Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 05/11/2018

Walking Strong

Walking Strong

Bruce Swanson has always been a walker. He walked all over the farm he grew up on near Rochester, NY. He spent decades hiking with his wife. And during his leisure time, he was often hunting and fishing—walking to reach the best spots.

When Bruce could no longer walk with ease—and had to start using a walker—the lifestyle change was pronounced. When Bruce’s friend, Diane, noticed his declining mobility and overall physical health, she encouraged him to consider an assisted living community. She later facilitated his move to The Gardens at Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA.

The Gardens at Fair Oaks offers exceptional assisted living care on a beautifully landscaped campus. Residents enjoy engaging activities, restaurant-style dining, and assistance from caring staff members who are always ready to help.

As part of a group of communities managed by the Bainum family, The Gardens at Fair Oaks offers residents varying levels of care and the personalized service that is the hallmark of a family run business. The Gardens at Fair Oaks’ neighboring community, The Woodlands Retirement Community, offers independent living apartments. The community’s other sister property, Fairfax Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, provides care for residents with long-term acute care needs or shortterm rehabilitation needs. Residents can move up or down this continuum of care as their personal needs change.

The Bainum family has operated the nursing center since 1964 and has a solid reputation for impeccable customer service. They run each community as a true family owned business, with hands-on management and the attitude that the staff and residents are all part of one big extended family.

Bruce is happy to be a part of that family, and even happier to be back on his feet—without assistance. After just one month at The Gardens at Fair Oaks, he is now able to walk without a walker again.

A native of New York, Bruce spent his formative years on a farm near Rochester. His father was a farmer, and he developed an early interest in agriculture. When he was a pre-teen, his family moved to Ohio for his father’s job.

After graduating from high school in Cincinnati, Bruce attended Ohio State University. He served in the Army for four years after college. When he left the service, Bruce attended the University of California at Davis and received his Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics.

Bruce spent decades working for the federal government as an agricultural economist, based primarily in Washington, D.C. During this time, he also attained his Ph.D. from Texas A&M.

While living in D.C., Bruce met, Hedwig, or “Hedi,” who became his wife. Bruce and Hedi spent lots of time hiking together. They also enjoyed wintering in Lighthouse Point, FL. After Hedi passed away, Bruce continued to live alone in his home in Alexandria, VA.

When his friend Diane suggested that he look into assisted living, Bruce agreed that it was a good idea. Diane carefully researched several local communities before selecting The Gardens at Fair Oaks.

“She knew that I was going downhill—that I was starting to need help,” Bruce recalled. “She did a really good job finding this place, and moving has helped me so much.”

Bruce’s improved mobility is largely due to the physical therapy services available to all residents. A dedicated staff of physical, occupational and speech therapists are available in an on-site therapy center or in resident rooms. Therapists offer personalized services to help each resident attain their maximum quality of life—regardless of their age or past injuries.

“When Mr. Swanson first moved here, he was using a walker. He doesn’t even need one now,” said Ray Tate, the administrator of The Gardens at Fair Oaks.

“The exercise program that the therapists put together for me has really helped,” Bruce added. “I’ve used lots of different machines and done all types of exercises. The therapists are incredible; they are so knowledgeable and patient.”

“Our Wellness Program includes group therapy sessions for all residents,” Ray explained.
“We focus on everything from core strengthening to walking and mobility. The nurses assess residents and point out areas of weakness, so we can target those areas. We really focus on helping individuals maintain or regain their independence.”

The Gardens at Fair Oaks offers group therapy sessions to every resident for no additional fee. The community also offers therapy to its adult day care attendees. Specialized individual therapy sessions are also available for an additional fee.

Since beginning his therapy regimen, Bruce has progressed so much that he will now be doing some of his exercising outside on the trails surrounding the picturesque campus. “My therapist recently told me that I am now ready to spend some time outside walking,” Bruce said.

In addition to his therapy sessions, Bruce enjoys the excellent dining options at The Gardens at Fair Oaks. “I don’t miss cooking at all,” he said. “The meals here are wonderful. I don’t ever remember
having a bad meal, and the kitchen and dining room staff do a great job.”

Bruce also attends some of the scheduled entertainment options on campus. However, his favorite
activity is still walking. “I like to go to shows when they have them, but mostly I just walk around and talk to people,” he said.

An avid reader, Bruce also spends a lot of time reading newspapers and magazines in
the community’s common areas. He enjoys spending time reading alone in his private apartment as well. Most importantly, Bruce always has a choice whether he wants to be surrounded by other residents or enjoy his solitude.

Today, Bruce Swanson’s walker is sitting in his bedroom collecting dust. He is walking around The Gardens at Fair Oaks. Whether he is walking and chatting with friends or enjoying the beautiful landscaping on campus, Bruce is delighted to be walking again.

By Christy Brudin


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