Judy Brumbaugh: Optimism. Positive Attitude. Success.

From Timeless in Bedford County Magazine No. 2

During the years when Judy Brumbaugh was working as a waitress at a diner in Breezewood, she met people from all over the U.S. and beyond who were seeking a good meal and a chance to recharge. As the town at the intersection of multiple major highways, Breezewood plays host every day to thousands of people who have often traveled a very long way. 

Judy herself has traveled a very long way, on a much more meaningful journey. Last year at the age of 65, Judy suffered a major stroke that nearly took her life, and changed it dramatically. She spent months in the hospital, in Altoona and Pittsburgh, and has needed extensive therapy to recover. The stroke left her with deficits in her speech, ability to walk and use of her left hand and arm. But the stroke did no harm to Judy’s optimistic spirit, her inner strength or her sense of humor. She fully committed herself to her rehabilitation and recovery, with the goal of returning home and living independently again. Now, she is getting closer and closer to fulfilling that goal, and she says that her improvement is largely due to the people and services at Community Life Bedford.

“Community Life has done wonders for me.”

Judy Brumbaugh

“I come here four days a week, and I get my rehab, delicious meals, fun activities and time with my friends. Everything here is great and I love it as a whole: the staff, the care, the services, and the atmosphere. I love it. The staff takes excellent care of me and all of us.”

Judy said her only other option was a long term care facility, and she did not want that for herself. At Community Life, she gets physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy; she is able to walk short distances now, with the support of a walker. She plays bocce, enjoys bowling and a board game called Farkle, and simply being among her friends every day. “It’s easy to make new friends here,” Judy says. “I have a best friend, Donna, who I share my house with, and I have new friends at Community Life.”

Friends are important to Judy. She’s grateful to her friend Melissa, who referred her to Community Life, and to Donna and Kendra for all they do to assist her. When she was working at the diner, Judy had a good friend and co-worker, Lisa Defibaugh, who is now on the staff at Community Life. Having Lisa there and seeing her every day adds a special bonus to all the good things Judy is experiencing through Community Life. It’s one of the things she most looks forward to about the center. Lisa helps her to stay positive, even when she is having pain in her legs or having difficulty with tasks such as writing.

“I’ve always been a positive person, and that’s a trait that I think I got from my father. He was always optimistic. I think it helps a lot to have that attitude. I am improving in so many ways: my legs used to hurt a lot more and they’re better now. When I get my feet working right again, I’ll be able to kick somebody’s butt! I’m working on improving my use of my left hand. My therapists Kim Oswalt OT and Katie Kozielec, PT has helped me so much.” Lisa Defibaugh says that Judy has regained her ability to perform many activities of daily living. “Judy is doing so much on her own now and living life with more independence every day. Her life changed so much when she had the stroke but she has worked very hard to recover.”

As much as Judy appreciates the therapy and other services she receives at Community Life, her ultimate goal is to get to a point where she no longer needs therapy. “Community Life is the reason I am able to live at home, and I am grateful to them. Home means a lot to me – I was in the hospital for such a long time and all I wanted was to go home. Now my wish is to be at home, all day, every day.” 

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