Resident Spotlights

Finding comfort in assisted living



A third grade teacher for 37 years in Waukesha, Wis., Joan Dehnel’s care for others shines through. With three children, eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, she is often surrounded by love.

“Someone said to me once, ‘[The students are] always falling off their chairs,’ and I said, ‘Yes, that’s what I love about them,’” Joan said.

After retiring from the public school system, Joan stayed in Waukesha with her husband Bill, volunteering and giving back to the city that “gave so much” to her. But when her husband’s dementia began to progress, Joan could no longer provide the full support he needed.

They toured Avalon Square in downtown Waukesha and were impressed with the “thoughtful and welcoming” staff who were clearly engaged with residents. The inclusive social opportunities for residents with dementia, along with the ability for Joan to participate in those activities with her husband were major factors in their decision. Another plus: different levels of care, all in one community.

“We were just thrilled and thought ‘This is the right place for Bill,’” Joan said.

Joan and Bill moved to independent living at Avalon Square shortly thereafter. Bill later transitioned to memory care to receive more support.

The day Bill moved to memory care, Joan remembers, “I came out[side]. It was a beautiful day and I thought, ‘Oh, this is lovely. Bill is all taken care of. I don’t have anything to worry about.’”

Joan continued to live in Avalon Square’s independent living apartment, enjoying her neighbors, the library and walking to nearby shops, entertainment and restaurants. However, after a few falls and forgetting to take her medicine, Joan sought extra help.

“My husband was in memory care for many years, and so I know how wonderful that was for him,” Joan remembers. “And I knew that if I needed other help, it was available.”

Joan moved to assisted living and has enjoyed the support she receives from the staff. She knows she can press a button at any hour, and someone will be ready to help her.

And she’s not the only one who feels this way.

“It’s been a real relief to my family, especially my daughters, family and grandchildren who live here in Waukesha,” Joan said. “They are very happy to see me here.”

She spends hours in the library, socializes with friends and participates in daily chair exercises. She enjoys her lunch and dinner in the dining room with wonderful friends. Joan is surrounded by “fresh, clean and new” community spaces, flooring and décor at Avalon Square, after a recent renovation project.

“I look at my apartment and I’m delighted,” Joan reflects. “I have a beautiful, big apartment. It has all of my lovely things in it and I just feel at ease.”

Within assisted living, Joan has access to extra help and care, making her happy in her choice to move. And, she is surrounded by love every day.

“I’m very comfortable and that, at my age, is a good feeling.”

Learn more about assisted living and how living at a PHS community offers you the freedom to live well.



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