Mankind’s Sweetest Swan Song

We wake up bright and early – we’re given another day. Well, maybe not so much. For the senior members of our society each new day can be challenging in an unfamiliar way. Over time, seniors either temporarily or permanently…

  • are less able to do what they have always enjoyed
  • and less able to perform everyday tasks such as laundry, cooking, getting dressed, bathing, using the toilet
  • become aware of a decline in, or deterioration of, physical and/or mental capability
  • experience a serious deterioration or total loss of one or more sensory faculties of hearing, sight, touch (feeling), motor skills, coordination
  • become tired or exhausted more quickly
  • are no longer able to drive a car
  • are confronted with major surgery or serious medical issues
  • lose their spouse (how long has he been the most important person in her life?)
  • feel more isolated as their peers with whom they have shared, and experienced understanding, pass away
  • are more constrained financially, especially with the cost of health care
  • all of which lead to a greater dependency on others, which in turn could lead to a feeling of being a burden

seniors_issuesNature’s forced changes all result in a diminished experience of being in control of her world. For some this can lead to periods of resentment, anger, or even deep depression. Or is this change embraced or enjoyed (in-joy) as an easing from this life to the next? As in Ecclesiastes, is it seen as a time to slow down, of at last being able to take time to smell the roses and to enjoy the young great grand-children?

How do we as care-givers, or simply as the the younger generation, relate with our seniors? Do we support a positive or a negative attitude?

  • Do we ask what they want?
  • Do we ask for their opinion?
  • Do we ask for them to share their story?
  • Are they a burden to us? Then do we find an alternative support that honors them?
  • Are they an inspiration to us? Do we let him or her know why and how s/he inspires us?
  • Is their life a song?

Remember, they are somewhere that we most likely have not been. Can we learn from them while we still can?

Assisted? or Independent?

senior living arrangementsSenior living arrangement decisions become more urgent as we age. As our population’s longevity increases, so too the number of us who are confronted with the reality that we (or our senior parent or spouse) can no longer manage in the single-family house that has been our home for so much of our life.

Today there are a number of types of senior housing arrangements based on one’s needs both physical and medical and emotional and social. Then there are financial constraints:

Independent Living

Often this is the choice of those moving from their long-time home as a result of a gradual yet gentle aging process. Independent Living is generally a private apartment or cottage home in a community of like-minded peers that affords a range of amenities that may include:

  • a full-service cafeteria where all meals (or only as many as are desired) are available
  • landscaping/yard maintenance
  • house-cleaning service
  • laundry service

Independent Living is appropriate for those who are ambulatory and can bathe and dress themselves, yet are ready to unburden themselves from daily chores that become more exhausting with age.

Assisted Living

When one needs more assistance in performing daily routine and cannot realistically live alone, assisted living provides a balanced approach. Often this is needed as a result of a stroke or debilitating disease. Assistance is close and readily available. In addition to what is offered at Independent Living facilities, you will typically have:

  • on-site exercise and swimming, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy facilities and staff
  • limited help with medications

Nursing Home

A nursing home is for those who require frequent (daily) and close medical or nursing support. This can be either a temporary arrangement while recuperating from surgery or a long-term solution.

Additional Resources

In-depth discussion and information can be found at:

  1. A Place for Mom
  2. Helpguide.org
  3. Family Caregiver Alliance — Ohio resources