Finding the right fit for senior living

Jo Mulwee and Waite Alexander

Choosing a senior living community for yourself or a loved one requires dedicated research and planning. With so many senior living options available, it takes time to find the best fit. On average, it can take six months to transition into senior living. However, for some older adults, the transition can take less time.

For 94-year-old Waite Alexander, a resident at The Preserve, a senior living community in Fort Myers, the entire transition took two weeks, a striking contrast from the six-month average.

A former airplane pilot and competitive sailor, Alexander has always led a very active lifestyle. Up until recently, he enjoyed playing tennis and golf nearly every day. After suffering a leg injury, Alexander’s health began to decline, and he was no longer able to enjoy his favorite activities. As a result, he was isolated at home, and his family, including daughter Jo Mulwee, became concerned that he needed more attention, positive stimulation and specialized care.

In many situations, the journey to finding a senior living community is an extensive process. The first step, making the decision to move, is sometimes difficult for seniors to come to terms with and may take longer than it will for others. Then, seniors tour communities until they find the one that is the perfect match – that could be after looking at two, or it could be after looking at 10. As for moving in, many older adults end up on a waiting list for months due to high demand.

Though the process is challenging, sometimes all it takes is a coincidence to make the process ten times smoother, and that was the case with Mulwee, as she began to consider the best options for her father.

“I was getting my nails done and talking to the woman beside me, and I mentioned that I felt like it was time for us to start finding a community for dad,” said Mulwee. “She said to me, ‘Jo, I can save you two years of searching,’ and she told me everything there was to know about The Preserve, as her mother was a resident there.”

By coincidence, Mulwee’s brother told her the following day that he felt that it was time to start the search for a senior living community for their dad. Mulwee shared what she had learned about The Preserve, and they sat down the next day to fill out a contact form on their website. They received a quick response and an invitation to tour an available apartment the next day.

After the tour, their decision was made, and Alexander soon moved to The Preserve. The prime location surrounded by shopping centers and an assortment of restaurants, positive atmosphere and engaged staff made an outstanding first impression on Mulwee and her brother.

“When Dad got to The Preserve, he completely turned around. He went from being quiet and isolated for over a year, to being bright, animated and so happy to talk to people,” said Mulwee. “At the beginning of this journey, I had no idea what I wanted because of how quickly it was happening, but it turns out that this is exactly what I wanted and what dad needed.”

The Preserve is a Volunteers of America National Services community in Fort Myers that provides intimate assisted living, skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation and memory care.

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