2 months ago · [email protected] · Comments Off on A Message From Our President – Charles Hodges
Home Alone For The Holidays? Not Ideal For Senior Living.
Following my father’s passing, my mother was determined to remain at home, alone, even through her own age-related decline. Not putting her into an assisted living facility is a regret I have, so I want to share my story with folks in the daunting position of determining care for their senior loved ones.
Home Alone was a great holiday film, but it isn’t the best real-life solution. It seems like the right thing to do, but in my case, if given a chance, I would do it differently.
My mom was a champion. Born to a millwright in the pine forests of Arkansas, she possessed an intrepid spirit and tireless work ethic. Fiercely independent, she took great pride in living at home after my dad died. She got along well after watching my dad decline with Alzheimer’s. She cared for him each day after he entered a memory care unit, steadfastly caring for him until his passing at 89.
As an only child, I always felt it was my duty to try and fulfill her wishes even through her mild cognitive impairment and several falls at home.
Looking back, it was a mistake of my ignorance. I thought every assisted living and memory care resident would have the same disappointing experience as my dad. I told myself the system wasn’t as good as home. Having a trusted housekeeper, I thought, was the answer.
My momma progressed through mild cognitive impairment but still was sharp at working the New York Times crossword multiple times per week. Her professional life as an interior designer took her to large corporations and fine houses throughout Dallas. We had lots to share about my work as a commercial architect. But I couldn’t be there every day as my work was in many states. She seemed comfortable, but many signals were missed. Subtle changes were happening that only a trained eye there every day could have seen.
Had I known then, had there been any place like Tribute where social choices and constant stimulation were present, I would have chosen differently.
I would have chosen a place where socialization was paramount. I would have chosen a life where she could have been part of a vibrant community where music and art took the place of endless T.V. shows alone. Group fitness and travel classes should have frequented her days rather than the same surroundings, food, and reruns. I would have chosen differently.
Yes, she would have resisted, but after several falls at home, followed by 30-60 day stays in skilled nursing, then assisted living/rehab, she found that it wasn’t bad. In fact, she liked the attention. New folks to talk to, and new surroundings, brightened her outlook, and she returned home only to sink back into home alone. She would never complain; as I said, she was fiercely independent. However, loneliness and hopelessness are the enemies of the declining brain.
My mom, like our residents, would have loved and benefitted from the intervention programs we began here at Tribute. They were created to provide the lifestyle changes needed to slow the decline and help the body change the trajectory of aging.
If I had chosen differently, we might have avoided falls that accelerated her decline. I would have chosen differently had I been strong and worked on finding a place of intervention of lifestyle, fitness, study, stimulation, brain training, and most of all, socialization.
It didn’t exist, and I gave my mom my word I would change that. Thus Tribute was founded and continues each day to evolve, discover and invent new levels of quality of life for our residents.
Home alone was the easiest, the most comfortable, and the most accepted choice. Ultimately, it was not the best, and I would have chosen differently.
Like I did, you may believe, “this is the last holiday at home” for your parent or spouse, thinking that a final holiday season at home is the right choice. Still, it is one of the best times to transition to an assisted living community. Although the holiday season is a time of celebration, it can be very lonesome for seniors. They need family, of course, but they also need to engage with other peers at the same stage of life they are in, making new friends and relationships, and sharing the lifetime of memories and experiences of their era.
I believe that in a community like Tribute, it can be much better for them, as they have other residents, staff members, visiting families, and friends ranging from young to old to engage with them. Additionally, participating in a full lineup of activities and a festive atmosphere to help them thrive physically and emotionally can be just the kind of intervention they’ve been missing.
Please don’t make my mistake; when it comes to choosing senior living for your loved one, you’ll never regret what you did, only what you didn’t.
Always in Tribute,