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Sterling House gets a facelift

May 16, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Sterling House, a division of Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, at 1251 Business Way, in downtown Lehigh, is in the last throes of a quarter of a million dollar renovation. The assisted living complex, which was built in Lehigh in 1998 houses 42 different apartments for senior living.

"The renovation of Sterling House included the complete interior, the painting of walls, replacement of carpets, new window treatments, all new furniture including tables and chairs in the big dining room," said Thomas Watson, executive director.

With the renovation, an added Internet Cafe was included and now residents of the well landscaped complex are able to keep in touch with their family members online via email and Skye when they can actually see each other on the screen monitor.

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Sterling House is located at 1251 Business Way in Lehigh.

"This is a wonderful new addition. It really gives our residents a way to keep in touch with the world. Being able to talk to your family in real time or through email is a wonderful technology for our residents and it is being accepted well," said Carol Misiolek, Sterling House's marketing director.

"You would be surprised how well it is working with them. Many people who are seniors are afraid of using a computer, but we don't present it to them that way," added Watson.

"We let them know that with a few key strokes, they can open up the world for themselves. One of our eldest resident will use the computer for religious services and it came easy for her."

All that is left with the major renovation project is some of the walls with wainscoting and the project is complete.

Misiolek, who oversees activities daily for the residents, said it was a great thing for our residents to watch the facility undergo renovation. They told us they really enjoyed watching, she said.

Brookdale Senior Living Solutions is the larger provider of assisted living complexes in the country with 650 homes in more than 30 states.

"You can realize how our residents felt when they say workers putting up all new lighting fixtures, chandeliers, window treatments and new furniture through the common areas of the facility," Watson said.

"We definitely have a new look that is fresh and appealing and the public is always invited to visit with us, he said.

"That included new wooden floors, customized dining room and more, in addition to the Internet Cafe.

"We show our residents how they can hook up to the world in our Internet Cafe and they find it much easier than they thought it would be.

Residents can go online in a special program at the assisted living complex to see a list of monthly activities and other special events planned at the facility. Such things as menus for each days are posted.

If they need any additional help, we are here to assist," Misiolek said.

Residents of Sterling House live in individual apartments of different sizes. In their units, they are able to bring their own furniture from home. Misiolek as market director, says she is always available to answer questions from residents and/or their families.

"I also am happy to answer questions of families of seniors in the community when it becomes apparent that their loved one cannot live alone anymore," Misiolek said.

Watson added that oftentimes, the children of seniors live up north while their parents live in Southwest Florida. They have questions about the possibilities of what can be done to assist their parents when they are no longer to live alone and want to continue to live here and not up north.

Misiolek is more than a marketing director. She provides many other services to the residents such as taking them to doctors' appointments or other places to pick up prescriptions or to shop.

"It is one of the services we are more than glad to provide," she said.

"Oh we don't want to forget, too, that under the renovation, we have a therapy room now for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy," Misiolek said.

Executive Director Watson noted that the corporate people are always interested in keeping we and our staff up to date with all things regarding senior care living and also the training of our staff. As such, our two people who prepare food make use of culinary training off site.

Three meals are served at Sterling House - breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon and dinner at 5 p.m. Birthdays are celebrated and other events for the residents and snacks provided anytime throughout the day.

"We are always providing life enrichments for our residents,' Misiolek said.

Each month, residents are provided a themed-four-page paper that offers articles of interest and the full calendar of events planned at the facility. Many subjects are included throughout the month on a daily basis. This month's front page includes a story of "The Greatest Generation" and carries the famous photograph of an American GI kissing a woman upon the arrival of soldiers at the end of World War II. The photo has become an icon showing the emotions of returning troops. There is also information about health and wellness which includes news about medicines.

Called Good Times at Brookdale, the paper is available to family members, too. Residents' birthdays are listed and there are always warm welcomes for new residents.

Sterling House welcomes the help from the Lehigh Hope Hospice house which can provide personnel to visit the facility's residents.

"Many of our residents live here until the end of their life. That is one of the reasons Hope Hospice becomes involved.

Both Watson and Misiolek strive to make sure Sterling House is known throughout the community. As such, groups are invited into the assisted complex for tours and for opportunities to speak with our residents.

Sterling House hires between 25 and 30 Lehigh residents and Watson noted that there are six such "communities," in Lee County. By communities, he speaks of other corporate-owned facilities which also include a memory care center.

And Watson and Misiolek say they want to remind families of local residents who are elderly that they are always available to answer questions and offer advice.

"We talk a lot on the phone to loved ones about what we do here," Misiolek said.



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