In June, Nicole Roenius, her husband, Matt, their 3-year-old son, Luca, and their dog, Lola, packed up to move from Milwaukee to Arizona so Nicole could start her new role as therapy director at Acacia Health Center. In just a few months, she is already making a huge impact at Acacia’s skilled nursing community, Sagewood independent living and Desert Willow assisted living. Her passion for therapy and senior living is evident in her work and the way she cares for residents.
Nicole brings over five years of experience in senior living care with her to Sagewood. She previously worked at an LCS community in Milwaukee and prior to that she worked with stroke, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis patients in a skilled nursing facility. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Marquette University in Milwaukee and since starting her career, she also earned a certification in lymphedema therapy.
While her resume is very impressive, Nicole’s passion for physical therapy and the geriatric population stems beyond her education and employment experience. By the time she was a junior in high school, Nicole knew she wanted to work in physical therapy. She was a soccer player on her high school team when she suffered an injury that kept her off the field for over eight weeks. During this time, she learned she could attend physical therapy to heal and get back to playing.
Up until that point, Nicole had never heard of physical therapy. The experience was entirely new to her, and during her sessions she participated in fun exercises designed to help her heal. She found it fascinating that someone’s knowledge of the human body and exercises could help her rehabilitate and recover from the injury faster. From that moment on, she set her sights on being a physical therapist for athletes.
It wasn’t until her clinical rotations that Nicole realized that athletics was not her true passion. Instead, while working with seniors, she determined her skills would be more valuable and impactful for that population. She could help them regain mobility, function independently for longer and extend their lives. She has also appreciated building lasting connections with the older adults.
Nicole says, “I really enjoy going into work every day and a big reason is because I get to talk and learn from all the amazing residents. They are full of wisdom and life experiences. I really learn so much from just our conversations and I feel luckily to be able to form these connections.”
During her time at Sagewood, so far, Nicole has been able to meet many residents and get to know the staff. She will be managing the therapists, providing updates to family members, caring for residents, creating discharge plans, training new team members and so much more.
When she isn’t at work, Nicole is settling into her new home with her family. As they adjust to the heat, they are spending time indoors having dance parties or going to the park early in the morning. They are looking forward to when the weather cools off so they can explore the outdoor activities that Arizona has to offer.
If you see Nicole around the community, make sure to say hello and suggest a restaurant, activity or hiking trail for her and her family to try out!