Tackling Multiple Sclerosis in an Uncommon Way at Ojakian Commons

A new facility in Simsbury provides some independence for patients who are dealing with multiple sclerosis by giving them an option other than to enter a nursing homes prematurely.

Ojakian Commons is specially designed to meet the needs of people who suffer from MS and other disabilities and features a wide variety of amenities to assist disabled residents, including accessible bathrooms, automatic door openers and extra-wide hallways and doorways to accommodate large motorized wheelchairs.

The building also includes several recreational rooms, including a library, an entertainment room, as well as an exercise and physical therapy center.

Bonnie Postle, a 61-year-old former nurse who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 30. spent a lot of time in a nursing home, despite being relatively young by nursing home standards, but said no facility has improved her quality of life as well as Ojakian Commons.

“With my wheelchair being electric, and all the freedom of the doors being opened and closed without having someone saying ‘Oh hey, come over here and open the door.'” If I was in a regular apartment, that wouldn't happen,” she said.

However, Ojakian Commons is much more than a well-designed modern care facility. There’s an emotional sense of community that residents experiencing similar health struggles have forged.

“You don't feel like you are alone, whereas if you are in a regular apartment, you are kind of just there,” she said.

Cynthia Bidorini, of the National MS Society Connecticut Chapter, takes great pride in the creation of a facility that will allow those suffering from disabilities to live their lives independently.

“I think one of the things that has been most eye-opening for me is talking to some of these residents' family members and to see the tears of joy in their eyes when they can finally rest assured and feel comfortable knowing that their loved one is in a safe, friendly, and beautiful environment, “ she said.

Rental rates at Ojakian Commons vary on a case by case basis.

Typically, most residents pay 30 percent of their gross income on rent.

The building includes 48 apartments, including one- and two-bedroom offerings.

The ages of the residents vary. The youngest resident is 26. while the average age of a resident is 45.

For more information on the Ojakian Commons, click here.

You can join NBC Connecticut in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis at the “Get Connected MS Luncheon,” this Friday October 30, with special guest Jean Chatzky.

For more information, click here.

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