Marketing director Jen Ennis, admissions director Laura Jeros and business office manager Nicole Gruenberg are among the friendly faces at CareOne at Hamilton. (Photo by Frank Comstock.)

Life often becomes challenging as we age, and CareOne at Hamilton Assisted Living in Hamilton provides options for maintaining a level of independence, while knowing help is at hand.

Led by registered nurses Juvy Gonzales (administrator), Marlene Schweitzer (director of wellness) and Marie Cesaro (formerly acting director of wellness), the staff includes registered and licensed nurses, as well as certified nursing assistants and certified medical assistants to ensure residents receive the care they need.

The assisted living unit includes common living areas, activity rooms, and a dining room, private apartment and a few shared rooms, all with handicap accessible bathrooms. This unit is located on the second floor and is filled with light and views of the surrounding wooded areas and gardens. Assisted living has elevators and a wide, open stairwell leading to the lobby with its own sitting area, fireplace and a baby grand piano.

Harmony Village on the first floor provides residents living with the challenges of dementia or Alzheimer’s with care and assistance from a dedicated staff trained to work with those who need a little extra help.

Jen Ennis, CareOne’s director of marketing, highlighted the goal of making residents feel as if they are still at home. Instead of receiving institutional furniture, CareOne residents bring furniture, artwork, pictures, and memorabilia from their home, all professionally moved at no cost to the residents. Those who need new furniture receive help from the staff and the assistance of a local furniture store and professional movers.

One resident, living in an apartment filled with antiques, expressed her pleasure by saying, “I love it here. Everything is beautiful and clean. Everything came from my own house and it feels like my home. I’ve been here three years, and it is so nice.”

Ennis also stressed CareOne’s respite care, something not available at all assisted living facilities.

“Respite care is for families going on vacation who need a place for Mom or Dad for a couple of weeks,” Ennis said. “Also, sometimes a person may want to come in and stay for a month or so to see if assisted living is right for them.”

Multiple activities are scheduled seven days a week for residents. Church services, arts and crafts, current events, several levels of exercise, bingo, movies, outdoor activities, afternoon snacks, pet therapy, and sing-alongs at the lobby baby grand piano fill the residents’ days.

The “Tea Room” on the assisted living level is for resident activities, Ennis said. It has a library, television and a full kitchen. The facility’s cook uses the kitchen periodically to give cooking demonstrations for the residents. Families can reserve the room for parties, and it becomes especially busy around holiday times.

Tommy Beal, director of food service, knows food is important to the residents. He said he prepares meals that provide the residents with the comfort of home but also the presentation and taste of a gourmet meal that they would order at a restaurant.

CareOne also has a food council meeting once a month where residents tell Beal what their likes and dislikes are, what foods they would like to see more of, and how the kitchen can assist with holiday celebrations. Meals can be customized for religious and ethnic preference, as well as for food allergies and medical needs.

There is a well-equipped gym on the second floor available to residents able to use the equipment and physical therapists work with patients still needing therapy in the gym or in their rooms. Therapists can also help residents walking the several paths through woods and gardens on the 7-acre property.

Harmony Village, the memory care unit, has special features including an arts room and a secure outdoor courtyard with comfortable seating, outside television, gardens and a water feature. Residents in Harmony Village are currently participating in the Hamilton Rocks program. Started in Hamilton by Crockett Middle School art teacher Lora Durr, the program encourages people of all ages to paint small rocks and then place them around town. Those who find the rocks can keep them, hide them again, or be inspired to paint their own rocks.

“The residents are so important to me,” said Nicole Gruenberg, business office director. “I like to make sure I check in with them to see how they are doing, so that when I talk to their families, I can give them the courtesy of an update.”

Gruenberg notes the job can have its challenges, though.

“I think the most difficult part is when a resident passes away,” she said. “I become so close and connected with the residents and their family. That is always so difficult.”

Admissions director Laura Jeros stressed the concept of a dedicated team of professionals and the importance of the residents. “We all have the same goal, which is to provide the best services and quality of life for our residents. We listen to what we’re hearing from our residents and families. Our job is to respond in the best way possible to meet their needs,” she said.

Jeros summed up her approach by saying, “When we meet with new families looking for assisted living, we hope they feel our community is welcoming for them, a place they would trust to care for their loved one.”

CareOne at Hamilton Assisted Living is located at 1660 Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Rd. in Hamilton. Phone: (609) 586-4600.