MADISON – A Last year, when Lynette Hegwood lost her husband to cancer, she decided it was time to consider alternatives to assist her with the challenges of living alone. And she could think of no better place than where her mother, Flora “Flo” Mullins, has lived for more than a decade — St. Catherine’s Village. Now, daughter and mother live just one floor apart at the all-inclusive life care community in Madison, Mississippi.
“I was familiar with St. Catherine’s Village’s respected reputation,” said Lynette. “In 2004, when my husband’s mom was living with Parkinson’s disease, we accompanied her when she looked at several senior living communities. We kept coming back to St. Catherine’s Village because it offered multiple levels of care — independent living in apartments and garden homes, assisted living in Marian Hall, memory care in Campbell Cove, and skilled nursing in Siena Center.”
“My mother-in-law did not immediately warm up to the idea of moving, but she made the decision on her own,” said Lynette. Part of the reason was because St. Catherine’s Village offered a mission-focused environment that encourages residents in all levels to enjoy fullness of life, health and faith.
At this same time, Lynette’s own mother, Flo, became ready to leave the hassles and maintenance of her old home behind and gain more freedom.
“They were both living alone in their own houses and my husband and I were going back and forth to help them take care of yards and chores. It kept us busy,” Lynette explained. With the promise of a family Alaskan cruise after their moves as an incentive, Lynette’s mother and mother-in-law packed their belongings and the two women moved into St. Catherine’s Village between May and July, 2004.
“Over the next 14 years, I got to know so many residents and employees at St. Catherine’s Village. They all hold your hand whenever you need them. They became — and continue to be — our extended family,” she said.
It was only natural, then, when Lynette felt it was her time to consider benefits offered to residents at St. Catherine’s Village, she chose the life care community, too, even though her son and his family offered to move both Lynette and Flo near them in Pennsylvania. Plus, Flo knew so many people at St. Catherine’s Village that Lynette immediately had a built-in network of friends.
“If anyone here isn’t happy, I haven’t met them,” she laughed. “This is such a caring environment, you’ll never get as many hugs as you do here.”
When deciding which apartment to choose, Lynette thought, “I want to be close to mom,” adding that “it would be nice if she could bring me some chicken noodle soup every once in a while.”
Lynette’s one-bedroom apartment, which has been described as a showplace for Ikea furniture, is in the same building as her mother’s. However, Flo recently had hip surgery and is recovering in another level of care until she is able to return to her apartment in independent living.
“We have a bit of a role reversal now,” said Flo. “But we are thankful to have each other.”
Lynette was quick to point out that the independent living apartments “aren’t your mother’s nursing home!” As a second-generation St. Catherine’s Village resident, she has — with the help of her neighbors — energized the atmosphere on her floor by creating a gathering place set up for card games or happy hour with a Keurig coffee bar and an Alexa that plays relaxing music. This casual gathering spot allows everyone to get together spontaneously.
“Planned activities are good, but we like to do our own thing, too,” said Lynette.
Flo agreed. “I worked as an activity director in a nursing home before … and I’ve had enough Bingo.”
Now, Flo crochets clothes for American Girl dolls and leads the singing at Sunday morning church service. And she plays the dulcimer — an Appalachian mountain string instrument. She also has a green thumb and is pretty handy.
Beyond their living arrangements, both women also appreciate the care and security of St. Catherine’s Village. No one gets past the front gate without authorization by a resident or staff. And St. Catherine’s Village emergency responders have first-hand experience addressing health needs.
“I am a Type 1 diabetic and contend with low glucose,” said Lynette. “In the wee hours one morning I called security and they — along with nursing — arrived to assist me. They were top notch, even better than 911. It’s reassuring to have a registered nurse and security available 24 hours each day.”
Lynette also had committed to having a service dog for her diabetes prior to coming to St. Catherine’s Village. Complying with the Americans with Disability Act, management happily worked with Lynette to ensure her service animal was welcome and accommodated. The one-year-old black lab, Prophet, was delivered in November.
“The hole in my heart that arose after my husband passed away has been filled by the people at St. Catherine’s Village,” said Lynette. “You never have to be alone if you don’t want to be.”
Even though there are on average 475 residents at St. Catherine’s Village, the staff makes each and every one feel like the most important person. It is the first all-inclusive life care community in Mississippi to earn accreditation by CARF-CCAC. This “commitment to excellence” seal signifies that the campus exceeds the standards established by the only international accrediting body for CCRCs.
“I can’t talk to anyone without finding out how much they love it here,” said Lynette.
St. Catherine’s Village is a service of St. Dominic Health Services, Inc. and is sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois. The private, gated community boasts 160 acres of wooded grounds, protected and beautiful outdoor spaces, and unparalleled facilities that provide the right care at the right time for those in their retirement years.
Speaking from experience — her mother-in-law went through every level of care at St. Catherine’s Village — Lynette noted that “at whatever stage or age, St. Catherine’s Village has something for everybody.”
To learn more about St. Catherine’s Village, log onto www.StCatherinesVillage.com or call (601) 856-0123 to schedule a tour.