It wasn’t long after Drs. Amod and Dershi Saxena moved from Chicago into the Deupree House retirement community last September for them to feel surrounded by people who were much closer friends than typical neighbors.
“When we looked at Deupree House, we said, ‘This looks like our home.’ And it is. It has proven to be like that,” Amod Saxena said. “It’s not only good neighbors, it’s like a family.”
The second day or so that the Saxenas were living at Deupree House, a woman pulled him aside in a parking area and told him the friendliness he and Dershi would experience there was not fake.
“She said to me, ‘Amod, let me tell you something.’” he recalled. “She said ‘You’ll find people really friendly. They’re not making it up.’”
It had taken her a while to realize the friendships with fellow residents were genuine, and she wanted him to be assured of that as well, because she had found it remarkable.
“Think about that,” Amod said. “She said, ‘They’re not making it up.’”
Amod and Dershi, both doctors who were born in Northern India, have in fact found that to be the case, as have many others who live in Episcopal Retirement Services’ beautiful Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee retirement communities, both in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
Now both retired, Dr. Amod Saxena specialized in radiation oncology, while Dr. Dershi Saxena’s specialty was anesthesiology.
Feeling ‘physically and emotionally safe’
“Dershi and I, we feel physically and emotionally safe,” Amod said.
For one thing, when they’re on the secure campus, there is no fear while walking in the dark, about anybody walking up behind or in front of them, he said.
Also, when a health issue happens, as one did late last year, when Dershi fainted, the response from Deupree House staff was quick and expert, he said. After she collapsed, he pressed an alert buzzer that many residents wear for such occasions.
“There were two nurses within two minutes, and then Amy O’Brien (the RN for Independent Living at Deupree House), came 10 minutes later,” and they took “blood pressure and everything,” Amod said. “And I saw the nurse examine my wife. She didn’t know that I’m a physician and she’s a physician. They “examined her properly…. Asked me appropriate questions, and everything worked out well.”
Nichole McCaughey, executive director of Deupree House, credits two things for the friendliness and professionalism of team members.
"It's probably the extensive hiring process that Episcopal Retirement Services has candidates go through before placing them with a specific facility," Nichole said. "They're going to make sure they fit in with the culture and the Ways of Working, and then specifically fit in to the role they're being hired for."
Deupree House also has policies and procedures in place telling team members what to do, "so they know how to react to an emergency situation," she said.
The Saxenas moved to Cincinnati to be near their daughter and her family.
Not long into their first visit to Deupree House, Dershi said, “My God, this really feels like home,” Amod said. “That settled it.”
One Deupree House resident recently said he and his wife made more, and closer, friendships at Deupree in four years than they had during more than three decades living in the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira.
And having many friends can be helpful, because social engagement can help older adults ward off dementia.
“My God, this really feels like home.”
— Dr. Amod Saxena, Deupree House resident, quoting his wife, Dr. Dershi Saxena.
Places to make friends
One way to make friends is by visiting the library, or attending movie screenings of recent- and classic films in the communities, as well as game nights, fitness classes, lectures and presentations by authors and others.
Amod and Dershi like to visit the “coffee house” area in the mornings, where residents get breakfast foods and coffee.
“It’s a gathering place. I call it a water hole, because all day long, people just come, and talk, and read the newspaper,” he said. “Whenever I get bored, I just walk over, and sit there. And people come and talk.”
Resident Virginia Cox said fitness classes and other events are great ways to meet fellow residents, along with dining with them at community tables.
'Best thing we ever did'
Mary Austin, another Deupree House resident, calls moving into that retirement community nine years ago the “best thing we ever did.”
“It’s like home, and the staff is absolutely outstanding,” she said. “Everybody’s a neighbor. We all just take care of each other, and when we see somebody having a problem, we help each other. I can’t say enough good about it.”
When talking with people about retirement communities, Mary said her biggest message to them is: “Don’t wait too long. Come early enough so that you can meet people, you can be a part of the programs, the bridge, or the poker, or the game night, or whatever. Don’t wait too long.”
To schedule a tour, contact Karen Immell at (513) 561-4200.