Dick Algeo (1)

On Memorial Day, Dick Algeo, resident at LSS Lutheran Village, received recognition for his time in WWII as family and his VFW post stood from a safe distance. 

On every Memorial Day for the past 75 years, Dick Algeo, a World War II veteran, plays taps at the Savannah cemetery on Chapel Hill. Due to COVID-19, he came close to breaking that yearly tradition. 

Algeo’s daughter, Kate Wilkins, recently moved him into LSS Lutheran Village Assisted Living in late February. At that time, no one expected to be hit with a pandemic and stay-at-home order. 

Moving older loved ones into an assisted living community can be overwhelming, stressful and chaotic. For Wilkins, the situation wasn’t any different. With her and her husband’s house going up on the market, she needed to figure out where to place Algeo after his recovery from a fall he took in the past year.

Dick Algeo

Although Agleo hasn't gotten to experience all of what LSS Lutheran Village has to offer due to COVID-19, he's more than willing to continue spending the rest of his days there. 

“We had to have home care assistance because it was a little more than I could handle, because he was non weight-bearing for a little while,” Wilkins said.

Though her father had already been to another assisted living facility prior to his fall, Wilkins wanted to find something more personal that could accommodate her father’s need for a familial atmosphere. When she came across Lutheran Village, she was instantly sold. 

Wilkins put in a special request to Lutheran Village: to have her father participate in a nationwide spectacle of veterans playing taps at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. Lutheran Village was more than happy to accommodate. 

“I definitely sing their praises for everything they did on that day, and every day, but that was going way above and beyond duty,” Wilkins said.

Ellen Keets placed her parents in Lutheran Village several years ago. While her father was very open and accepting and came to the realization that he needed assisted living, it was her mother who took a long time to warm up to it. 

“When she and dad first moved in, of course all we heard from her was that we stole her car and she wasn’t happy,” Keets said. “And then, once my mom started interacting with others more, she started doing better. Now just about every time we see her, she tells us how much she loves it, she has friends there and they take good care of her.”

Keets and her family selected Lutheran Village because they liked the smaller feel of it. Some of the other assisted living places they visited felt more like hotels, and Lutheran Village was a family-friendly environment, all on one floor and had “a homier atmosphere.”

“Residents often improve physically and mentally after they move in,” said ShaNa Benner, executive director of LSS Lutheran Village. “Once we take away all of their have to’s, they can focus all their energy on their want to’s.” 

Keets’ mother, who has dementia, requires extra patience and care. So far, Lutheran Village has provided her with the love and support she needs.

“There are times when she really gets frustrated and needs extra reassurance, and they are so good at staying calm and helping her feel better,” Keets said. 

Lutheran Village, like every other assisted living community in the state, cannot allow visitation due to the pandemic, and the only way to see a loved one is through their window or an outdoor, socially-distanced visit. 

Another thing that Lutheran Village offers that gives Keets peace of mind during the pandemic is the Caremerge app, which is a communication portal that sends out notifications to families about what residents are doing throughout the day. 

For Keets, she can’t see herself placing her mother anywhere else based on the level of attention given to her mother as well as herself. 

“They made note that if they called at 5:30 a.m. and didn't get an answer to wait about 10 minutes to call me back because they knew I was getting ready for work, and I was probably in the shower,” Keets said. “I mean, that's how much attention they paid that they knew what my routine was, and not everyone takes that much time. Lutheran Village has been really good with my mom.” 

Ellen Keets Family

Ellen Keets (far right) and her sister Martha Crone (far left) are satisfied with the love and care LSS Lutheran Village gives to their mother, Needy Prosser.

“Staff spends more time with our residents than even family members do, so for us at Lutheran Village it’s important to us to really get to know our residents personally – what they like, don’t like, special quirks, etc.,” Benner said.

Although it was not the easiest transition, both Keets and Wilkins commend Lutheran Village for putting their parents' minds at ease and also going above and beyond to make their life as comfortable as possible despite COVID-19. 

“If anything comes up, I feel confident they're going to tell me, and they will take care of it,” Wilkins said. 

For more information, visit the Lutheran Village Assisted Living website or call 419-281-8403.

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Thrive reporter. Photographer. Kent State University alum. Vegetarian. Certified couch potato.