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Nancy Bitter has found the continuum of care aspect of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services to be a benefit to her — after surgery she moved to the nursing home to assisted living to independent living, all on the campus in Shrewsbury. Bitter chatted with Nancy Sterr after a Veterans Day commemoration at Our Lady of Life.
Nancy Bitter has found the continuum of care aspect of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services to be a benefit to her — after surgery she moved to the nursing home to assisted living to independent living, all on the campus in Shrewsbury. Bitter chatted with Nancy Sterr after a Veterans Day commemoration at Our Lady of Life.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Continuum of care helps with seamless recovery

Resident thrilled with rehab experience, offerings at independent living apartments

Temporarily sidelined after surgery two years ago, Nancy Bitter needed nursing care and rehabilitation to get back on her feet.

Bitter, who’d been living in her home in south St. Louis, told relatives that it was important that she go to a place with a strong Catholic connection because her faith is paramount.

Cardinal Ritter Senior Services, a Catholic Charities agency with its continuum of care programs including skilled nursing, assisted living and independent senior apartments, was a perfect fit.

Bitter came first to Mary, Queen and Mother Center briefly for skilled nursing care, then moved to Mother of Perpetual Help assisted living for a few months and now lives independently at Our Lady of Life Apartments, all on the Cardinal Ritter Senior Services campus in Shrewsbury.

“They were nice experiences,” she said. “They suited what I needed. I progressed to get strong enough to walk, then I was able to come over here (Our Lady of Life).”

She had a follow-up surgery and received care again for a bit at Mary, Queen and Mother Center before returning home to her independent living apartment.

Her rehab was an especially good experience. She did exercises every day and walked with a walker three times around the room without stopping.

Our Lady of Life exceeds her expectations, especially with its variety of activities and conveniences, Bitter said. She and several others get together in a “coffee klatch” and chat, “trying to solve all the problems of the world,” she said with a chuckle. “There’s so much. The bus takes us everywhere.”

She goes out to eat, on errands to stores, to shows and has the opportunity to visit museums, take in sporting events and more. Activities at Our Lady of Life include movies with popcorn, fitness classes, game days, dances, parties, a coloring club and similar offerings. On-site is a library, beauty shop, dining room where one meal is served daily and an activity room where Bitter plays cards. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful place,” she said.

Best of all is Mass every morning and weekend Masses, a daily Rosary recitation, Bible study, Advent programs and more. “The chapel always has been an important to me. My faith is important,” she said.

Bitter’s parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary, was a big part of her life. She began a play-a-game-day and was involved with the rummage sale and quilting. “It was my family,” she said.

Our Lady of Life has a wellness nurse, a weekly visit from a physical therapist and an option for residents to get therapy or a caregiver come to their apartment from an outside agency. “The nice part is that you have people around you. If you fall, there’s people here to get you help,” Bitter said, pointing out pull cords in the apartments to alert help and a system of checking on residents.

Chris Baechle, CEO of Cardinal Ritter, said “we work to meet the needs of seniors at all levels which allows them to enjoy life to the fullest. Nancy is a great example of how well this model works for our residents.”


>> Senior living options

Cardinal Ritter Senior Services offers programs, services and senior living options designed to meet the needs of senior adults across a continuum of care.

Our Lady of Life Apartments is an independent living apartment complex for seniors. Senior adults and couples remain active and involved while enjoying retirement.

Assisted living facilitiesoffer independence for residents who also need a little help. Each of the three Cardinal Ritter facilities, DuBourg House, St. Elizabeth Hall and Mother of Perpetual Help, is licensed by the Missouri Division of Health and Human Services.

Mary, Queen and Mother Center specializes in long-term care, skilled nursing care and rehab, hospice and palliative care and respite care. A holistic approach provides support for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of each individual. The activity department offers a variety of group and individual activities.

Other Cardinal Ritter programs include an adult day program that assists families caring for senior adults who cannot be left alone during the day; affordable senior apartments that provide a sense of community and privacy; social services with access to support programs and referrals; and the Foster Grandparent Program, a volunteer program for seniors to assist programs serving children.

An agency of Catholic Charities, Cardinal Ritter Senior Services is supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.


>> Mission statement

Inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, the mission of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services is to be a recognized provider in giving person-centered care through an integrated continuum of quality residential, health care and supportive social services for senior adults throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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