by Susan Mikula Campbell
Anne Gonzalez has been a resident of the new ElderWood Assisted Living at Crestwood for about three months now, and she loves it.
"The staff is wonderful, from the nurses on down to the cooks and cleaning people. There's always someone at your beck and call whenever you need them," she said. "I love everybody, and I've made a lot of friends."
ElderWood now offers a trio of senior living arrangements, right next door to each other, off Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield.
There's the original nursing home, ElderWood Health Care at Crestwood, which offers subacute care and rehabilitation, skilled nursing, memory care and respite care. Crestwood Commons was added several years ago, providing independent living in apartments and individual patio homes for seniors age 62 and older.
The assisted living facility, a combination of a converted wing of the skilled nursing facility and new construction, opened in October 2011. A grand opening was held last month.
Assisted Living at Crestwood offers the New York State-certified Assisted Living Program for residents who are medically qualified. Round-the-clock nursing supervision and medication management is provided to residents who have their own private or semi-private rooms and enjoy furnished common areas. Meals are served restaurant-style. Planned activities and outings are available. Other services include laundry, housekeeping and assistance with bathing and dressing.
Most of the residents are singles, but there are four married couples living there as well.
Gonzalez's children researched 12 different assisted living facilities before deciding on Crestwood.
"It was kind of tough. Mom was in her home for 50-something years," said Jeff Gonzalez of Lewiston. "There's all the services you need here. It's perfect for Mom."
Gonzalez's room is decorated with her own furniture, and is accented by photos and mementoes from her old home.
Son Nick Gonzalez said his mother now has more friends and social interaction than she did in her own house - "When she was at home, she was on her own."
Anne Gonzalez, a former Town of Niagara resident, was manager of the information center for the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau for 15 years. She likes the friendly, family atmosphere at Crestwood, where many of the residents originally came from Niagara County and everybody seems to know somebody who knows somebody you know, she said.
"You become very close to people in here," she said.
"We've had so many reunions here since we opened, between residents who have reconnected with old friends and staff who grew up together or with the residents' children," said Administrator Mimi Piciullo. "Crestwood is their new neighborhood."
Robert M. Chur, president and CEO of ElderWood, said Crestwood makes the eighth assisted living facility in the ElderWood organization.
Construction of ElderWood Assisted Living at Crestwood benefitted by a grant from the Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law encouraging health care organizations to increase options for assisted living care.
Among the special guests at the grand opening were state Assemblyman John Ceretto and Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe.
"It's a beautiful complex," Ceretto said. "When you hang around seniors you feel like a child again. ... It's nice to have a lot of moms and dads around you."
Cliffe brought greetings on behalf of his Town Board and encouraged Crestwood residents and staff to take advantage of activities at the town's community and senior centers.
He also praised the new facility.
"Is there anything more important than giving our seniors dignity and quality of life as they age?" he said.