November 2008 Issue
Home Sweet Home
Continuing-care communities offer special services to help seniors remain in their homes.
Your house is your world, filled with a lifetime’s worth of memories and memorabilia. And even though your health needs are changing, the thought of moving to get the care you need is akin to traveling to another universe.
As the sun rises over Wesleyan Village, the games begin: A fitness instructor leads an exercise class, a rousing session of bingo ensues and an art teacher conducts a jewelry-making workshop.
Although the Elyria community is renowned for the continuing-care services it offers to the 400-plus residents who call it home, the folks congregating this morning don’t live on campus: They’re part of the village’s Monday-through-Friday, 7 a.m.-to-5 p.m. Day Away adult day services program.
Some Day Away participants own their own homes and come simply for the socialization the program affords. Others live with family members who work during the day, and just need a little assistance with walking or personal care. A few, struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, wouldn’t be able to live at home with loved ones if Day Away wasn’t part of their weekday routine.
“When we started this program 17 years ago, we had 25 participants,” recalls Day Away director Anita Buchanan. “Now, that number has grown to 76, and we’re in the process of expanding to accommodate a waiting list.”
Jane Coleman echoes the sentiment many families express when she calls Day Away a lifesaver.
“The program has made things so much easier for me,” she says. “It could have been a nightmare otherwise.”
Coleman, a fifth-grade teacher in Lorain, enrolled her mother, 85-year-old Beverly Angros, in Day Away last year. It was a step, she says, that led to peace of mind for both mother and daughter.
“It took a lot of pressure off of me knowing I had to work, but still wanting to take care of mom,” Coleman says. “And she likes being part of Day Away. It’s become a part of her daily routine that she looks forward to.”
A former accountant who didn’t retire until she was 75, Angros enjoys word games, gardening projects, bird-watching expeditions, luncheons, dances, crafts, sing-alongs and movie matinees — all popular offerings in the weekly schedule of events.
“Mom has some memory issues,” Coleman says, “and when she’s home, she has a tendency to just sit. I really believe Day Away has helped keep her mind as sharp as it can be.”
Families wanting to enroll in Day Away are given a tour of Wesleyan Village, and each prospective participant is interviewed to get a handle on what their needs are.
“We’re interested in the whole person,” Buchanan says. “What they like, what they don’t like, what their working life was like. And we tailor-make a program of meaningful and stimulating activities for them based on that information.”
Day Away members belong to one of four groups: Falcons are there to make new friends, Eagles need a little help with activities of daily living, Orioles have minor memory problems, and Cardinals are dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s disease and need the most nursing care. The staffing ratio is 1:6, thus ensuring participants are given the attention they deserve.
“Our motto is: If you can do it at home, we can do it here,” Buchanan says, recalling only four instances over the past four years where someone was not admitted to Day Away because their limitations were just too great.
And, she adds, no matter what level of care each participant needs, dignity and respect are at the forefront.
“We never ever, ever, ever, talk to participants as if they are children,” Buchanan says. “We don’t even allow crayons or coloring books to be used in art projects.”
As baby boomers age and begin making decisions about their health care needs, Buchanan sees more programs like Day Away on the horizon.
“People are becoming more proactive in their choices,” she says. “It’s no longer about what the doctor is telling you or what the government is telling you. The landscape is becoming consumer-driven.
“Increasing numbers of people are making the decision that they want to stay in their home, not move to a nursing facility.
“We’re here,” Buchanan adds, “to help that be a reality.”
For more information about Day Away, visit www.villageliving.com or call 440/284-9288.
A Helping Hand
Crochet hook in hand, Marvada Marzluf sighs contently in the autumn sunshine that bathes her patio in golden light. The 91-year-old Columbus resident spends many afternoons there, fashioning afghans and lap throws for friends and family.
Although she’s coping with arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and poor circulation in her legs, Marvada doesn’t let physical discomfort get in the way of enjoying life.
“I love this house,” she says about the ranch home she’s lived in for 44 years. “This is where I want to be.”
And, thanks to Senior Independence, Marvada can do just that. A division of Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, Senior Independence is helping 3,500 other central Ohio residents remain where they want to be. (The program is available statewide through OPRS.)
“We’re seeing a trend where more people want to stay in their homes rather than move to a continuing-care community,” explains Senior Independence in Central Ohio executive director Linda Artis, about the program’s success.
“People today are aging healthier,” she adds. “At 75 or 80, you don’t have the health of a 20-year-old, but you may still be in pretty good shape — all you may need is a little help in your home. So the only option shouldn’t be to move somewhere else.
“[Communities like ours] recognize that in order for that to happen, we have to help.”
In Marvada’s case, that means visits by a team of Senior Independence support staff: a homemaker helps with light housekeeping once a week, and a personal-care assistant comes twice a week to help with bathing. A physical therapist also calls on Marvada to assist with leg-strengthening exercises.
When Marvada needed surgery earlier this year, a nurse stopped by every other day for six weeks to administer antibiotics and help change dressings.
“Everyone affiliated with Senior Independence is so supportive, sensitive and thorough,” says Marvada’s daughter, Joann Marzluf, a registered nurse. “The program is wonderful. It provides mind, body and spirit care — not only for mom, but for our entire family.
“We’re so happy to have the services and friendship Senior Independence offers.”
A medical/surgical nurse, Joann understands firsthand the struggles seniors often go through to maintain their independence.
“I see so many sad situations,” she says. “I’m thankful to not only have mom, but also for the fact that she’s independent and living in her own home in the familiar surroundings where she’s most comfortable.”
That desire to age in place, explains Artis, is one that’s never too early to address.
“We’re seeing more and more people in their early 60s and 70s coming to us to discuss their futures,” she says. “And that makes sense because they’re still in relatively good health, have thought about moving, and made the decision they really want to stay where they are.”
Through the Senior Independence program, clients discover what they need to do to make that a reality financially, and where to find the support services they may need. OPRS staff members also work with them to ensure the legal aspects of their future are stress-free, by tackling issues ranging from how to choose a power-of-attorney to creating a living will.
“Thankfully,” Artis says, “people are beginning to realize that they can’t just sit back and watch their futures unfold.”
For more information about the Senior Independence program, visit www.seniorindependence.org or call 614/433-0031.