Healthcare Heroes

Throughout the course of the pandemic, the world and our nation have cheered on our “healthcare heroes.” We have lent them our spirit and hoped that somehow it would help sustain them for the battle that they are waging. I share in these sentiments and am truly grateful for the men and women of our hospitals and clinics, our first responders and emergency teams who sprang into action.

While these heroes deserve every ounce of the praise and support they have received, it leads me to question why another group of heroes — the employees of senior living and nursing communities — have not been given the same. Instead, in many cases they have been criticized for the work that they have done.

Since the beginning of the crisis, senior living communities have been vilified by the news media, on social media and in the court of public opinion. They have become scapegoats for a virus that world-renowned doctors and specialists can’t contain, and somehow they have been presented as “failing” their residents for not being able to stop the virus.

Over the past 12 years, I have proudly served as part of the team of Catholic Care Center, a not-for-profit retirement community. I did not envision myself working in senior housing or even healthcare when I was working toward my marketing degree at Wichita State University. I didn’t have any experience with senior communities and couldn’t imagine why they would need me on the team since I am not a nurse (and probably not anyone’s first call for even first aid).

What I’ve learned during my time at Catholic Care Center is that senior living communities are one of the best kept secrets of our society. I don’t know anywhere else on earth that you can come and instantly have access to around-the-clock clinical care, restaurant-quality meals, better activities and programs than many cruise ships, opportunities to attend church and practice the faith of your choice, and make friends. The magic of senior living isn’t just found at Catholic Care Center — you can find it at many senior living communities around the area. The secret to our community and the others like us is that our employees have dedicated their lives to serving others, and they love what they do.

Now imagine a place like Catholic Care Center during a year like 2020. I can assure you that our team didn’t stop loving what we do, and we didn’t stop caring for our residents. In fact, that love and passion made us work even harder to serve our community.

We certainly had to change the way that we did things. Sadly, we were required by our governing agencies to limit the number of visitors allowed into our community. And so we became friends, families, caregivers and sometimes even the entertainment, all to keep the ship afloat. Everyone on the team, from our CEO to our nurses, dietary team, housekeeping and administrative staff found new and creative ways to support each other and those we serve. Unlike hospitals, our “customers” don’t stay with us for a few days or even weeks. They are likely in our care for years and that is a long time to maintain positive customer experiences and build upon relationships

This is likely not the story that you saw on the news. Instead of reporting all of the good that communities like ours are doing, the media choose to report how many people died from COVID-19 in a community or how many people were sick with the virus. While that may be part of the story, there are two things that are important to remember.

One: The unfortunate reality of our industry is that many of the people who come to live in our communities, particularly in long-term care, are there because they are already frail or have other health concerns and may be near end of life already. Two: People are dying from the virus at unprecedented rates. Many of the positive cases are community spread so it could be caught anywhere, but those businesses aren’t going to be featured as the top story on the evening news.

There are many heroes that have emerged during the pandemic. I would count among them students and teachers who have adapted to learning from home, families who have creatively found new ways to connect with each other, delivery workers who have seen their work load multiplied and somehow keep making it happen each day. But for me there are no greater heroes than those who dedicate their lives to senior living. The employees who work in the senior living communities in our area are bright, compassionate and energetic souls who choose to share their talents with the elders of our society. They have come together and supported each other in one of the most difficult times of any of our lives.

Jennifer Sanders is director of marketing/clinical liaison for Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire.

How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living

Caring for a person that has dementia can be challenging at times. Memory loss can present different obstacles in a person’s life, transforming tasks that used to be perfectly ordinary into difficult and, even potentially dangerous, ordeals.

Of course, this can become an even greater challenge if the person you’re caring for is one of your parents. It can be difficult seeing your mother or father in that state, and, in some cases, moving them into an assisted living facility that specializes in professional care is an option to consider.

When Does it Become Apparent That Assisted Living Is the Best Option?

If you are having trouble deciding whether or not you should move your parent into an assisted living community, then you should take a look at some of the signs they are showing you. If you notice that their cognition has begun to significantly deteriorate, then they should probably be moved into an assisted living facility.

Signs include forgetfulness (forgetting to take their medication, forgetting to shower or brush their teeth, etc.), incontinence, and things not being properly taken care of around the house. Pets might not be receiving proper care, or perhaps food has gone bad without them realizing.

Assisted living communities can provide the expert care and services that your aging parent needs while also giving them the ability to socialize and be part of a community of people who are in similar situations.

If you feel that moving your parent to an assisted living facility is becoming more and more necessary, we have provided some information on how to find the right place for them and navigate the moving process. We will also discuss other options for dementia care if you feel that assisted living may not be the right fit. 

Finding the Right Home

The first stage of the process is always going to involve some research and planning, but you need to make sure that you’ve spoken to the parent who needs care before you start to make any plans. 

This can be difficult, especially if their dementia makes it hard for them to understand what’s happening. If they are having difficulty understanding what is happening or aren’t convinced that assisted living is the right avenue for them, then make sure to assure them that they are going to a place where they will receive proper care, can socialize with other people, and where their quality of life will be significantly improved.

Do Your Research

You’re going to want to make sure that you have done proper research on any community that you are considering moving your parent into. Take a tour of the facility and discuss with the heads of the community about the level of care your parent requires.

