“I want to go into a nursing home!” You’d be hard pressed to find anyone utter those words. Moving from the comfort and familiarity of home is something 90 percent of AARP members surveyed don’t want to do—even when life throws them a curveball.
No surprise really! Moving is a stressful event in anyone’s life, never mind for someone whose health is declining, friends are dying, and the idea of those so-called golden years is heavily tarnished. The only thing that isn’t changing is their surroundings.
Loving Touch In-Home Care has helped more than a thousand people in eastern Maine remain at home as they navigate the challenges of growing older. For most, it is their longtime home, but for others it’s an apartment, independent living, even assisted living.
As one woman we cared for wisely remarked, “Well, they certainly have found a way to keep us alive a whole lot longer…problem is they haven’t figured out what to do with us.”
Lillian was in her late 80’s when we first met. She was getting by with a little help from Loving Touch just a couple of hours a week. Her caregiver, Sarah, would take her grocery shopping, lug the groceries into her apartment, and methodically place them on the shelf right where Lillian could reach them. This routine went on for a few years until one day Lillian ended up in the hospital.
It was a game changer. Now in her 90’s, a woman who used to be fiercely independent became dependent on Loving Touch for pretty much everything. This routine went on without a hitch until one night she couldn’t make it from her living room to her bedroom and Lillian found herself back in the hospital. A few days later I received a call from her.
“Donna,” she said, “they are telling me I should go into a nursing home. I don’t want someone telling me when to get up, when to eat, and what to eat. I want to come home.” We brought Lillian home where she passed away five months later with her caregiver by her side.
Just to be clear, I am not saying that having a person you don’t know come into your home to give you a shower is a comfortable situation. However, when the right caregiver walks through the door and into your life, it becomes a relationship that actually “improves” with age.
Take Clif, who didn’t agree with his daughter’s plan for Loving Touch to come into his home and help him. If memory serves, his words were “I don’t need them!” Four years later he feels much differently—he and his caregiver take art classes, go for day trips, and enjoy each other’s company.
My time as owner of Loving Touch has helped me understand the challenges of growing older. Getting to know our clients and finding out what is important to them has even greatly influenced how I interact with my own mother. I no longer insist that my mother follow the diet that doctors recommend for her. She hates it! If her one joy in life is eating a grilled rib-eye with corn on the cob loaded with butter (NOT allowed on her diet), who am I to discourage it? I encourage anyone with aging parents or grandparents to learn all they can about the benefits of aging in place and the many services available.