‘Elder orphans’ have a harder time aging in place

Why we need more services for those without family

By Carol Marak for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Thriving in a place that’s safe and comfortable, surrounded by cozy memories, is a natural desire of older adults. We treasure independence and want a space to call our own, and we prefer that place to reflect the person we’ve become. We understand that aging bids compromise, and once 65 hits, the changes bring reminders that we’re no longer the same. We don’t move as quickly, we don’t multitask as well, nor do we easily adapt. Those are the simple cues. As we age, the physical and mental challenges delivered through loss, immobility and dependence are the ones that put us at higher risks.

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Finding her PATH home


When Janet Nelson broke her hip a little more than two years ago, she could hardly call it a blessing, but something good did happen as a result.

“I was living in a different assisted living facility, and things weren’t going well. I broke my hip, then after my hospital stay, I came here to go through the PATH (post acute to home) program for rehab. I was so impressed with the care here that I chose to move here permanently,” said Janet.

Janet’s daughter, Dot, was grateful that an unfortunate situation led to a good outcome.

“Mom was so impressed with her care here. We moved her to assisted living upstairs, then back down again for rehab, and the therapists recommended skilled care. That was difficult to hear, but the staff has made the transition smooth,” said Dot. “We love the people here, and the nurses make her very comfortable. And Donna has really been the difference maker. She involved family in the care meetings, and she always follows up on things. If she says she’ll take care of it, she actually takes care of it.”

Donna Hunter, social services designee, is well regarded for her ability to help residents and their families navigate the choices available in a senior living community.

“Mom was in a bad physical and mental situation from various complications, and Donna was a huge help. She never got exasperated with it and just kept tweaking until mom was satisfied. She is one of the most sincere people I’ve ever met, without a doubt,” said Dot. “Presbyterian Manor is a Christian facility, and she is truly a shining model of that. She is a servant leader, a God-loving, spirit-filled woman doing a job she believes in.”

Janet is now settled into skilled care and is finding the opportunities to enjoy her interests, which include reading books by her favorite authors, James Patterson and Danielle Steel. She also enjoys visits from family, which include her five children (with late husband Rowan), 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Her family is grateful for the wonderful care she receives, but when it comes to recognizing exceptional customer service, Janet herself is an expert.

“I worked as a waitress at Cecil’s, a popular restaurant here in town, for years. I was a waitress and manager at the country club, too, along with several other restaurants. I also worked at Wal-Mart until I was 76, so I know good service when I see it,” said Janet.

After navigating the senior living journey with her mother, Dot has helpful insight for those in the decision-making phase.

“This is a difficult journey for anyone, but when you’re in a facility with caring people, it makes such a difference. My prayer for anyone who goes through this journey is to be coupled with people who walk through it with you. With all that’s occurred, it’s been a hard journey. Having people who in some ways have filled the place that some family members don’t fill has been wonderful. Mom’s relationship with these people helps fill a void,” said Dot. “It’s a journey that is spiritual and emotional, and the people here have been wonderful. Every time I see mom and have to leave I feel at peace. I don’t have to go to sleep anymore worrying about her. She’s in a caring place.”

Back to where it all began

carringtons-pic-1 When Elsie Carrington met her future husband, Joe, she was teaching at Fulton High School, where Joe frequented the basketball games. He was just coming off six years in the Army, where he’d served during World War II. She’d moved to Fulton from Cape Girardeau after receiving her teaching degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1947. While she didn’t divulge what initially attracted her to Joe, she did reveal what “got her wheels turning.”

“He was the only man who had a car, and he would haul all the girls around. He was our taxi, and he was available,” said Elsie.“I lived at 811 Center Street before I met Joe and moved out in 1951 when we got married.”

joe-and-elsie-carrington811 Center Street, the address where Joe once picked Elsie up in his infamous car, is now the address of where they’ve chosen to live in retirement, Fulton Presbyterian Manor. Their journey has come full circle, but Joe’s humor overshadows the irony. When asked if this coincidence influenced their decision to move here, he quipped, “No, it was the only place available!”

How to save money when you travel in retirement

The ‘Vagabonding Through Retirement’ authors offer practical ideas

By Bill and Ina Garrison Mahoney for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

(Bill and Ina Garrison Mahoney are a globetrotting couple who recently wrote Vagabonding through Retirement: Unusual Travels Far From Our Paris Houseboat.)

To save on expenses when you travel in retirement, it helps to first ask yourself a few questions: What are your travel goals? Do you want to be a passive observer or an active participant? Are you on a quest for information about the country and its people or is your interest in visiting museums and seeing tourist attractions?

Once you’ve determined your reasons for traveling, you can then decide on a destination and begin employing some of our suggestions below for ways to save.

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An invitation to dump your obligations

If you’re feeling overbooked, this simple anti-time management tool can set you free

By Achim Nowak for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

It seems like the impossible dream: To carve out unobligated time.

We often complain that we don’t have enough time to do all the things we wish to do. For many of us, it’s a true statement. We truly don’t have enough time. We ardently desire a “time out” from our obligations.

Some call this time out “me time.” A faintly derogatory term. It smacks of self-indulgence and narcissism. I feel queasy when I hear these descriptors because I don’t wish to be thought of having either of those traits.

The moment we claim a slice of “me time,” we instantly obligate this time. We get the spa treatment we have postponed for months. The facial that is overdue. We finally play squash with our buddy Raul. Go to see the French movie with our friend Lori that she has raved about. All cool things, I know. Still obligated time.

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