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Widower finds family in residents and staff of senior living community.

Henry DiStefano and his wife were married for 61 years, and he cared for her through a serious illness during the last four. When Henry’s wife died in 2015, it was traumatic for him, and the Tampa native and father of two suddenly found himself alone in his house.

Resident Henry DiStefano discusses his life at Concordia Village of Tampa.

Henry felt comfortable immediately at Concordia Village of Tampa

“After sixty-one years, I was all by myself, although I had family in town,” Henry confirms. “I thought I could make it through the grieving process. I thought I could work it out myself. I soon found out I really couldn’t. I went to grieving support sessions at the hospice house, which helped, but I just had to go back home again.

“After a year and a half of being at home alone, and keeping up the house and the yard, as well as all the bills, I decided to look into senior living communities. I talked it over with my children, and we decided to go ahead and sell the house.”

Early on during Henry’s search for an independent living community, a friend told him about a place that he visited, but he didn’t feel welcomed. Henry then visited Concordia Village of Tampa, which is the former St. Joseph’s John Knox Village. He got a totally different vibe from the staff there.

“I talked to people in the Marketing department, and it was like finding some unknown family members because they were so considerate and understanding,” Henry describes. “They explained everything about Concordia Village, gave me some literature to read and compared what I was doing at home with what I would get at the community.

“I was impressed with their presentation, so I made arrangements to bring my daughter and discuss the next steps. That’s when I started the paperwork to become a resident of Concordia Village. I moved in on September 14, 2017.”

Home Helpers

Concordia Village of Tampa is a Life Plan community that includes independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term nursing care and short-term rehabilitation. It provides the broad network of services that allows seniors to age in place while remaining as independent as possible.

“As part of aging in place, we want to help our residents stay in the most independent level of care for as long as possible,” verifies Lisa Lyons, executive director of Concordia Village of Tampa. “If residents are in independent living but need a little help, we have home health services available on campus, so extra services can be provided in the resident’s apartment.

“As an example, the home health aide can come first thing in the morning, make coffee and make sure the resident takes their medications. The aide can come back at night to make sure the resident is tucked in for the night. The aide can assist with little things so the residents can, hopefully, stay independent for the rest of their lives. The aide can even walk pets.”

If residents need more help, they are guaranteed a place in the assisted living community at Concordia Village of Tampa, where they will receive a greater level of care. There, all meals are included, staff will check on the residents every few hours and assist the residents with things such as showers, dressing and medication administration. Concordia Village also has a skilled nursing facility, which offers 24-hour nursing care.

Life Plan communities such as Concordia Village of Tampa are not uncommon, but Concordia Village stands out from the rest due to its operating efficiency and high financial rating. It’s unique in another way, as well.

“With Concordia Village, as with any senior living community, residents pay an entrance fee and a monthly service fee,” explains Lisa. “Other communities put the entrance fees into their operations budgets, so if the time comes when a refund is due to a resident or their estate, the money may or may not be available.

“Concordia Village is different. We have a separate account, so if something should happen, money is always available for refunds. This way, the residents know they have financial security with us.”

To Lisa, the residents of Concordia Village of Tampa are the community’s greatest asset. Many of them become significant contributors to life at the community. Often, residents tell her they wish they had moved in five years earlier. For many residents, including Henry, being with others their own age is critical.

“Socialization is just one aspect of a person’s wellbeing, especially for someone whose spouse has passed away,” relates Lisa. “It gives that person a good support system during a difficult time. It’s wonderful to see.”

When Henry moved in, he felt at home right away. He is comfortable in his independent living apartment, and amazed by the attitudes of the people and the extent of things to do at the community.

“The staff and the residents are so friendly, it’s unbelievable,” Henry reports. “This was the best move for me after spending that year and a half by myself.

“They have lots to do at Concordia Village. I thought I was going to be resting, but I’m involved in so many activities that there’s not a lot of time to rest. I think that’s the best part of living here.

“My activities mainly involve exercise. They have classroom exercises, which I participate in, that are conducted by someone from physical therapy. They have water aerobics, which I never thought I’d be able to do, but I can do moves in the pool that I can’t do in the classroom. They have Tai Chi, which I also do. Then on my own, I walk the beautiful, scenic grounds.”

There are other activities going on at Concordia Village of Tampa as well, such as bingo, movies and presentations by guest speakers. They also host a program called Licensing on Wheels,. That’s an opportunity for residents to renew their driver’s licenses, get identification cards and do other business with the Licensing Bureau without having to go downtown.

“They have shopping trips to Publix® and other stores, and on Sundays, they take residents to the different area churches,” Henry adds. “They can also provide
transportation to medical appointments.

“As a resident, I pay a monthly fee that includes some of my meals, housekeeping, laundry service for my sheets and towels, and garbage. All these I feel are a benefit because they were things I had to do myself when I lived alone. I tell my friends the reason I like living at Concordia Village is because I love it.”

“Can’t Go Wrong”

When Henry lived at home, he liked to work outside in his yard, and gardening was one of his hobbies. Concordia Village of Tampa wanted to maintain Henry’s interest in yardwork, so the community’s Grounds Committee invited him to become a member.

“My job with the committee is to inspect the community’s grounds,” Henry clarifies. “As I walk around, if I see anything that needs attention, I take a picture of it or make a note. The problem gets brought up when the committee meets, and then it gets corrected.”

Henry tells his friends that Concordia Village of Tampa is where they should live because of the financial security and never-ending activities. The staff is wonderful as well. He singles out the Marketing department, which he says did a great job of describing the community to him and making him feel welcomed.

“You can’t find better people than the staff in the Marketing department,” he says. “When I talked with them, I felt like they knew exactly what I was going through. That’s another reason I chose Concordia Village. I was made to feel comfortable and a lot better than being alone for a year and a half.

“When I first moved in, I mingled with the residents without even knowing their names, and they were so friendly. They introduced themselves and made me feel part of the family. With Concordia Village of Tampa, you just can’t go wrong.”

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