When Diane Hicks and her husband, John, moved to Emerald Heights in 2015, they had already known it would be their forever home for two full decades. The pair had learned about the community when helping an elder neighbor move there in 1994. “We would come up and visit her, and we fell in love with Emerald Heights,” says Diane. “We were too young to even get in, but we got our name on the waiting list since we knew we’d be coming here at some point in our future.”
The concept of continuing care for seniors intrigued Diane and John because it meant they had access to vital care if necessary and could be near each other. The pair became Offsite Residents in 2014 and moved into the Trailside building in 2015, a bit sooner than planned because John was diagnosed with a form of frontotemporal dementia. Being Offsite Residents allowed them to know they had a place to be before his illness made it impossible to get into Emerald Heights and to know they could be together until his passing in 2019.
“Under the circumstances it was absolutely the best decision I made. I couldn’t have taken care of him myself because he needed that 24-hour care,” Diane shares. “With Emerald Heights, as he transitioned through care levels he moved to a different building on the campus, but all I had to do was walk across the street to see him. I could have meals with him and didn’t have to worry about going somewhere far away. For me it was a lifesaver—financially, physically and emotionally.”
Along with the continuing care, Diane enjoys the individual level of involvement that each resident can have within the community. She is currently the vice president of the residents’ association and was its secretary for two years prior. There are many activities and groups residents can join which adds to the variety of offerings on campus. After seven years of living at Emerald Heights, Diane is still finding things to try and get involved in.
Lots of residents get involved in activities such as the Emerald Market. There they can help other residents shop for basic foods, necessities and gifts for visiting grandchildren or other family members. The library uses volunteers to restock shelves and order new books to keep the selection fresh. Others, like Diane, participate in exercise classes such as the signature program “Working with Weights” or line dancing. There are also groups that donate items they create to local charities, such as scarves and hats from the Knit-Wits club and wooden toys made by residents working in the woodwork shop.
Even with all these options, there’s always room to create more. Diane adds, “If you want to do it, you can find a place or start your own group.”