Assisted Living

30 Jul 2013

Promoting the well-being of older citizens means getting prepared now


In 2010, the first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65. America is aging at a rapid pace. According to an August 1, 2011, article in The Washington Post, the nation will see a rapid increase in the nation’s elderly in the next decade. The AARP Policy Institute reported two years ago that there were more than 50,000 licensed residential care settings in the United States. Lutheran Homes of South Carolina (LHSC) is among those statistics.

Franke at Seaside traces its beginnings to the evangelical Lutheran Charities Society of Charleston, when it was first founded in 1892 on Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston. In 1908 the Evangelical Lutheran Charities Society, now known as Lutheran Homes of South Carolina, Inc., purchased and renovated the Adger family home and soon the Jacob Washington Franke Home welcomed its first guests. In 1996, the Franke Home became Franke at Seaside and moved to its current Rifle Range Road location – a 42-acre tract within the Seaside Farms planned development in the beautiful town of Mount Pleasant.  Since that time, the church’s ministry has grown to provide broad continuum of care as well as innovative wellness programs and services.

The not-for-profit ministry of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America – LHSC – now owns and manages five continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), hospice and non-medical home service agencies.  All are united by a single mission statement, according to Denise Dickinsen, Vice President of Planned Growth and Development, which is: “Believing in the presence of God, the value of human life, and the dignity of the individual―to promote the well-being of older adults by providing residential, health care, and hospice services.”

Between the assisted living offerings of Franke at Seaside, April Dillon, Community Outreach Director, explains there are 46 assisted living suites with a variety of floor plans and common gathering places for social events and activities. An additional 22 assisted living units with a secured interior garden courtyard are dedicated to their Reunion memory support program, and is designed specifically to meet the needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related concerns.

Dillon notes that the main purpose of assisted living is to give residents support as needed, while at the same time, encouraging as much independence as possible. Each program is supervised by a licensed nurse, who works with family and caregivers to create an individual care plan for each resident, so staff can provide just the amount of help when needed with daily living tasks such as dressing, bathing, hygiene, and medications. She says, “We want to give them just the right amount of help, at the right time.”

Located minutes away from beautiful beaches and historic downtown Charleston, the Seaside Farms neighborhood offers a broad variety of shops, restaurants, walking paths, and many other amenities within close distance of the campus. Throughout are also places to sit and relax – on the front porch, near the lagoon, and in the courtyard.

Franke at Seaside encourages involvement and independence for those residents who are active. The monthly calendar is brimming with various opportunities. Some residents are a part of such groups as the Franke Bowlers or the Franke Chorus. At the on-site Rodenberg Chapel, Franke hosts the Remington Concert Series, Piccolo Spoleto Concert Series, and other events. Residents can choose their level of participation.

 “Franke is unique in that nearly all of our programs and services are under one roof. Residents can go from their apartment to the dining room, activities, beauty shop, or therapy appointments without ever having to go outside—we even have an onsite pharmacy right here.” says Dillon. “Plus, if family members live in separate areas, on campus due to their own care needs, it’s easier for them to visit, share meals and attend programs together.”

Meals and refreshments are included in the monthly fee, as is the chance to participate in Franke’s award-winning wellness programs and activities. Franke will provide basic furnishings upon request, yet residents and families are encouraged to bring their own furniture and belongings to personalize their living space.

Says Sandy Stoll, licensed health care administrator at Franke: “There is a real sense of community at Franke.  Residents form relationships which are meaningful and lasting.  Our staff contributes to this level of comfort by offering a quick smile, a good word, and immediate response to the needs of each member.  Being at Franke feels like being at home with family.”

In order to best assist residents, especially those who live with memory concerns, staff are certified in special dementia training. Some of the training centers on the changes that occur as memory declines, how changes impact behavior, and how to best communicate. Franke offers Reunion — a dedicated assisted living memory support program for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related memory concerns.

Besides the assisted living opportunities at Franke, there is also a new flexible assisted living experience, which provides families with an opportunity to – as Dickinsen points out, “ease into” full-time assisted living. “The caregiving families have a chance to have a break from their responsibilities for the day, while the individual has a chance to learn what assisted living is like.” Then, if the individual decides on full-time care, he or she can stay at the facility. The flexible assisted living service, explains Dickinsen, is available 365 days a year, seven days a week. If necessary, early arrival and departure times can be arranged if a family member has a job, for example. Plus, there are opportunities for extended and overnight stays so that an individual can truly get a feel for the assisted living experience. Just as some services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies are available to full-time residents of LHSC’s facilities, they are also available to those using the flexible assisted living service. An extra fee is charged for these and other services, including beauty or barber.

Flexible assisted living is just that – flexible. Pricing starts at about $70 per day, with a minimum stay of three days a week. The situation can be customized to fit the needs of the individual. For example, an individual can stay a few days, a few nights, weekly, monthly – whatever meets the needs of the family and the individual. Those benefitting from flexible assisted living enjoy the same benefits of full-time assisted living residents.

Dickinsen adds that when the aging population must consider a new way to live, it can be a frightening prospect.  “Lutheran Homes approach to care is that when someone is looking for a place, they are really looking for more than just a place to live,” says Dickinsen. “It’s the people that create that sense of home, and we achieve that. We create a sense of home where every person is valued.”

She believes LHSC’s foundation of faith permeates every fiber of the organization. “It’s really a calling for many of the people who work here – and that shows.” 843-856-4700,

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