New program helps Sun Health Senior Living residents, and community members regain quality of life
By Shanna Hogan
When one of her La Loma Village neighbors celebrates a birthday, 88-year-old Jeanne Hall calls them to sing and plays “Happy Birthday” on the piano. It is a tradition developed over the past four years Jeanne has lived at the Sun Health Senior Living community in Litchfield Park.
“I call them up on their birthday morning and play ‘Happy Birthday’ on the piano and sing,” Jeanne says. “That’s been a hobby I’ve done since I’ve been here.”
But, last December those calls abruptly stopped when Jeanne suffered a stroke.
“The stroke affected my right side and my speaking somewhat,” Jeanne says. “I couldn’t use my right hand. I had to lift my hand when I wanted to eat.”
As she recovered at La Loma Village Health and Rehabilitation Center on the same campus, Jeanne underwent rehabilitation through a collaborative, interdisciplinary program offered to residents of La Loma Village as well as Grandview Terrace, another Sun Health community located in Sun City West.
Partnering with Senior Rehab Solutions, Sun Health offers the Communication Connection Speech Program, developed to promote and preserve language and speech production, functional motor skills and increase recovery of meaningful memory for participants to speed recovery after a medical emergency. The program aims to promote functional goals, as well as preserve quality of life.
Senior Rehab Solutions therapists specialize in physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehab management, rehab consulting and speech-language pathology.
As part of the treatment, speech language pathologist Jamie Houy spent weeks helping retrain Jeanne how to speak through an individualized treatment approach based on Jeanne’s goals focusing on retraining memory and speech. “Jeanne is such a social butterfly and we really wanted to get her back to the things she likes to do as soon as possible,” Jamie says. “She made a pretty quick recovery.”
Before moving into La Loma Village, Jeanne spent decades singing in the church choir and playing piano by ear.
“That’s my lifestyle—meeting and interacting with people,” Jeanne says. “The challenge after the stroke was being able to do my hobbies.”
Although the stroke didn’t affect her command of language, Jeanne did have difficulty with pronunciation.
“The speech therapy consisted of strengthening the muscles in her face and mouth to be able to relearn speech as well as improve swallowing,” Jamie says. “Communicating for her is such a big part of her life, so we really focused on how she can use the speech strategies.”
Practicing speech exercises regularly with her therapist, Jeanne’s ability to talk—and sing—quickly improved. Soon she was having no trouble carrying on conversations with her peers and the staff. And, the birthday serenades resumed.
“That’s one of the hobbies she took right back up as soon as she returned home,” Jamie says.
While at the La Loma Village Health and Rehabilitation Center, Jeanne was a popular patient with so many visitors that the therapists often competed for her time.
“I had excellent care at the center,” Jeanne says. “Everybody is very compassionate and helpful. I really did enjoy my stay.”