Left to right: Robin Westburg, occupational therapist assistant; Zona Shepherd; and Kelley Delcamp, speech therapist

Zona Shepherd, 99, is the oldest living graduate of Chandler High School in Arizona from 1938.


She is also healthy and living back at home, thanks to the team at Desert Cove Nursing Center in Chandler, who recently assisted her after an acute kidney injury.


Shepherd came to the skilled nursing and rehab center from Chandler Regional Hospital on Feb. 6, 2018, needing extensive assistance to take care of daily tasks like grooming, bathing and getting dressed. She needed some assistance to walk, stand and transfer from one surface to another, such as from her bed to a wheelchair. She also had some difficulty swallowing.


Not to be daunted, she jumped right in to physical, occupational and speech therapies.


“Zona has always been motivated and excited for therapy since day one,” said Tina Garrett, physical therapist. “She displays lots of progress.”


In physical therapy, Shepherd worked on therapeutic exercises, balance training and gait training. Occupational therapy addressed her self-care skills, and speech therapy helped her to swallow normally.


Very quickly, Shepherd was independent in all these areas once again.


“All the staff has been really nice and helpful,” said Shepherd. “Even when I wasn’t feeling like doing therapy, they were always able to cheer me up and help me feel better.”


Shepherd returned home on Feb. 23.