Seacrest At Homeby Alanna Berman May 8, 2014
By Alanna Berman
A year ago, when Seacrest At Home, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of Seacrest Village Retirement Communities was founded, collaborators couldn’t imagine the impact the program would have on the lives of so many. By offering professional and reliable caregiving to seniors in their own homes; to date, Seacrest at Home has serviced 119 clients and provided more than 32,000 hours of service.
Like many who have employed the services of Seacrest at Home, Bertha Zeloner became acquainted with the organization through its affiliate, Seacrest Village, where she has lived for the past 11 years. At 102 years old, Zeloner still lives in the retirement community’s independent living facility. She has always been independent, and enjoys almost daily walks around the gardens and Koi ponds of her home with only the help of her walker. Though when she recently underwent surgery, she needed help with a lot more.
That’s when Seacrest at Home stepped in, placing Susan Martin, a Home Care Associate and CNA with Zeloner while she recovered. For three weeks, Martin was with Zeloner 24/7 to help with everything from getting out of bed, bathing and preparing meals, to strength exercises and pushing a wheelchair into the dining hall for meals toward the end of the recovery process.
“In the beginning, I had to have help with everything,” Zeloner, who underwent hip replacement surgery three years ago, says. “I wasn’t able to do anything without the help of [Sue]; but she just did her job so beautifully that it was a pleasure [to get better], and she helped me know what I was supposed to do to get better.”
When a Home Care Associate begins working with a Seacrest at Home client, both parties know they will be spending a lot of time together; mostly in the older adult’s home and personal space, which is why matching the right Home Care Associate up with a client is such an important job. In Zeloner and Martin’s case, the match couldn’t have been more perfect: they became good friends after their professional relationship was over, and still spend time together.
“The day that I found out that I wasn’t going to be with her, I cried,” Martin says of the close relationship she was able to foster with Zeloner during their brief time as caretaker and client.
Martin Perez is the Home Care Coordinator for Seacrest at Home, and says he knew that Zeloner and Martin would be a good match right away.
“I have known Bertha for a while through my work at Seacrest Village,” Perez says. “I had seen her quite a few times [walking the grounds], and I always saw her with her hat and her gloves, and I always said ‘Hi’ to her. When we got the opportunity to work together, I knew that she was very particular in the type of people that she liked working with. … I knew that Sue would be a great match.
Though Zeloner is back to living independently, Martin takes an hour of her personal time each week to stop by and spend time with her new friend. They talk, play checkers and take a walk around the Koi pond – Bertha’s favorite activity. Zeloner remains active outside of her time with Martin, too and works with trainers at home for strength conditioning and stretching exercises.
“At 102 years old, when you enter into skilled nursing, it’s very rare to go back into independent living so soon, if ever,” Jon Schwartz-Community Liaison for Seacrest At Home says. “But, with the help of [Sue] and with [Berthaqw’s] determination and strength I think she has gotten to that point [largely because of Seacrest at Home].”
Zeloner says after her surgery, she couldn’t do anything for herself, but now, she does it all. In March, her daughter was married in San Diego and she walked with her family during the processional. She will be 103 this month.
“[Bertha] is very strong and she is a fighter, so she willed her way better, along with our help and she got herself back,” Martin says. A
To learn more about Seacrest at Home, visit seacrestathome.org.