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It was a cold, windy and busy Friday, with a sliver of snow blowing sideways through the air, and people rushing through Smiths.
As I was leaving the store, I noticed very old and frail lady (whom I call Kim) standing outside with her little shopping bag leaning on her cane, and shivering.
When I asked her if she needs any help, she told me that she has already called Aspen Ridge to pick her up to no avail, and she was concerned to miss the ride if she went inside. She asked me if I could call them on her behalf and find out when they will arrive. I suggested that she stay inside the store to keep warm, so that I can call Aspen Ridge and keep an eye for her ride.
The receptionist at Aspen Ridge pleaded ignorance about receiving a call from Kim, and told me that they will send someone to pick her up. Then she called me a few minutes later, probably to verify that this was a real request.
At that point, I asked her if her ride was on its way, the answer to which was not yet. A few minutes later, I went inside to check on Kim, and I noticed a younger lady with her scooter and shopping bag on the phone with Aspen Ridge, going through the same scenario.
She was told that they have 66 residents, cannot get to all of them at the same time, and that we should have Kim go inside and wait for them.
Apparently, they did not realize that at that age, standing up might be a chore for Kim.
She asked me if I would be willing to drive Kim to Aspen Ridge, to which I gladly obliged. As I pulled in, I noticed the Aspen Ridge van approaching the store.
At that point, I was ready to drive Kim myself, and send the driver back to Aspen Ridge. But Kim and her friend thought now that her ride has arrived, she should take it.
The driver and the helper who was in the back seat, did not even bother to get out of the vehicle to help Kim, or put her seat belt on.
My parting words to her were, “I know where not to stay when I get to your age,” to which she responded, “I don’t blame you,” as she was saying goodbye.
I do not take any fault with the receptionist, the driver, or the helper of Aspen Ridge. I do, however, see this as a reflection of the nonchalant attitude of the management of this institution towards the elderly, not realizing that they will be in Kim’s shoes at some point in their lives.
I have no doubt that if you go for a tour, they will put up a good show.
Their website says: “At Aspen Ridge Lodge, you or your loved one will experience assisted living at its very best ... A place where our first priority is your lifestyle...where big city professionalism meets small town friendliness ... A place like no other.”
I seriously hope that, what Kim went through was an isolated incident.