As the sounds of a guitar and melodious singing drift through the house, three elderly ladies lounge in a sun room reminiscing about times long past. Smiles on their faces, they blissfully enjoy the tunes from the time of their youth, at a home here in Londonderry, NH, thanks to Here on Earth.
Owned and operated by Stacy Thrall, Here on Earth offers day care services for the elderly. Defined as a social model, the retreat offers supervision, as well as a structured environment where the elderly can enjoy music, art, exercise, and day trips with their peers.
“When I talk about the things we do, I think they (the family) think ‘Oh, my mother can’t do that’, but it’s not true. It’s so amazing what they can actually do if they’re just given the opportunity and they’re put back in with their own peers,” says Thrall.
Thrall explained that she has a woman who comes to the home often to create art projects, which are then displayed throughout the house. A musician also comes to perform old-timey songs for the guests. Exercise, including yoga and Tai Chi, and lifelong learning experiences are other activities hosted at the home.
The guests also get to venture outside of the home with trips to local restaurants and outdoor locations. Maryann’s for breakfast and Harold Square and 99 Restaurant for lunch, as well as trips to Massabesic Lake, Mack’s Apples and Hampton Beach, are some of the favorite destinations among the group.
Days at Here on Earth are generally structured, beginning with coffee and breakfast in the morning. The afternoon meal is eaten off Thrall’s best dishes, which were passed down from her grandmother. The group is also treated to Ginger Ale drunken from wine glasses during the afternoon meal. After lunch, guests are invited into the “antiques room” to take a break, relax, use the computer, or read a book or newspaper.
The center is the only one of its kind in the area operated out of a residential home. It opened in February of 2006, but the process to open the doors of her home to the elderly was long. Working in physical therapy years ago, Thrall says she fell in love with the geriatric population, but was seeing more and more of the generation going to nursing homes. Thinking there had to be more out there than that, she began dreaming about the company she has now.
“I’m like, they can come to my house and we’ll do activities, and we’ll do this and we’ll do that!” Thrall says. “And then I went back to school and got a degree in gerontology.” But, because there was nothing “on the books” for elderly care within a home, Thrall says it took about three and a half years to go through the Town and get all the necessary approvals.
Thrall says that she feels it can be very intimidating for elders to go into a nursing home, especially those who aren’t that ill or elderly. “They see people who are sick and in wheelchairs and it’s scary because it makes them feel like, ‘It’s going to happen to me.’ I think that makes the situation worse and brings on more depression,” says Thrall. “I wanted to create something different. I can’t save the world, it’s not a big place, but we can help some people.”
The home is handicapped accessible with a fully operating elevator located just outside the home. Thrall says she can provide transportation within a ten mile radius for those who would like their loved ones picked up or dropped off. CART services are also available to her home. The center currently operates two days per week, but has the potential to be open Monday through Friday for those looking for full time care.
Here on Earth is located at 9 Crosby Lane in Londonderry. To learn more or contact Thrall, please visit their website.