Trip of a Lifetime for Residents to Panama City Beach, FL

In May 2015, residents from Signature Hometown facilities travelled to Panama City Beach for our annual “Elder Vacation.” Two residents from Signature Healthcare of Fentress County, Frank Baines, and Debra Bowden, got to go on this trip of a lifetime. Recently, SHC of Fentress County was featured in our Hometown Newsletter for our Quality of Life Director’s story about Debra’s experience. Below is an excerpt from the story:

Everyone told me this trip was going to be hard…taking someone who was blind to the beach. They said she can’t even see the ocean. What they didn’t know was that this trip would be the most rewarding trip of her life and mine.

Debra Bowden from SHC of Fentress County hasn’t always been blind. Due to medical issues, Debra recently lost her sight. So when I asked her if she wanted to go to the beach, she hollered, “Yes! You’re gonna help me, right?” I told her, “Yes, I will help you.” Debra began to work with therapy, walking more and more steps each day to get prepared for her big trip. When we finally made it to Florida, she was so excited to get to the beach. She felt the sand in her toes and the warmth of the sun on her face. And although she was a little afraid to get in the water, she did it. “It was so cold,” she said, “but it was nice.”

I asked Debra her favorite thing and she said, “Drinking my Strawberry Daiquiri on the porch.” It made me realize we sometimes take for-granted the smallest things. In that moment, she was happy and at peace.

Later that evening, we took a dinner cruise on the Betsy Ann Riverboat. Debra wanted go to the top of the boat. There was no elevator, and Debra couldn’t walk far. Well, she started right up the stairs until we reached the top. “You’re at the top, Debra. Do you know how many steps that was?” I asked. “No, but it was worth it,” she said. She had climbed 18 steps. I was so proud of her!

This vacation had its ups and downs, but taught me that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. When we arrived home, Debra said, “When are we going to California?”

Kelsey Hackett, QOL Director – SHC Fentress County