Living beyond assistance
As this week is National Assisted Living Week, the Lahontan Valley News was invited to meet Doris Poindexter, a long-running volunteer turned assisted living resident who continues to serve.
Poindexter resides at the Highland Village of Fallon, a nonprofit retirement community with a variety of services on its campus, which includes three levels of care: independent living, assisted living and the skilled nursing facility.
“I hate to do nothing, and I do a lot of nothing as it is,” Poindexter pointed out with a grin.
The five-year Highland volunteer, who will turn 93 next month, became a resident a few years ago, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to contribute to the facility and the people who reside in it. She also noted she enjoys the freedom she still retains as a resident.
Poindexter is a former teacher born in Iowa before moving to San Diego then Portland, Ore., then on to Nevada, where one of her son’s and his wife reside. She has four sons as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she said. She also used to volunteer at E.C. Best Elementary in a first-grade classroom.
“It was a worthwhile experience,” she said.
Later on, she said her son urged her to continue to do something, so she applied to Highland as a volunteer. She began assisting the activities department, serving coffee and treats six mornings a week from 9-11:30 a.m. and sometimes stays longer. She added smiling the seventh day is a long one.
The resident and volunteer said she takes three walks every day and takes long walks inside when it’s too hot out or there’s inclement weather. She explained she’ll walk when she’s bored or feeling sorry for herself and it helps greatly.
The full-of-life woman also explained how she was in recovery at Highland for a couple months after she had a fall.
“Even when I was a patient, they were really good to me,” she recalled of her skilled nursing stay. “They’re doing their duty. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Poindexter admitted she probably sticks her nose where she shouldn’t but that she wants others to know she cares.
“If I don’t feel good, I want somebody to realize,” she said of how she would feel. “Not baby me but show concern.”
Claudia Akau, who works in activities and housekeeping said of Poindexter, “we love her.”
“She does so much for everyone,” said resident Roxy Behrendsen. “We all love Doris; she is the best … We love her even more than her volunteer work. We love her because she’s Doris.”
Behrendsen added her friend is a great listener, patiently listening to all their stories — and keeps information private. Behrendsen also said her fellow resident is always straightening up and even takes on large, tedious projects to help out such as organizing an enormous amount of different colored construction paper with her.
“It’s a pleasant place to be,” Poindexter said of her new home. “It’s peaceful and quiet … It’s well run and it’s well taken care of. I don’t have any worries here.”
Poindexter added it’s like the residents don’t have last names.
“Everyone calls us by our first names,” she said of the staff.
Poindexter also explained how her cleaning, laundry and other needs are met as well as mentioned how this week there’s a trip to Jerry’s Restaurant, a matinee, ice cream social, entertainment and a barbecue in honor of National Assisted Living Week.
“You can be busy if you want to,” she said and encouraged her peers to take the first step of becoming involved. “We think we’re not capable; we have to think better of ourselves.”