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Wanda Aanderud Shares Her Independent Living Story 23 Years Later

By: Wanda Aanderud

My name is Wanda Aanderud, I acquired my disability on my 23rd Birthday after diving off the dock at Nelson-Carlsen Lake and injuring the C4-C5 vertebrae levels of my spinal cord. Following two surgeries at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot and being transferred to Altru Medical Center in Grand Forks for three months of physical therapy, I was placed in a nursing home.

I was a 23 year-old living in a nursing home surrounded by people three times my age. There was no one to socialize with besides the staff at the nursing home. The nursing home did not offer social or recreational activities for the residents. The only social engagement I was really exposed to was a weekly residential gathering to watch the Lawrence Welk show. The lack of social opportunities made me feel lonely and depressed at times. When I found myself feeling this way, I would seek peace at the courtyard outside. This allowed me to get away and gave me a moment to escape all of the noise and offensive odor of the nursing home.

I remained in a nursing home for over a year, until my parents discovered Options, Resource Center for Independent Living. I remember my parents and I meeting Jay. He drove us around town and helped me find housing in the local area. I transitioned out of the nursing home into my own apartment in the summer of 1993. After I transitioned, my aid Sheila really pushed me to do as much as I could on my own. Jay, Sheila and my parents are the reason I am out of a nursing home and continue to live independently in the comfort of my own home.

Had I not transitioned, I probably would not be alive today, or if I was, I would be extremely bitter, depressed and unhealthy. I lost a lot of freedom living in the nursing home. They controlled my healthcare insurance which resulted in loss of coverage. They controlled my nutrition, visitation, medical care, recreational activity and social time. My transition experience allowed me to regain my Independence.

Today, I live at the ASI building in Minot and have resided here since the summer of 1997. I am actively involved in the community and have been a member of the board at Independence, Inc. for the past four years. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, being outdoors, socializing with people in the local area, visiting the Roosevelt Park Zoo, going to the Dakota Square Mall, volunteering at my church, participating in my local life leadership chapter and assisting with the annual Trunk-or-Treat event in town.

I now enjoy a fulfilling life in my own home with my good friend, Connie and other acquaintances in the building. I also have wonderful aids that visit me daily to assist with essential cares. This is all thanks to Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and nursing home transition services.

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