Senior Judy Olson benefits from local healthcare network

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Retired Registered Nurse Judy Olson is grateful for the network of community health care providers, which include the River Living Center, Guttenberg Care Center and Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisted Living, that helped her regain her health, strength and mobility. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisted Living tenant Judy Olson has overcome many challenges on her journey to better health, but received her best care in Guttenberg  thanks to the healthcare network that is available to area residents. 

Judy Olson

Olson grew up in Clayton County and lived near Colesburg during her 64-year marriage to her late husband, Lorimer. The 89-year-old has three adult children, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren with one on the way.

"Lorimer and I also lived in Louisiana and Ohio while he served in the Air Force," she added.

The Guttenberg Press visited with Olson at her spacious apartment at the assisted living facility. Her front door was adorned with a hand quilted, spring-themed wall hanging that she created herself. "I have done a lot of quilting and now enjoy adult coloring and reading," she shared. 

Health difficulties

Olson's long, difficult health journey began in April 2023 with her second fractured hip. "Since I had experienced a previous fracture, I thought knowing what to expect with therapy would help me recover more quickly – that was not to be," said Olson. 

The retired registered nurse, who was staying with a friend in Western Iowa when she fractured her hip, developed respiratory distress following her hip surgery, and was transferred to Avera Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. by helicopter. "Here I am told I had to fight for my life," she commented. "With high flow O2 and forced air, and the help of skilled doctors and therapists, I was able to survive."

Olson remained at Avera for three weeks while her O2 saturation stabilized and she began physical therapy.  

Three weeks later she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Cedar Rapids so she would be closer to her daughter. "It turned out to be one gigantic rough patch with many dark days," she remembered. "Some days I thought I was going to die, other days I wanted to die. With the help of a lot of prayers and support of a friend, I was able to get back on track."

The therapy she received was minimal and took place in her room. "I was only encouraged to walk in my room. I met the challenge of walking to the dining room on my own," she explained. 

Olson requested to be moved to a different facility but was discouraged when that didn't happen.  

On the right track

After a period of time she moved to River Living Center in Guttenberg, but required more therapy. The Guttenberg Care Center provided her with the outpatient therapy she needed twice a week, transferring her to and from the senior care facility in their transportation van.  

"The Guttenberg Care Center corporate physical therapists Christine "Critta" Aulwes and Angie White put me to work," she said with gratitude. 

During her stay at River Living Center, Olson experienced some set backs and had to spend more time in the Guttenberg Hospital. Not feeling able to handle assisted living and needing more therapy, she was admitted to the Guttenberg Care Center for additional therapy with Critta and Angie  as a skilled care resident.

Walking to the dining area from her room located at the end of a long hallway, which made the distance appear like it was a mile away, was her first goal.  "Like all journeys, it began with first steps. I would walk as far as I was able and someone would follow me with a wheelchair," she explained. "I would try to go a little farther each time until I made it all the way to the dining area." 

"Critta kept challenging me – like turning up the work load on the Nu Step from two to five, and bringing new exercises to the parallel bars," she said with a smile. "They continued to have me do more than I thought I could, but I always did. Ménière's disease has caused me a problem with balance, but Critta had the exercise to improve this also." 

Setting new goals

After several weeks, Olson graduated from therapy. "I have had therapy in several places, Guttenberg Care Center has been the best by far. I will be eternally grateful to Critta and Angie for encouraging me and helping me succeed," she said with deep gratitude. 

Olson would like to be able to walk without the aid of a walker by her 90th birthday in June. "I have come from being near death to living, and never thought I could afford to live at Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisted Living. It is such a beautiful facility with many benefits, and a beautiful view of Guttenberg and the Mississippi River," Olson concluded.

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