The Realities of Senior Care through the Eyes of a Daughter

The Realities of Senior Care Through the Eyes of a Daughter by Melanie Vicker, The Sprightly Life, inspiring women to take care of their health, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

 When my mother in law began to show signs of aging, I did not recognize it.  Or perhaps I didn’t want to.  She started to do things that were out of character; getting lost on the way to the grocery store or showing up hours early to pick up our son from high school.  She was very good at masking what was going on, many times making it into a joke.  She always had a crazy sense of humor, so we didn’t think much about it.  Until it became apparent that she was unable to live alone.  We researched and found a place close by that offered different tiers of care in case her situation changed.  Which it did.  They wanted to increase her care, but were not equipped with the type of memory care she required.  The only option they had available was skilled nursing, which was not the right fit.

We then moved her to a community equipped to serve her memory care needs.  The staff was wonderful and they took great care of her mentally, physically and emotionally.  I spent a great deal of time there and became well acquainted with the staff.  She was able to stay there until she passed away.

There are many communities in our area that offer these “expanded care as needed” concepts.  But from my experience there are gaps.  There’s no sense of blame here, just my observation.  How can a single facility possibly be equipped to handle EVERY situation?  Especially as the needs of our aging population seem to change continuously.

In our current senior living care situation, I know families who are separated due to different care needs.  The husband requires care that the wife is no longer able to give. So he is moved to another building within the community, while she remains in her independent apartment.  These couples have been married for decades.  The wife is now told she no longer needs to be her husband’s caregiver.  This is supposed to make it easier for her, but it doesn’t.  Caregiving has been her role.  Her purpose.  She’s used to planning her day around his needs, and while this is sometimes exhausting, it’s her reason to get up each day.  As long as he’s alive, he is her reason for living.

I hope we can find new and better solutions.  Here is my vision for the future of senior care living.

Inside this community there are sidewalks and shops, a bank and a grocery store.  People could walk or ride bikes everywhere they need and want to go!  Each family could have a small home, even the size of an apartment.  There would be trees and a yard in front of each home.  It would be easily accessible for residents to use walkers and wheelchairs, and those who need more specialized care would be free and safe to move about with trained staff and medical personnel available as needed.

I envision the homes being built around a courtyard.  When they walk out the “back door” they are safely inside the community courtyard.  For independent residents, they walk out the “front door” where their car would be parked in the driveway.  In this type of living environment families could remain living together with the access to help as needed.  Instead of the need to move away from one another due to health challenges.