"That started the trek down the road we are on now," says her son, Brad Coleman. Brad is a senior community relations specialist for Sanford Health.
Less than two years in, Joan, 84, transitioned across the parking lot to the memory care unit at Good Samaritan Society – Sioux Falls Village.
"It's been a really good transition for her. It's something she needed, better for her health and for her overall wellness," Brad explains.
Before COVID-19, he'd visit her almost daily, picking her up for appointments and church on Sundays followed by family time.
Coping with restrictions, isolation
It's tough for everyone, he says.
"About a year ago, we got mom an iPad," says Brad. "Thank God for technology or none of us would know our family members unless they lived in the same house."
Staying connected is key during this time and he credits the Sioux Falls Village staff for helping Joan use the iPad properly to connect with family.
"She, like everyone else, has felt claustrophobic and we all get that way when we can't do the things we like to do," Brad says. "The biggest comfort is the people, the staff. We call them our angels and they are."
Throwing a birthday party
May 19 was Joan Coleman's 84th birthday. Even with visitor restrictions in place, Joan's family wanted to make it special.
They threw a party complete with loved ones, birthday balloons, signs, cake, sandwiches and song. Brad again credits the staff for helping make it so special from the inside with the food, singing and helping connect to grandkids on the iPad.
"It was just a great experience," he says. "The staff treats these folks like they're family. We feel like Mom is a part of their family. That is really good for us. They love her just like we do."
'They are amazing people'
The Coleman family took Joan on an Alaskan family vacation in August of 2019. It was a trip Joan had always wanted to take and they'd been planning for 18 months.
During that trip, Brad and his family saw first-hand what it took to care for their mother each day and they praise the work the Sioux Falls Village staff does.
"To do what this team does day in and day out with multiple residents and all the different challenges residents are facing, they show such amazing levels of passion and love. It's incredible what they do.
"If she was at our house and it was (my wife) and I doing this, we couldn't give her the same level of care. We could give her the love but we couldn't give her the care. They treat her like she's their grandmother and that's very comforting and warming for us as a family."