What do you take for granted? When you are younger, the world is limitless. No place seems too far away to visit, if not now, at least in the future. But time takes its toll, making travel and daily life more difficult. Most residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the U.S. have to face this, and many never get to revisit old or visit new places. The Charles Ford Retirement Communities of New Harmony, Indiana, however, is changing this and making the world limitless again for its residents.
In September 2016, two Charles Ford residents were taken on a trip to revisit the Florida coast. Wilma Joyce Bailey and Eleanor Roberts went on a five-day excursion to enjoy the ocean on Anna Maria Island, Florida.
“I overheard the residents talking about being sad, or maybe grieving that they would never get back to the ocean in their lifetime and it moved me,” says Amy Koch, executive director at Charles Ford Retirement Community. “There is just a healing that happens when you get to this peaceful place. It is a place where your soul gets refreshed.”
Traveling required extensive planning with the main goal of finding a place to stay close to the ocean. Koch; Rita and Greg Reynolds (who work for Charles Ford Retirement Community support service staff); and their three daughters Laura Bates (a nurse at Charles Ford Retirement Community), Jessica Jones (a life enrichment coordinator in Florida), and Katrina McMurtry (a school teacher) visited Florida and planned activities, eating and sleeping arrangements, and more, making this trip as easy and enjoyable as possible for Bailey and Roberts. Photographer Zach Straw also joined them to document the experience.
“This was an instance of the younger generation giving back to elders and to their community,” says Koch.
Bailey and Roberts saw sea turtles hatch, watched storms rage over the water, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery that only a coastline can provide.
“We shopped and ate and shopped and ate and relaxed. We would sit out on the beach in the morning and the evening and watch ships going across the ocean,” says Roberts.
“The locals and kids were back in school so we didn’t have any trouble getting around,” adds Bailey.
The outing was the Charles Ford Retirement Community’s first attempt at a trip, and it proved the excursions are doable and life-changing experiences for everyone involved, according to Koch. She also hopes they turn into an annual outing; they are considering the Rocky Mountains for next year.
“Our bodies age, and I guess even our souls as well, but our spirit, the people we are born to be, doesn’t. That is what this trip was all about. Getting back to that place is timeless,” says Koch.
For more information about Charles Ford Community, call 812-682-4675 or visit charlesfordhome.com.