About the Founder
I was born in 1956. Ready or not, fellow Baby Boomers, here IT comes! The ‘IT’ is the AGING we are experiencing …we are in this together. Come join the club!
Founder and administrator, DG Linton Gridley tells her story, “I realized that I needed to get ready for the AGING process when the responsibility of caring for my sick in-laws was thrust upon me, and then the sickness and death of my mother happened in the same year!
“That year felt as if I had been parachuted into the middle of a jungle, and I had to find my way out, alone, fighting my way through the thick jungle growth (the confusing world of health care) to find civilization. I never did find civilization. That is why I quit my job as a middle school teacher and summer programs director in 2008 in order to focus all my time and energy on my quest for a civilized way to care for the aging and sick in our society.
“After two and a half years of studying and researching at the University of Kentucky where I earned a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration in 2010; three years of working, networking and volunteering locally with people who work in senior services and government agencies that serve the aging in our area; and two years of writing policies and procedures in collaboration with healthcare professionals, it was time to open Aging With Grace, Your Best Independent Life Club. Our company was formed in 2010, serving our first members in 2015. We have since grown and improved to what we are today: serving over 100 members at home and at the Fountain of Youth Clubhouse…and we recently began case management services in 2021.”
Welcome to civilization! Welcome to The Club!
Inspiration behind Aging With Grace:
My entire life has been a preparation for this mission of improving the lives of seniors. As I child I spent my summers with my dear grandmother, who was a home care nurse. I accompanied her into the homes of the elderly in her county. She also provided transportation for seniors who could not drive and people even came to her home for advice and help with their health. She worked at the county senior center one summer and I went with her every day. I loved the people she served and they loved me. I remember my grandmother saying to me: “As you are, so once was I”….in other words, I was young like you once and you will be old like me someday, so keep that in mind as you interact with older folks. When I was in Girl Scouts our troop visited a veteran’s nursing home to sing Christmas Carols. It was dingy, dark, stinky, and from the hallway I saw the naked backside of a wrinkled, yellow skinned man lying on his side in bed and no one seemed to care. I wanted to cover him up but I could not.
My parents divorced when I was in high school and my father remarried a nurse. I lived with them. When I was 18 I enrolled in nursing school and took a job in a brand new nursing home. Back in those days, CNAs received on the job training. They put me with two seasoned CNAs and to me they seemed like criminals. They swore at the patients and treated them roughly. I complained to my step mother and she said, “That is just the way it is.” I quit as soon as I started and I remember thinking, I am young and powerless now, but someday I want to change this badness to good. I changed my major to education.
My dear grandmother hated nursing homes and told me that she never wanted to be in one. She cared for her own mother in her home (they lived side by side in a duplex) until she passed at age 93. My dear grandmother suffered a major stroke 15 years after that and was put in a nursing home. At that time, I was teaching full time and had 3 little boys to care for but wished I could take care of her. If her living will had been honored, she would have passed peacefully after the stroke. Instead, she had a feeding tube, could not talk, and could only move one arm. All the gifts I brought to her in the nursing home were stolen. The nursing home reeked of old urine and feces. I was so depressed to see her suffer and was relieved for her when she passed after 3 years there.
My mother always wanted to be a nurse and practiced on my 3 siblings and me. Her older sister, my aunt Maureen was a registered nurse in another state, and my mother admired her greatly. After my parents divorced, my mother moved to Florida to be near her mother and her sister the RN. She went back to school and earned her license as a practical nurse as soon as she could (after her youngest child was in school) and took a job in a nursing home. The nursing home where my mother worked was horrendous. I remember visiting her there and hearing people moan and cry out. One lady grabbed me and looked at me, pleading with her eyes, crying “Help me, help me, please, help me!”. My mother wanted me to go to work with her to help her, because there was not enough staff to help everyone, but I needed an income. I was working my way through college. I suggested she call the churches in the area. My mother quit the nursing home and went into business for herself providing home care. She worked in that capacity up until she was diagnosed with end stage cancer. She died 2 months later. Her home care patients loved her and trusted her and she loved them and talked of them fondly always.
After I quit my job at Sayre School, I thought at first I would work to improve the delivery of services in nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, or rehabilitation centers, or whatever they are called. After much reading, research, pilot projects, internships, and data mining, I came to the conclusion that there is no hope for that mode of delivery. By their very design, they are doomed for failure.
Our culture needs an attitude adjustment. Older people have value. Older people are you in the future. They are not a separate species. They are more important than dogs and cats, on whom our culture lavishes much money, time and energy. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. So what do you want for yourself? Do you want to stay in a nursing home? Don’t be in denial, thinking ” it won’t happen to me”. The statistics are that 66% of us (it is higher for women) will need some long term care (which could be in a nursing home) before we die. Just ask anyone cognizant in a nursing home. None of them thought it would happen to them.
Aging With Grace is my answer to how to deliver needed services to seniors for the highest quality of life. It is what I want for myself. It is what I want for my children. God willing, they will be old someday.