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Caregiving : Changing Seasons
Posted by Keswick on Aug-22-2004 (3043 reads)

(Paulette Kaufman, Keswick Pines Lifecare) - Have you looked at your mother lately? I mean, have you really looked at your mother lately? As a marketing counselor in a Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC) I have met many senior citizens and their families. It amazes me how many children continue to see their parents as the strong, in-charge person they were 30 years ago. They are accustomed to seeing their parents provide help and support; and truly fear seeing their mother or father struggling.

Recently, a couple from Delaware brought their father into our lifecare community to look at apartments in the independent living neighborhood. When I spoke to the son on the phone, I asked him how his father was managing at home. His reply was confident, "My Dad is fine, and does everything for himself." We set the appointment for later that week.

On the day of the appointment they arrived with Dad. I was concerned when I saw him. He was a tall, frail man, wearing a disheveled warm-up suit that looked like it needed washing. He could have also used a shave. However, when I reached for his hand to shake it, his bright blue eyes sparkled and he gave me a big smile, and a warm ”Hello.”

As we walked down the hall to see an apartment the older gentleman pulled me aside and quietly confided, "I can't do this. My legs are too weak to walk this far." I knew he needed Assisted Living, where the rooms and distances are more manageable, and 24-hour personal care is available.

I turned to the son and explained the situation. As our parents age, sometimes they need extra care and assistance. Everyone wants their parents to live independently as long as possible, but the ability to make good decisions and to care for oneself can slowly decline. Then there may be a crisis, and the immediate and sometimes emergency need for the help of another caring adult becomes suddenly apparent.

We then toured the Assisted Living neighborhood of the community. When we finished, the older gentleman turned to me, smiled kindly and said, "This is more like it."

When the father went to use the restroom, his son looked at me and said, "I just had no idea he was so frail."

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