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Helping seniors a labor of love for new Rockwall assisted living center director

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By J.J. Smith. It only takes a minute or two after listening to Shaye Tipton (pictured) talk about how much she loves assisting and taking care of senior citizens to realize that serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Rockwall’s new Arbor House Assisted Living Center is not just a job, but a genuine labor of love.

Growing up she said she had a close relationship with her loving grandparents. When they chose to move in to a “swanky assisted living center in Ft. Worth,” as Tipton put it, she said she was so impressed with the facility that she remembers thinking “How cool it would be to take care of seniors in places like this for a living!”

In fact, it was precisely Tipton’s enthusiastic, compassionate attitude towards assisting senior citizens that caused Heath resident Pat Ryan to recently decide to become the second person to reserve a suite at the soon-to-open Arbor House for her 84-year-old mother, Grace Richardson, who now needs more assistance than Ryan can provide.

“I was so impressed with Shaye on the phone,” said Ryan, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant for over 30 years. “Her heart is really in this.” 

“I was even more impressed with her when I met her in person, as well as Community Relations director Beverly Deemer. They both obviously care so much about seniors that it didn’t take me long to decide that this would be a wonderful home for my mother nearby, where she can get all of the care she needs when I can’t be there.”

 “I love my mother to death and don’t ever want her to feel she’s not welcome in our home in Heath,” she continued. “I’ll still see her 3-4 times a week, but I still have to work and can’t always be there for her.”

Ryan said it’s just not practical that she live at home anymore.

“As she advances in age, she needs help that I just can’t provide. She has a walker, and she can’t walk long distances. She’s fallen twice recently and I don’t know what we would have done if I or our family would have been away. It takes the paramedics thirty minutes to get here from Rockwall, plus how would they get through the gate? Assisted living is now necessary.”

“The most important thing, though, is that she’s taken care of properly when I’m not around. I frequently fly overnights.”

After meeting with Tipton and Deemer several times, and receiving a complete tour, Ryan said she now feels completely comfortable that her mother will receive all the proper care she needs at Arbor House, which is scheduled to open in mid-June.  

“I’m totally impressed and can only say good things about Shaye, Beverly and Arbor House,” she said. “And I’ve talked to others in the community who say the same things.”

The 86-unit facility is located just south of Presbyterian Hospital on Horizon Rd, at 5250 Medical Dr. Arbor House owns nine other assisted living centers in Texas and Oklahoma.

It is one of the few assisted living centers in the DFW area which provide three levels of care, from independent living up to constant 24-hour care.

The facility also provides Memory Care areas and specially-trained staff designated for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Tipton started the service herself after a retired resident with whom she was friends suddenly went from having an alert mind to playing on the floor with an imaginary dog overnight.  

Ryan said she’s thrilled that she was able to reserve a suite early at the new Rockwall location because she could arrange for an apartment right around the corner from the dining room, which her mother really likes.

“She was so happy when she saw Arbor House and her room,” said Ryan. “Now all she’ll have to do is walk around the corner each day to eat and visit with friends, probably about baseball. She’s a really big St. Louis Cardinals fan, since that’s where she’s from!”

Ryan said that she’s very impressed with how beautiful Arbor House is and with how many amenities and services it provides for such a comparatively low price.

There are no long-term contracts, just a month-to-month leases for apartment-style suites.

“You’re not obligated to pay anything further than the monthly rent. There’s no annual lease,” the flight attendant said.  “I like that a lot!”

“Arbor House is not expensive and doesn’t require residents to pay lots of money upfront, like a nursing home does,” she continued. “My mom has friends in St. Louis who were required to pay $120,000 down and even more per month and they aren’t going to receive anywhere near the services that my mother will receive.”

Each apartment offers a kitchenette – with microwave, full-sized refrigerator, sink and pantry; emergency call system, optional cable TV and high-speed Internet; individual air conditioning and heating units; smoke detectors, lockable front doors, security system and private mail boxes. There’s also a movie theater, activity rooms, whirlpool bath, outdoor courtyard and social programs. 

 Monthly lease rates range from $2800 to $4100 for one person, plus $750 to $1350 for two persons.

“I was really quite surprised to learn all that my mom will receive for less than $3,000 per month,” said Ryan.  

Amenities include on-site staff 24 hours a day, medication assistance, individualized services, restaurant-style dining, three meals a day and snack, special diet accommodations, weekly laundry and housekeeping services, transportation to shopping, churches and doctor’s appointments.

Assistance with personal care such as bathing, dressing, grooming and walking; plus access to rehabilitative therapies, are offered.

Pets under 20 lbs. are also welcome.

Monthly suite rentals are currently still available at Arbor House, but are renting quickly, according to Tipton.

For rental information, call 214-678-9959 or visit: www.arborhouse4u.com.

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