August Q+A With Merrill Gardens President Bill Pettit

Merrill Gardens President Bill Pettit recently sat down and talked about how Senior Housing is changing lives, for both residents and their families.

We recently had the opportunity to spend time speaking with residents and family members about their experience at Merrill Gardens.  Feedback like this is critical to us so we can ensure that we are living up to our mission of providing a vibrant lifestyle for our residents. We videotaped our recent conversations and you can find them on our website at www.merrillgardens.com.  We wanted to share one family member’s story with you.

Gary Moogk’s experience with his mother Nancy is a pretty typical one.  He helped her move to Merrill Gardens last year and before the move their struggle was similar to what many adult children who are caring for a parent face. Moogk’s story may help others who are searching for a way to help a parent make a change.

Moogk says that his mother was a caregiver for her husband for many years before he passed away.  Even though she was healthy, Gary felt she was virtually a prisoner in her condominium as she took care of her spouse.  After her husband died, Nancy continued to live alone.  Things were OK for awhile but soon her health and quality of life began to decline.  It was difficult for Moogk and other family members to check on her in person more than once a week.  When he called his mother to see how she was doing, he would learn that she had not eaten anything but a piece of toast that day because she was too weak to leave the couch.

“This is like whoa, this is not working.  So we would rush over there and the house was a mess and she looked terrible.  But you don’t know that because there is nobody there looking after her,” says Moogk.

The family realized they needed to make a change and they began to look for senior housing.  Moogk said it took his mom awhile to come around to the idea. She was pretty set in the belief that senior housing was like a nursing home and it took some time to get her to agree to even visit any communities.  Moogk and his family convinced her to at least check it out.  His advice for other adult children is to help parents overcome objections.

“What they think they know about senior living is so far from the truth it’s not even funny. Try to get them out, make appointments at three or four different places and just spend the time.  Take an hour each weekend for four weekends and let them see what the real deal is.  That’s the only way to get them to change their mind,” says Moogk.

His mother chose Merrill Gardens at Queen Anne and it has been a good fit.

“About a month after she moved in she wrote a thank you note to my daughter.  She said she felt like Eloise at the Plaza Hotel, like she had walked through a magic door,” said Moogk. “She had been depressed and she started getting lively again, she is a bridge player and she now she is able to play bridge five days a week.  Everything is very positive and she has never gone back to the emergency room again with any health issues and that’s huge for us.”

The best part for Moogk is seeing his mother happy again.

“It’s night and day.  This takes her back five or six years in our minds.  She is happy almost every time we see her and it makes me feel wonderful.  We don’t have to worry about her everyday and she is a happy person instead of a grumpy, sick person.  The peace of mind is hard to explain,” says Moogk.

Gary says his mother is now a big advocate for senior housing.  She has a simple message for the new residents that move into her community, telling them “this is not a home, this is your home.”  And that is exactly how we want all of our residents to feel.

Merrill Gardens is a family owned company based in Seattle.  Parent R.D. Merrill is a timber company with roots that go back over 100 years.  The Merrill family started Merrill Gardens 16 years ago and it’s now the largest senior housing company in Washington with 22 communities.  Pettit has been with the company since its inception.

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