Home Sweet Hermitage

Sue Switzer is 96 years old and has been living at The Hermitage for the past nine years. A self-described troublemaker, Sue initially moved in to join her husband. While he has since passed away, Sue has made a lot of friends at The Hermitage and still feels she has her freedom, even with all of the assistance.

The Hermitage at Solomons: Assisted Living

 Photography by Jane Pilkerton, Steve & Jane Photography

 There comes a moment in each adult’s life when one must face the realities of growing older. Just as children age, so do their dear parents. While both parties may be in denial, sometimes the best decision for everyone is making sure the loved ones who need around-the-clock care have it available to them. And not only for medical reasons, but for mental sanity as well. This includes offering the matured generation exactly what they deserve: a patient, relaxing place to call home.

The Hermitage is much more than just a senior community offering assisted living. The Hermitage is truly a home for the next stage of living – one equipped with registered nurses, beautiful, independent living conditions, and resident assistants to help you get dressed, bathed, and fed, along with a dedicated activities coordinator to organize games and socializing.

It is not a place residents go to die – The Hermitage is where the elderly go to live.

Connie Himmelberger has been the director of The Hermitage at Solomons for more than 20 years. She oversees the day to day operations of the home, often offering tours to interested families. The assisted living facility is known for not only the longevity of the staff, but also for its modern, yet homey feel. The environment is a breath of fresh air when it comes to senior communities, as it exudes both happy, lively residents and staff members.

Sue Switzer is 96 years old and has been living at The Hermitage for the past nine years. A self-described troublemaker, Sue initially moved in to join her husband. While he has since passed away, Sue has made a lot of friends at The Hermitage and still feels she has her freedom, even with all of the assistance.

“I have a lot of memories,” she says. “I talk about travel with my friends here.” Born and raised in northern California, Sue’s traveling began when her husband became a curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., with the pair visiting more than 50 countries – from New Zealand to Japan and South Africa.

Nowadays, she enjoys bingo, exercise and trivia. “I lived a very busy, social life in D.C. This place is relaxing, which is perfect for what I want.” While Sue describes the community as clean and quiet, she also mentions its diversity. “I meet people from all different states.”

Most importantly, though, are the nursing aids who also become friends with the residents. “The aids are wonderful. They are so caring. I’ve been sick several times and they take such great care of me. And the ones who aren’t taking care of me come and visit,” she says. “We’re all a part of each others lives here.”

The senior living community has a reputation of being so compassionate, in fact, it is now hosting second generation residents. Viola Hawkins is a GNA/medication technician who has worked at Hermitage for more than 21 years helping residents with personal care and has witnessed the generation of families come through first hand.

“Some people choose to come here because his or her parents, or a family member, was here, so they already know us [the aids],” she says. “We don’t have a turnover in staff or people who call out [of work], which is a testament to what kind of place this is.”

The connection with the residents who don’t have family members who come visit, however, is also what makes The Hermitage so distinct. Viola has a very special collection of knick-knacks from residents who have passed away. “One person wrote me a letter for Mother’s Day, which I have framed,” she said. “I like joking around with the residents – we are all very friendly with one another. Some don’t have a lot of family to come visit so we become their family.”

At The Hermitage, it’s known that everyone looks out for each other. “This is the safest, friendliest environment families can bring their loved ones,” says Virginia Horne, GNA, another long-time aid. “They are very well taken care of – and we keep them busy! There is always someone here 24/7.”

Virginia is a medication technician who has worked at The Hermitage for 18 years. “Holidays and birthdays are my favorite. One time we even held a prom for everyone.” She enjoys working with dementia patients the most. “They’re so sweet and I learn from them every day.”

Resident Nursing Assistants Denia Bugayong, GNA and Ednalyn Abril, GNA have worked at The Hermitage for 15 and 21 years, respectively. “I stay because of the residents. We get attached to them,” says Ednalyn, also a medication technician. “My favorite part is giving them their medicine and making them feel comfortable and safe.”

Denia, another medication technician, loves the fact that most residents are fun and playful people, making for a lively work day for everyone. Both aids admit to hearing an abundance of stories all the time. “I learn from them and their experiences,” Denia says, as would any family member. “Hermitage is the residents’ ‘Home Sweet Home’ because they feel comfortable and taken care of. It’s the enhancement of the quality of life that we are known for. We work together as a team – it’s truly an awesome place.”

Renovations and Expansions


The Hermitage is expecting a vast amount of renovations including 23 brand-new, spacious apartments. The suites will be available in various sizes with private bathrooms, kitchenettes, large closet spaces and wall-to-wall carpet. They even offer the option to bring your own furniture and assets from home – a truly unique and comforting amenity to many residents. As the complex expands, they are awaiting approval on a beautiful, new 12 bed memory care unit. Currently, there are 38 assisted living apartments, but after renovations there will be 73 total.

Meanwhile, the upgrades are not confined to just additional apartments. Their current dining room will be transformed into a new activity space that is attached to an enclosed patio, while a restaurant-style dining room will be added. This area will have a theater-style entertainment system as well as a baby grand piano. In addition, three more common areas will be available for all residents, and their already jam-packed activity program will be expanding even further. The lobby will also be receiving a fresh coat of paint, new carpet, furniture and a fireplace.

The Hermitage encourages interested individuals or families to feel free to stop by, take a tour of the community, and fill out an application. Visit TheHermitageAtSolomons.com or call 410-326-0070 for more information. Your new home awaits!