Perspectives on Aging
An Adult Child's Perspective on Aging Parents
4 years ago my parents were living independently in a 2 story house in Wilmette, Illinois. My mom developed a pancreatic mass that was increasing in size, which required immediate surgery. They removed part of her pancreas, her spleen and her gallbladder. After her hospitalization, my parents returned back to their home with a caregiver. It was not enough. The stairs were difficult for mom in her weakened state, and she was unable to grocery plan, shop, or even prepare meals.
Living in Steamboat Springs and coping with aging parents in Illinois (with no nearby siblings or family) was of prime concern in assessing living and care options. We chose to relocate my parents to The Georgian, a multi-level continuum of senior living and care community in Evanston, hoping that it was temporary and that they could return home. Unfortunately, this ended up not being possible. The Georgian was being renovated and re-designed with a new residence being built across the street from its older campus. The entrance fees for those units were so high that it prohibited it from being an option for them.
Three Crowns Park was also in the process of building a continuum of senior living/care community. We were only able to look at plans for the independent apartments, but they put in their deposit on a comfortable 1 bedroom with den apartment. They have now been residents there for two years. Coming up with the entrance fee was financially burdensome, as they still own their house. It has been a lot of work, as they left their home suddenly, and did not have time to get rid of things they didn't need and clean out the house.
During these 2 years, they have had many unfolding medical issues and hospitalizations. For all of these, I make the trip to Illinois from Steamboat, and stay in their apartment. I have transferred them between the hospital, rehab facilities, to the Three Crowns Skilled Nursing area, and back to their apartment. I have done that at least a half dozen times. 2009 was a particularly bad health year, with pneumonia, 2 broken hips, atrial fibrillation, and prostate surgery. Last August, Dad had a stroke. Currently, mom is in the apartment, and dad is still in skilled nursing. Because it is all in one building, we have a caregiver bring dad over to the apartment for lunch, afternoons and dinner in the dining room with mom. Then she takes him back to the skilled area. It is our hope that we can get him back to their apartment full time.
I am an Occupational Therapist. Ironically, one of my jobs is to evaluate living situations, and find out how to adapt them to promote maximum independence. I was excited when I heard there was going to be a continuum of senior living/care campus built in Steamboat. If we had one here now, my parents would be here. I would not be traveling to help take care of their issues in Illinois. I would not be faced with the predicament of realizing that I can't be in two places for the holidays. There are so many adult children of seniors in town that are going through the same scenarios with their family members.
I was honored to be invited to join the board to develop Casey's Pond Senior Living community. When I am at Three Crowns with my parents, I am basically living there and have been keenly educated about the benefits and shortfalls of becoming residents of such communities. I know the fellow residents. I know the staff. I hear the complaints, the concerns, and the kudos. I know what amenities are being used, and which are not. Steamboat has one chance to build an awesome senior living community and I hope that the experiences I’m sharing will positively impact the design, services, and delivery of care that Casey's Pond will offer. The greater Steamboat community is also contributing its ideas to ensure that we create a purposeful and "distinctive” senior living community that encourages and maximizes independent living. This will be accomplished by focusing on wellness and offering conveniences that may not be available at home, and it will provide security, and foster a great sense of resident pride and familial atmosphere.
Content Provided by Marilyn McCaulley