"It was pretty evident, even to Mom, that she was living in a home that was way too large, that she could no longer take care of," says Christi. "Basically, my sisters and I sat her down and discussed that her living alone was no longer doable for all of us. We asked her what she wanted to do about it and we explored her options."
After looking at facilities near each of their homes, Millie's daughters decided that Terrace Heights was the best place for her to call home.
Terrace Heights wasn't as expensive as some of the other facilities in Denver and Florida where by sisters live. Terrace Heights offered more, and was right next to the medical center," explains Christi. "It was the physical setting of the facility that won us over. Terrace Heights isn't like a downtown high-rise. It sits far enough out of town that you can see the woods or farmland when you're in the building. I knew that was something my mom would like."
Although they did the searching, Millie did have criteria for her daughters to follow. "Finding a place that was secure was really important to me, and Terrace Heights fulfilled that need. To me, it's really important to feel safe and know that not just anyone is going to barge in here."
When it came time to move her mom to Terrace Heights, Christi knew it would be easier said that done. "Mom was moving from a large house; so making decisions about what she could take was very difficult for her," says Christi. "My sisters and I had to make a lot of decisions ourselves."
After living in a four-bedroom house and downsizing to an apartment, Millie adjusted to the space difference. "There were certain things that I missed, like all of my books," says Millie, an avid reader. "I couldn't feel too bad though because some of the books were donated to the Rotary Club for a fundraiser, and to a veteran's hospital. Even though I was disappointed I didn't have some things, I realized that it was all just stuff that could be replaced if I really needed it."
Millie moved to Terrace Heights sight-unseen. "I moved in on Halloween, and the first person I saw as a tenant dressed in a bag lady costume for the occasion. I thought, 'What have these girls gotten me into?' I quickly realized though, just how great Terrace Heights is."
Adjusting to a new area and to new people was difficult at first, but now Millie's social calendar is quite full. She frequently goes on bus trips, attends concerts and joins in on crafting classes. "When I first moved in, I felt isolated because I was away from my friends back in Iowa, but the staff an other tenants really helped me settle in. It just goes to show, you bloom where you're planted."
Millie even fell in love while living at Terrace Heights. "I had lived here five years before I met and married Ken [who lived at Terrace Heights]. We were married five years before he passed away. We really enjoyed living here and we liked that we could come and go as we pleased."
Christi and her sisters are pleased that Millie is living at Terrace Heights. "Mom is doing wonderfully there! When she first moved in, Mom was in poor health. At the time, I thought it might only be six months before I had to move her into a nursing home," explains Christi. "Since living at Terrace Heights, her health has improved and she is very healthy and active. The improvement is remarkable! Being in an atmosphere where people are around and there things to do has really helped Mom."
"Mom has been able to live on her own longer because of Terrace Heights," says Christi. "She still is able to maintain activity and is still living pretty independently. I do have to help her with heavy lifting, but she does a lot for herself. It is nice to know that the people around her would know if she needs something too. Even if she doesn't call me, someone will. After all this time, the staff at Terrace Heights has become an extension of our family. They take time to get to know us; even the newest great-grandchild! They really are a wonderful support for us."
Millie appreciates having the staff and other tenants to watch out for her too. "Even though we are on our own here, it's still nice to have someone who is looking out for you. We check on each other," says Millie. "Each of us also gets a Lifeline unit, so if there's an emergency, we can call for help."
Although Terrace Heights is an apartment complex that has many common areas, Millie still feels that she is able to maintain her privacy. "If I want to talk to people, I can usually fund someone who wants to play a game of dominions. If I want to spend time by myself, I just stay in my apartment."
If you are a child looking to help your parents realize it's time to move out of their home, Christi has some advice. "Be very straight forward about the problems you perceive about your parents' living situation. Talk about how difficult and stressful it can be for an older person to manage a household on his/her own, and how it affects you too," says Christi. "There are so many obvious benefits of moving into a place like Terrace Heights, and your parents will no longer have to manage their household on a larger level. Terrace Heights tenants are only responsible for their own space. This is the approach we used with Mom, and it removed so much stress from her."
Knowing how great it's been for her, Millie would encourage those 62 and older to check out Terrace Heights. "A lot of people don't want to give up their homes, but there comes a time when you really can't handle it," says Millie. "Terrace Heights is just the next step in helping you maintain your independence. Here, I can do what I want in my own space, on my own time. I love my life here at Terrace Heights."
If you would like more information about Terrace Heights or would like to schedule a tour of the facility, call 608-847-2377. Apartments are available.Millie (second from left) enjoys life at Terrace Heights! She is pictured with her daughters (l-r) Christi, Jo, and Janet, who all appreciate their mother's home.