Aging in place gracefully

Good Shepherd has a place for all, regardless of the level of care needed

Sandy Dilts, a staff member at Good Sheperd, shares a special moment with resident, Leo Weyer, at the 2015 Summertime celebration. Contributed photo

Good Shepherd Community in Sauk Rapids has all the senior living and health care services needed to gracefully age in place, regardless of the level of care that is needed. Good Shepherd has a full continuum of care, from patio home living to subsidized and market rate senior apartments (with or without assisted living services), a home health care agency, memory care cottages, and a skilled nursing facility.

Who better to talk about aging gracefully at Good Shepherd Community than a few residents who have been doing it for years, Ida Sass (99), Lucy Siercks (105) and Phil Stavos (94).

Ida Sass, age 99, wears her 50th wedding anniversary dress at the 2015 Wedding Fashion Show. Contributed photo

Ida Sass will celebrate her 100th birthday on Dec. 31, 2015. She has been a tenant in the Shepherd Court Apartments at Good Shepherd for about 12 years now. Recently, she needed a short stay in the nursing home down the hall but was back to her apartment when her health improved.

“I was raised on a farm, and I have been active all my life,” said Ida.

Before moving to Good Shepherd, Ida lived in the Vergas/Perham area.

“And when I moved here I thought ‘why stop now,’” she said.

Not only has she been the president of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) for 12 years, she has also been a regular at the exercise classes held twice a week. When there was an opening as exercise instructor she decided to take the reigns, and she has led the classes ever since. In 2014, Ida had perfect attendance at the exercise classes, making it to all 104 classes.

If that wasn’t enough, Ida also participates in many of the activities

“I guess staying active has been my secret to living a long life,” she said. “I also take vitamins every day, and I think that has helped.”

As for Good Shepherd, she couldn’t be more pleased that she found it.

“Good Shepherd is the best place in the world,” she smiled. “It really is.”

Lucy Siercks moved to Good Shepherd Community in 2011. She soon turned 106 years old!

“My secret (to longevity)? I guess I didn’t drink or smoke… too much, and I didn’t have any kids, so I didn’t have to worry about them. That might have helped, ” she said.

Lucy likes to knit, crochet and paint. She recently had a few oil paintings displayed in the Good Shepherd Art Show.

“I also like to play cards (whist, rummy and bridge), play bingo and gossip,” she smiled.

Lucy grew up in Beach, N.D., and remembers the hard work living on a farm, especially during the years of the Depression and Dust Bowl.

“I could do everything on the farm but milk a cow,” she said. “I tried milking cows once and got kicked, and I never tried it again.”

There were several animals on the farm, including a horse. That was her main mode of transportation in the early years.

“We used to ride our horse to school in the country,” she said. “And we would take the horses and cruise for boys.”

Phil Stavos, age 94, can often be found working in the gardens at Good Shepherd. Contributed Photo

Phil Stavos turned 94 years old in April, but you would never guess it. He is more active than most 60 year olds.

“I don’t feel that old,” he said.

Phil was a medic in the Army during WWII, farmed for about 20 years and was the building manager at St. Cloud State University for another 20+ years. When he retired, his work changed… but he didn’t stop working.

“Don’t give up work,” said Stavos, when asking about his secret to living a long, healthy life.

Stavos is the “Mr. Fixit” at Good Shepherd, building or repairing whatever needs fixing — including more than 40 clocks throughout the campus.

“I was taught on the farm that if something was broken, you fix it. You don’t throw it away and buy a new one,” he said.

Phil is one of the most active volunteers at Good Shepherd Community. He helps whereever and whenever he can. He has helped at trade shows, volunteer fairs and a variety of other functions.

“He once gave me his calendar and said ‘fill it up,’” said Jodi Speicher, vice president of sales/marketing at Good Shepherd.

Phil has also spent his time volunteering. He has donated his time to reading to kids at Pleasantview Elementary the last 4-5 years and has also volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club, showing the kids how to garden… one of his true passions.

“I have always liked to get my hands dirty. I’m always digging in the dirt,” he said. “I love it. And I think it is good for you.”

Phil has helped maintain several community gardens on the Good Shepherd campus.

“Mostly vegetables and a few flowers,” he said.

Phil has been a tenant in the Shepherd Court Apartments for about five years. Prior to that, he lived at the Good Shepherd Campus in Becker.

“I really love it here,” he said. I have worked with a lot of people in my life, and this is the best staff I have ever worked with. That’s a fact.”

Good Shepherd Community sits on a 30-acre campus in Sauk Rapids. Besides the senior living options, it also has a home health care agency, memory care cottages, and a skilled nursing facility. In addition, they provide the home delivered meals program to seniors in Sauk Rapids and Sartell.

Life enrichment is a big deal across all of Good Shepherd’s entities. Their activity calendars are full of educational, entertaining, spiritual and social programming. A typical week of activities includes exercise classes, trips to shops and parks in the area, card games, sing-alongs, movies and games.

Some of the more recent memorable events include a Father’s Day Car Show, a Wedding Fashion Show and a fun day at Summertime by George. The campus environment offers the tenants and residents of Good Shepherd a wide variety of amenities, such as a movie theater, a coffee and gift shop, libraries and plenty of space for walking.

Shepherd of Grace Senior Community, a second location, was opened in Becker in 2007. Shepherd of Grace has apartments, assisted living and memory care. It is attached to Grace Lutheran Church by a community center, which they share. Grace’s pastor serves as the chaplain.

The newest project at Good Shepherd is Shepherd’s Ridge patio homes. They built the infrastructure to put in eight duplexes (16 units). In 2013, they built four units, and the rest will be built as financial means become available, said Bruce Glanzer, president/CEO of Good Shepherd, who added the patio homes have a “really cool design,” with great, functional living space, no steps and a big, heated garage.

If you would like to learn more about Good Shepherd Community and tour any of their facilities, call the Welcome Center at 320-259-3476 or stop by the Good Shepherd Community campus at 1115 4th Avenue North, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379.

If you would like to learn more about the Shepherd of Grace Senior Community, call Carol at 763-262-8000. It is located at 11175 27th Avenue SE, Becker, MN 55308.

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