DG Gridley felt lost and helpless when she became the primary caregiver for her mother-in-law and father-in-law in 2007.
As a middle-school teacher at Sayre School, Gridley lacked the health care background and knowledge needed to properly help them as they aged, and she found it impossible to get answers and information when problems arose.
"It was like being parachuted into a jungle and not being able to find a way out," she said.
Within the same year, Gridley's mother also became sick and died.
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These difficult and painful experiences prompted her to seek a change in the senior health care industry.
She found the conditions of many nursing homes unsatisfactory and professional in-home care too pricey. So Gridley returned to school and earned a master's degree in health care administration. In 2010, she began to develop her own care business for senior citizens, Aging With Grace, Aging in Place: The Health Club for Seniors, which opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony early this month.
Grace Place, as it is called, provides all-day care for the elderly, including medical services, a spa, exercise classes, meals and interaction with others in a setting similar to a country club.
The care center is on Liberty Road.
Grace Place remains the least expensive form of long-term care, Gridley said. The club charges $100 yearly for membership and $13 for each hour of care. Full-time attendance costs $65 a day.
Members can qualify for payment by Medicaid or another long-term care insurance.
"We need to grow old with health and wealth," Gridley said.
Many seniors prefer to grow old in their homes, and Grace Place provides the opportunity for them to receive necessary care during the day at the club, including meals and transportation to doctor's appointments, while maintaining their homes and independence, Gridley said.
The club tracks each senior's health through a personalized wellness map, designed by a health consultant and personal physician to schedule medical tests and make exercise and diet recommendations.
For a rejuvenating treat, club members can visit the spa for one treatment a week, such as a facial, massage or pedicure, at no additional cost.
To help fend off dementia, the club offers opportunities for face-to-face interaction, with many clubs and a guest speaker each day.
Interaction and exercise are crucial for staying healthy while living independently as a senior, said Katherine Dailey, program supervisor at the Senior Center at Charles Young Center.
The Charles Young Center offers exercise classes for seniors Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., including pickleball, tai chi and line dancing.
"They keep seniors active and mobile and allow them to interact with others on a regular basis," Dailey said.
The classes strengthen core muscles, which when weak tend to make the elderly more prone to falling. This can lead to more serious health problems, she said.
Other options for seniors interested in becoming or staying active include programs with Silver Sneakers, offered at more than 50 locations in and around Lexington, including Grace Place.
Silver Sneakers provides those 65 and older a fitness membership at a participating facility and free access to exercise classes and educational seminars.
Participating Kentucky insurance companies include AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan, Aetna Medicare, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Humana and UnitedHealthcare.
The Silver Sneakers program at the Beaumont YMCA offers morning classes for fitness beginners, such as low-impact aerobics and seated weight-lifting, to classes for those more experienced, such as circuit training and cycling.
The full list of Silver Sneakers locations can be found online at Silversneakers.com.
Gridley said staying healthy physically and mentally is a key to growing old gracefully.
"My motto is, do unto others as you would have them do unto you," she said. "I've seen a lot of nursing homes, and it's not a place I want to spend my years. I don't want that for myself or others."