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Vol 5 No. 27- March 23, 2005

Golden years on Anna Maria Island


By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

When you live in paradise, it's hard to cross that bridge to the mainland.

When the time comes to trade independence for assisted living, Anna Maria Care, Inc., 2202 Ave. B. in Bradenton Beach, is where one can enjoy the sights and sounds of paradise under the care of a licensed staff.

Darren and Monique Sapienza are registered nurses who always wanted to run an assisted living facility (ALF). Now, their dream has come true and their goal is to make sure everyone who lives there has the best treatment in a safe and secure location.

From left to right: nurse Jenny Jowistoski, owner Monique Sapienza, resident Vera Glaser and Darren Sapienza at Anna Maria Care, Inc.

"I took a job as an orderly in the 1980s and soon realized I loved to provide care for patients, so I went to school and became a nurse," said Darren. "I was working in California and met Monique, who is also a registered nurse, there."

The two decided they wanted to get their own assisted living facility and Darren's mother, who lives on the Island, helped make it happen.

"She was walking around this neighborhood when she saw that this business was for sale," he said. "She talked to the owner, Peggy Baron, who said she wanted to sell it to someone who would keep it an ALF. My mother set up a meeting where Peggy basically interviewed us. She finally agreed to sell it, and I was able to return home on the Island."

It was a good move for Monique, who always said she wanted to live on a tropical Island.
They have three children: one is in high school, one is a first-grader at Anna Maria Elementary School and the third attends the School for Constructive Play, in Anna Maria. They all live at Anna Maria Care.

The facility is licensed for five residents and they still have some openings. Darren said as they fill those spaces, they will move into a home of their own.

Anna Maria Care is located in a large house two blocks from the beach in a residential neighborhood in Bradenton Beach. Shaded by trees and away from the heavy traffic of Gulf Drive, residents have their own rooms and some spectacular common area, such as a fenced deck, a shaded front yard, an enclosed back porch and a spacious living room. They also have a licensed staff for their every need.

"We were trained in hospitals, so we make sure we do things properly," said Darren. "We have a dietician who makes sure we prepare correct meals, and we make sure all our employees are licensed and update themselves with continuing education."

Monique said they can provide services for people needing assistance in many different situations.

"We have seniors who need assisted care for their daily living and can no longer live in their homes," she said. "They don't have to be permanent residents. We can provide care for people who are living with relatives when their caretakers go on a vacation. They can stay for a weekend or just during the day, when their caretakers need time to go shopping and just get away for a few hours."

They can also provide hospice care.

"We had one patient who was here for hospice care, but her condition improved so much they took away the hospice classification," Darren said. "We have daily activities for our residents, depending on their individual health.

"We can also provide services like a hair stylist or take them to church," he added. "What we're trying to provide is the type of service they deserve at this time of their lives."

Each bedroom has a cable hookup and patients can individualize them and even bring in some familiar furnishings for their comfort. All meals are provided on-site and patients can have as many visitors as they want. Darren also said they can provide this personalized service on the Island for less cost than larger facilities.

For more information, call 779-0322 for an appointment.

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