Community: That’s what mattered most to Nancy Steeper and her daughter, as they sought a new home for Nancy after she left Legacy Lodge, the recently closed assisted living facility in Jackson.
Luckily, they were able to find it nearby in Dubois at Warm Valley Lodge.
Best of all, their new Lodge includes the most important members of Nancy’s former community at Legacy: Charlie Edwards, who moved in on Apr. 19, (the same day Nancy arrived), and Jim Janak, who came five days later.
The term “assisted living” fits the Dubois facility, explained Nancy’s daughter Annie Morita. “Warm Valley Lodge really is for living. It’s for people who want to create a community in their golden years,” said Morita.
Nancy had never been to Dubois before she visited Warm Valley Lodge. Coming through the front door, she was comforted by the large stone fireplace with the cathedral windows and the view of the mountains beyond.
“I was immediately taken by the place. I knew this was it! I came home and said to Annie, I want you to go and visit,” said Steeper.
All three friends had left Legacy Lodge to live with family a few months before it closed, driven out by the loneliness brought on by quarantines due to COVID cases among the staff. Residents had to eat meals alone in their rooms. Activities were discontinued. Nancy was desperate to leave, but she could see Charlie and Jim only once a week, at get-togethers arranged by the families.
Charlie’s son-in-law knew about Warm Valley Lodge because a friend works there, and he and Charlie decided to take the 90-minute drive over Togwotee Pass for a visit. They told the other families about the move, and Nancy quickly drove over to check it out.
The Western feel and the stunning view weren’t the only first impressions that impressed Nancy. “There is a feeling of warmth here that is just amazing,” she said. “I’m pretty warm myself, and I thought that I could contribute to that.”
Nancy knew that her daughter was concerned there would not be enough activities to interest her in another assisted living facility. When they came back for another visit, she said, “Annie took one look at the calendar on the wall and said, Mom, this is going to be fun for you! And it is.”
Every day, there is something interesting to do. The first that comes to her mind is a regular exercise group “which is fun,” and physical therapy as good as what she left behind in Jackson. She sits with Jim and Charlie at every meal, and plays a dice game every day with her new friend, Kathy Hodge. Also every day, weather permitting, she and Charlie take a walk along the Wind River, just outside the door.
On the day Nancy and Charlie arrived, the staff arranged an impromptu root beer float party to welcome them to the community.
It isn’t just another assisted living facility, according to Nancy’s daughter. It is a place that felt familiar as soon as they arrived, a community they were eager to join.