago from complications of spina bifida. It started with a red flag: Bob had a stroke two days before Christmas and Jeanne forgot to mention it. That led Steph to suspect her mom, who had spent many years taking care of Dyrk, might be developing the symptoms of cognitive impairment.
Upon visiting her parents in January, Steph was shocked to discover both had stopped eating due to grief and had lost an alarming amount of weight. She drove them back to New Hampshire where she and her husband could care for them, and eventually, they decided to consider Harvest Hill.
“In a very long, hard process, we knew they needed to feel independent again, but closer to me, their only family left to help them,” Steph said. “When she first got here, my mom was not understanding that she could not live alone safely anymore. She called almost nightly demanding her keys to her car so they could drive back to Michigan in the morning!”
But it turns out that Steph was right about her mother’s condition. Her mother’s new doctor at Dartmouth Hitchcock, a gerontologist, has since diagnosed Jeanne with cognitive impairment, and she now has the support of both hospital care and the attentive nursing team at Harvest Hill.
For her parents, now in assisted living, meeting other residents has proven to be just what the doctor ordered, as has being able to continue doing the activities they both love, like golfing. In fact, Jeanne has already gotten several holes-in-one on the Harvest Hill putting green!
“My parents are also people lovers, so they love to laugh and converse,” said Steph. “After finally meeting people and enjoying getting to know the staff, my mother started feeling more comfortable. They are also in a ground floor apartment with a patio now — that was another gamechanger.”
For his part, Bob continues to enjoy the food at Harvest Hill — for hers, Steph is just happy he is eating again.
“My parents are doing so much better than they were 10 months ago,” she said. “I can only thank the staff at Harvest Hill. They are so sweet, caring and accommodating, and you can tell they love the residents. They made our transition so easy, and they were super helpful to me as an adult child who had no idea what I was doing.”