Senior Care. If you’d have met me two years ago, you would have marveled at how I am a 70-year-old, independent woman who can not only take care of all her own needs, but also has an active social life and babysits her grandchildren whenever she gets the chance. In fact, people told me that the reason I was mentally all there even at this age was that I was so physically active. Of course, I did have my fair share of “senior moments,” when memory would fail me but even my doctor said that some of that was expected at this age. Whatever it was, I thanked God that I was fit and did not need to consider an old-age home, a phrase that put the fear of god in me!
It wasn’t till late 2014 that I realized that my forgetfulness was becoming almost rampant to the extent that it was affecting my life. At this stage, my doctor said that I had mild cognitive impairment, again something that a lot of people experience due to aging. But things didn’t stop there. I started losing track of the day, date and even the time of day. Sometimes I would feel disoriented even at the supermarket, especially if it wasn’t my usual one. This really scared me and is the moment I started seeking out in home care assistance.
New Housing Options for an Aging AmericaSenior Care
If you’d have met me two years ago, you would have marveled at how I am a 70-year-old, independent woman who can not only take care of all her own needs, but also has an active social life and babysits her grandchildren whenever she gets the chance. In fact, people told me that the reason I was mentally all there even at this age was that I was so physically active. Of course, I did have my fair share of “senior moments,” when memory would fail me but even my doctor said that some of that was expected at this age. Whatever it was, I thanked God that I was fit and did not need to consider an old-age home, a phrase that put the fear of god in me!
It wasn’t till late 2014 that I realized that my forgetfulness was becoming almost rampant to the extent that it was affecting my life. At this stage, my doctor said that I had mild cognitive impairment, again something that a lot of people experience due to aging. But things didn’t stop there. I started losing track of the day, date and even the time of day. Sometimes I would feel disoriented even at the supermarket, especially if it wasn’t my usual one. This really scared me.
My World Came Crashing Down
This was when my daughter insisted on taking me for a complete neurological checkup. It didn’t take too many of those cognitive tests for the specialist to diagnose me with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I was devastated. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I had fought the good fight so far, raised three children, survived my husband of 40 years and done my bit for the community too. It just wasn’t fair.
It took me a long time to finally come to terms with the diagnosis. I began to read about Alzheimer’s anywhere I could. I wanted to prepare myself for what was to come. This is when I came across statistics published by a non-profit organization, HelpGuide.Org, which said that more than 15 million Americans were estimated to be affected by this disorder by 2050, with already more than 26 million people having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s worldwide.
Life Began to Change
My doctor explained to me that this disorder progresses gradually, and while there were drugs that could slow the progress, for now there is nothing that could be done to halt or reverse it. For the first time in my life, the doctor recommended that I consider Senior Care Services specializing in the care of people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. But I wasn’t ready for this, at least not just yet.
I learned that while most classified the disorder across seven stages, my doctor gave me a simple way to understand the stages:
Stage 1: Early or Mild Stage: This can last anywhere from two to four years and is characterized by memory loss. In 2014, this is where I was. I forgot recent events, conversations, where I kept things and slowly also began to feel depressed off and on. At times, I also felt that driving was becoming difficult for me.
Stage 2: The Moderate or Middle Stage: This is where I was headed next, with persistent and pervasive memory loss, which would include forgetting my own personal history, and even lead me to being unable to recognize friends and then even family members. This stage could last up to 10 years in some cases. Sleep and mood problems, behavioral changes, confusion, problems with mobility and inability to take care of my activities of daily living would set in.
Stage 3: The Late or Severe Stage: Lasting anywhere from one to more than three years, this was the stage when I would get incapacitated, with not only loss of verbal skills but also severe problems, such as hallucinations, incontinence and delirium, setting in. This was when 24x7 care would be required. I didn’t want to live long enough to experience this stage.
My family really rallied around me once I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While I was denying my symptoms and diagnosis, my daughter, daughters-in-law and two sons were constantly at my side. I knew how busy their lives were and I felt terrible. But accepting that I was on a downward spiral in life was much worse than putting my children out for a bit, or so I thought at that time.
I began to notice the leaflets about residential care facilities, homecare facilities and all sorts of Alzheimer’s care services that were left around the house for me to find. I would get angry that my children thought of me as a burden and wanted to hand over the responsibility to someone else. By about mid-2015, I realized that my younger daughter-in-law had given up her full time job for some freelancing work so that she could take care of my needs.
My daughter was a single mother and was already struggling to take care of her own daughter and home. My older daughter-in-law took out as much time as possible to be with me. My sons insisted on dropping by on weekends. And I suddenly saw Monster-in-Law looking back at me when I looked in the mirror. I was being unfair to my family, expecting them to do things for me that only professionals would be able to in some time.
Acceptance Liberated Me
I finally decided to check out some senior care services for myself. I read leaflets, checked out websites and visited some with my daughter-in-law to talk to the people there. I finally settled on a residential facility that was not only conveniently located for my family to visit me regularly, I loved the place. Seacrest Village, in Little Egg Harbor, NJ, was just what I needed. The staff was so helpful, the residents seemed vivacious and the premises were simply inviting. Their program, Hearts in the Past, immediately appealed to me because recently I had been able to recall things that I had experienced in my youth and childhood than things that had happened the previous day.
I have been at Seacrest Village for almost six months now and I would gladly recommend this place to anyone going through what I went through from diagnosis to acceptance. Today, I know I have the right kind of support, people to talk to about my fears of future degeneration, and my children and grandchildren are happy to spend time with me whenever they can. My favorite day is when the dogs come in for the pet therapy sessions. I never had a pet of my own but I find so much peace spending time with these patient four-legged friends who always seem happy to spend time with me!
New Housing Options for an Aging America
Healthcare sitters are hired by individuals, hospitals and rehabilitation centers to ensure the safety of people with medical problems, such as patients who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Sitters do not have to be licensed medical professionals. However, they do have to be dependable, compassionate, trustworthy and have knowledge about the type of conditions their patients have. As the population ages, the demand for healthcare sitters may grow.Promoted by
Develop a written contract for clients that outlines duties. Family members will usually be the ones hiring a healthcare sitter. Most sitters do not perform medical procedures, such as taking vital signs. Decide what duties your healthcare sitter business will include, such as feeding and assistance in the bathroom. Clearly discuss responsibilities upfront so clients understand your boundaries.
Contact local hospitals and rehabilitation centers to determine if they hire healthcare sitters. Some hospitals employ sitters to work overnight with certain patients. Staff members are often busy providing medical care to patients and may not have the time to handle a patient who is confused and may try to wander out of the room.
Mail brochures and business cards to doctors' offices and senior centers to market your services and gain private clients. Be sure to interview clients first to determine if a job is a good fit. Consider the home environment, expectations and client needs before accepting an assignment.