Families Make Different Choices for Assisted Living

By Jim Dueck, Director of Marketing
Palm Village Retirement Community

As sad as it is when both sets of parents of a married couple are deceased, the woman interviewed this month was able to provide a valuable experience about family situations when the parents’ needs must be addressed.

Her father and father-in-law died suddenly, at relatively young ages of 70 and 62, respectively. However her mother and mother-in-law each eventually needed assisted living care and their stories of how it was attained are very different.

This daughter was very familiar with the wonderful care provided at Palm Village Retirement Community and was able to help her husband and sister-in-law understand that assisted living was the best choice for their Mom as well as their families.

“My husband worked out of town most of the time and my sister-in-law lived in another city, plus my sons were teenagers at the time and I worked full time,” The daughter stated. “I was responsible for the daily needs of my mother-in-law, who was an alcoholic. She needed frequent visits to the doctor and for the most part was a person who many people would consider to be high maintenance. I was becoming overwhelmed as she lived 25 miles from us,” she continued.

With the encouragement of a family doctor, the decision was made that assisted living would surely be a blessing for all. And it was. Her mother-in-law’s daily needs, which had become almost impossible for her daughter-in-law and teen children to handle, were taken care of including her meals, laundry, housekeeping and medications. And yet she was able to keep her car and drive to nearby places. The most rewarding part was that with the atmosphere of the retirement community, she chose to no longer drink alcohol and visits with the family were so much calmer and enjoyable.

This lifestyle continued for many years and everyone felt that assisted living brought peace and joy to all of them.

“The story of my Mom’s situation is much different, she said. Because Mom lived 3,000 miles away from me, my brother and sister took care of her. Although our entire family conversed often, the experience was truly different for each of us. My brother was very much against retirement homes in principle and my sister would feel guilty unless she was involved in my mother’s daily care, even though she herself had breast cancer.”

As the years passed her Mother’s health continued to deteriorate and she refused to stop driving. “In the early years, she told us to arrange for her to live in assisted living when needed, however when the time came she decided to live alone in an apartment,” continued the daughter. 

Stress mounted for the families as their mom aged, eventually having to make a nightly late evening visit to her apartment several miles away, in addition to the day visits, to be sure she was okay and ready for sleep.

“The heartbreak for me was that eventually Mom could no longer recognize who I was in our phone calls and I was so worried about her,” lamented her daughter. It wasn’t until I made more trips to the east coast that I was able to help my siblings understand that it was truly a wise choice to move Mom to an assisted living community.”

And oh what a change it made for her and the family, as she received the loving care that she deserved after so many years of taking care of her family. “Plus, now my sister was able to concentrate on her own health needs and I was relieved just for that reason,” recounts the daughter.

Unfortunately, because the family had waited until their mother’s health waned, she had a stroke a few months after she moved to the retirement community. “However, even in those last days, the staff was so comforting and loving to Mom, making sure that she was dressed and brought to an area of activity and not just lay in bed.” 

“I always wished that I had more influence with my family and was able to have Mom move to a community much earlier. I think the daily healthy lifestyle in assisted living communities would have added years to her life.” continues the daughter. “I witnessed the care my mother-in-law received at a much earlier age in assisted living and I know it would have been beneficial for Mom too.