Bring a list of questions you have and inquire about the different activities they have to offer, as well as what measures they take to ensure that their patients are living an enjoyable and comfortable life. Some questions you should ask include:

  • Is the environment designed to be safe and welcoming?
  • Is the staff made up of caring and passionate individuals?
  • Have the experiences of previous and current residents been positive?
  • How are the meals structured?

You should also ask to view an activity calendar. Assisted living communities offer lots of activities to help their residents stay active and lively, and some of these activities are designed for both residents and their families too!

Of course, always make sure to read reviews and testimonials from previous patients and their families before making the decision to move. You want to find an assisted living community that only has their patients’ best interests at heart. 

Applying for an Assisted Living Home

Countless people rely on senior living facilities and nursing homes to keep themselves healthy. This can make it difficult to get your loved one into the place you feel is best for them, and you may need to apply for one a few months in advance. 

Luckily, care center staff like the team at Catholic Care Center can help you through the application process and financial planning stages. If the move needs to happen sooner rather than later, we will do everything we can to help move the process along. 

Moving Them Into Assisted Living

If your mom or dad is struggling with the moving process, then it is important to take steps to make sure that they are as comfortable as possible. Showing them the place beforehand is a good way to get them ready for the move. That way they have an idea of what they’re getting into and can even help plan how the room is arranged and decorated; this way it feels more like a home to them and is more personal. If your parent continues to resist the need for additional care, it may require advice or recommendations from their doctor to persuade them to make the transition. 

On the contrary, if your parent is open to the idea of moving into an assisted living facility, you could encourage them by saying things like “I can’t wait for you to see the new place,” or “You’re going to love how we’ve decorated the place.” This will help get them excited leading up to the day when they actually move in.

Essentially, you just need to meet them at the same level they are at, in an emotional sense. If they are ready and willing to make the transition, then you need to be as well. If they are unhappy about having to move out of their house, then you need to stress that, although it is hard for everyone to have to do this, it is the right thing to do. We all want to grant our aging parents the opportunity to thrive, even if that means an adjustment in their living situation. 

Continue to Show Your Support 


Once your parent makes it into assisted living, their future is going to be much brighter. This sort of service can enable people to maintain as much of their independence as possible, all without putting themselves at risk or missing out on crucial elements of their old lifestyle. 

Of course, making the most of this may not be quite as easy as you expect, and you will still have to work hard to make sure that your parents have the best possible care. Paying regular visits to or video calling someone with dementia can help prevent them from getting too lonely and will keep their spirits high during what is most likely a difficult time.

Visiting at least once a week is a good way to approach this, and you can split these visits between your other family members too. A lot of patients love to have their favorite foods and snacks delivered to them by their loved ones, so this is a great way to show your support as well.

Along with seeing your parents as often as you can, it is a good idea to have conversations with the staff working with them. Catholic Care Center stresses the importance of predicting possible situations before they happen and taking measures to ensure that those situations don’t happen in the first place.

We do this by asking you questions about how your parents would react to certain situations. If a particular scenario would make your parent uncomfortable, then we will put them in a place where that is unlikely to occur.

Assisted living communities are a wonderful thing. They help your parents and other loved ones get the care they need and allow them to live comfortably in a small community of people. Moving someone you care about into an assisted living facility is going to take some work, but, as long as you follow the right steps, the whole process should be simple and straightforward.

Additional Dementia Care Options

Sometimes, depending on the severity of a person’s dementia, assisted living is not always the best route to take when providing the care that they need. Assisted living is for patients who have difficulty functioning or struggle to perform simple daily tasks.

Catholic Care Center offers what are called Memory Cafes, which is a free service that is available for a few hours a few times a week. At these Memory Cafes, people with dementia get the chance to socialize over a nice meal and it allows their caregivers (usually the family) to get a nice break from the constant care that is required.

Catholic Care Center is a non-profit organization composed of a team of driven, compassionate, hardworking individuals who are committed to providing the care and assistance that your loved one requires.

If you live in Wichita, KS and are looking for an assisted living community or other dementia care services for your parent, contact Catholic Care Center. For more information on moving call (316) 771-6550 to schedule a virtual tour today!

Emily E.

I formally worked at Catholic Care Center many years ago in the therapy dept, it is one of the nicest facilities I’d had the privilege of working in. All staff were very friendly and accommodating.
– Emily E.

Barbara F.

We are blessed to live here.
– Barbara F.

Shawn B.

I give them 10 stars, I was there at one point and they are the best!
– Shawn B.

Susan I.

Staff/nurses went above and beyond to celebrate my mom’s birthday through quarantine. Debra also made sure that we as family felt included, can’t thank them enough!
– Susan I.

Tom M.

They are wonderful!
– Tom M.

Gary J.

Both of my parents received loving care here in the last years of their lives, my father with Alzheimer’s and my mother with dementia. We are fortunate to have the Catholic Care Center in the Wichita area.
– Gary J.

John H.

My wife had excellent care there, the staff was my family. Such dignity for Linda when she left us. Thank you, I will never forget.
– John H.

Janice M.

The most wonderful place!!! Our mother was there almost 10 years and I have referred many to Catholic Care.
– Janice M.