Thanksgiving came early for about 500 residents and family members who shared turkey, dressing and all of the trimmings with their loved ones who reside in a nursing home in Destrehan.
Placing a loved one or family member in a nursing home facility is never an easy decision.
District 2 School Board Representative Mary Bergeron’s 91-year-old mother, retired school teacher Nola Spiess, has been living at the Ormond Nursing Home in Destrehan for two years.
“My mother was able to live on her own up until she was 88 years old,” Bergeron said. “She lived independently and took care of herself, including driving.”
Bergeron says that everyone goes through changes in their lives and no one knows what life holds for us, but adjustments have to be made for families in situations like this.
“This year my mother’s birthday will fall on Thanksgiving Day,” she said. “The staff does everything they can to reassure her and to reassure the family. They work very hard to make sure she has what she needs and she is comfortable in her surroundings.”
Bergeron says other people Spiess knows from the community have moved into the facility too, so her mother is surrounded by plenty of familiar faces and lots of visitors.
“I see my mother probably twice a week,” Bergeron said. “Most of the extended family lives locally. Her two surviving sisters and a cousin come on Sundays to visit with her.”
Bergeron says that from a health standpoint, Spiess is better since she’s moved into the facility.
“It’s very easy for older people to dehydrate or drink too much water,” she said. “Sometimes they can fall. When you’re in a facility like this, the medical staff can make sure she’s being properly monitored.”
Bergeron says it’s important for family members to build a relationship with the staff.
“Usually Thanksgiving was spent at my house with her and my family,” she said. “But I will tell you it’s a little bit different than having her come to my house, but the meal was delicious and the mood was good. Everyone was smiling and happy.”
Bergeron says the staff is also happy to see family members.
“I think it’s because they recognize that family members are so important to the residents,” she said. “People who work in nursing homes are special people, because they’re doing the task the family members don’t or can’t do.”
Another retired teacher, 90-year-old DaisyBel Neyrey, is Speiss’ friend who lives across the hall from her.
“Mom lived with us for about 10 years,” her daughter, Germaine Caroll, said. “My husband and I always thought my mother would continue to live with us, but she has arthritis and was one of those classic cases where the hurricane evacuation proved to be too much for her.”
Neyrey retired from Cabrini High School in New Orleans, where she taught for 35 years. She had always been very independent and very active.
“My daughter lives close by,” Neyrey said. “If I need her I can call her.”
Neyrey doesn’t plan to spend Thanksgiving at the nursing home.
“We’re hoping if my mother feels up to it she can come with us to my daughter’s house,” Caroll said. “She lives nearby.”
Neyrey said she’s treated well at the facility and counts on the support of her daughter and extended family members to get through the holidays.