The oldest of 12 children and mother of five, Doverwood Village resident Bernice Gilliam is 91 years old and full of life. You can spot her often in the dining room chatting with fellow residents. Once a week her daughter, Linda, brings Bernice’s five-month-old great granddaughter Sophie for a visit.
“There’s pretty much a line up to hold Sophie,” jokes Linda. “Mom’s only been here since November but she already made a lot of friends and is in some sort of coffee group on Main Street. While my sister and I always call every evening to say good night, we don’t dare call on bingo night anymore. She won’t even answer her phone.”
A Hillandale facility wasn’t the first, second or third choice. It was the only choice according to Linda.
“Mom came to Hillandale first to Chesterwood Village for rehab because she kept falling in her apartment at a senior living facility. She constantly called me for help and then she’d get hospitalized.
“The staff was extremely attentive during her rehab at Chesterwood and always gave me full reports on mom’s progress. I knew immediately that a Hillandale facility was the only solution. The staff is as caring as mom has been all her life. We like that it’s a family-owned business. You don’t see people sitting around in wheelchairs or watching TV all day like at other places. The staff figures out what residents like to do and then get them involved in activities to the extent of their abilities. When it was time to move mom in fulltime I said I don’t care how long the waiting list is; it has to be a Hillandale facility. Fortunately we only had to wait a few months.”
Bernice is tough. She’s been a widow and the central figure in her family since the love of her life passed away at the age of 65 in 1992. They married young at 18. He lied about his age to join the military during World War II, serving as a sniper with the famous C-Company portrayed in the film series Band of Brothers. Bernice waited patiently for his return.
A stay-at-home mom, Bernice dedicated her life to both raising her children and volunteerism. That same quality for reaching out to others is still alive as Bernice becomes increasingly more involved at Doverwood.
“We love to bring the grandkids and have a bite to eat together with mom on Main Street,” explains Linda. “Mom is proud to show the family around and introduce us to her new friends.”
“At the same time the staff is giving mom what she always gave everyone around her for years: loving care, a watchful eye on her daily routine and an assigned caregiver to immediately lean on when she needs help.
“What more could a family want for their mother/grandmother/great-grandmother?”