SHERIDAN — Growing old might be difficult, but the decision to seek elder care proved an easy one for two women, widowed and seeking community interaction and help with physical restrictions.
Shirley Jones and Barbara Oedekoven both chose to seek assisted living arrangements without any prodding from family members or friends. Both women’s husbands passed, and the burden of living alone in large houses motivated them to seek other living arrangements with less responsibility.
Oedekoven moved into Sugarland Ridge assisted living eight years ago and Jones moved in around six weeks ago. Both suffered medical emergencies and saw the benefit of having care readily available. The biggest benefit for the two women, though, is the community.
“I would encourage anyone to make that step, not be alone,” Oedekoven said. “Because I think you need people. People do need people, and it does keep your mind (fresh).”
Jones, who picked up the telephone three times before finally making the call to Sugarland, never regretted her decision and remains thankful for the move from a large, lonely home to her apartment and new friends.
For others, the decision might not be as easy. Fears surrounding the transition often include loss of independence, having to let go of beloved items like a home and everything inside or even the idea that elder care means the end of life.
Elder-care facility members help those transitioning to new living arrangements make the best decision for their needs at the time. Stella Montano works with families daily through her position as family caregiver director at The Hub on Smith.
Fears are often dispelled once individuals learn about the resources available.
The transition usually starts with families reaching out to Montano or admissions coordinators at senior living facilities. Caregivers who can no longer take care of their loved ones, adult children who live far away or do not have the time to be a full-time care provider for their parent or seniors that recognize their need for assistance come to coordinators asking for help in making the next step.
Mel Kraft, owner of Mel’s Helping Hands, sends employees into people’s homes and also to assisted living facilities to aid elderly citizens with hygiene care, meals and medication regulation, among other tasks. Mel’s crews are often commissioned by the hospital to help with 24-hour care after medical procedures.
“What we try to do is work ourselves out of a job,” Kraft said. “We get them back up on their feet.”
Mel’s and other entities, like The Hub’s Help at Home program and Devoted to Home at-home care, come in for as short as a morning visit and as long as full 24-hour care.
Assisted living facilities like Sugarland Ridge utilize home-care medical professionals to fill in the gaps of service they cannot provide with their in-house certified nursing assistants.
The Hub provides services to assist anyone living at home or in assisted living facilities like transportation through Goose Creek Transit or meals at The Hub or delivered to a person’s home.
Those needing care beyond assisted living options may often turn to nursing homes, which may seem like an end-of-life move. Admissions coordinator Susan Field with Westview views her role with families as a way to provide tools for a more fulfilling life.
“As we get older, yes, we know that time is coming,” Field said. “We try to make it the best quality of life for them…We’re here to help you live a better life.”
Montano specializes in connecting elders and caregivers with options wherever they are at in the process of needing help as they age. Oedekoven said the key is to take the step.