Helping a loved one “age in place,” or remain in their home for as long as they are able while maintaining dignity and quality of life, is ideal. However, knowing where to start and who might be able to help can be overwhelming.
This is the type of care that Claire Sigal, a Sharp Home Health senior specialist, and her colleagues provided Joan Arant. Joan recently moved from the Northwest to live with her daughter, Dianne McCann, in her lovely home with lush gardens and sweeping views of La Mesa.
A lifelong resident of Medford, Oregon, Joan experienced health setbacks and was receiving home health care in her apartment where she lived independently. However, after Dianne and her brother, Bill Arant, and his wife, Jill, took turns visiting Medford several times to help care for their mother, they all decided it would be best — and Joan would be most comfortable — if she moved in with Dianne and her husband, Don.
With advice from Joan’s home health team in Oregon, Dianne was able to begin preparations for her mother’s arrival. She had a friend build ramps to allow her mother — who uses a motorized scooter — to move freely throughout her home and outside to her beautiful exterior patio and gardens.
Once Joan was in San Diego and under the care of Sigal and her team, including occupational therapist Rena Carlson, Joan and her daughter received additional suggestions. These included adding safety bars, a seat and a handheld showerhead in the shower to make bathing easier, and adding a box spring to raise Joan’s bed so that she could maneuver her bedside lift, an assistance device that helps her move from her scooter into bed, with greater ease.
“I don’t think anyone has a daughter like I do,” Joan says, when discussing all the work her daughter has done in her house to welcome her, much of which Dianne performed on her own. “I really could go on and on. Although I miss my friends in Medford, I love it here, and overall, it’s been fabulous.”
Dianne, in turn, has equal praise for her mother, believing it is Joan’s attitude that has made all the difference. “Mom has the best attitude and constantly goes with the flow — there’s no such thing as a pity party with her,” she says.
Both women agree that Sigal and her team also played a vital role in making Joan’s move a success. The Sharp Home Health team were honest about what really needed to be done within the home to allow Joan to live safely and comfortably. They were not quick to suggest broad changes or purchases and always kept them in the loop on affordable, available products and adjustments — from removing a chair from one side of the dining table for easy access during meals to buying a dressing stick and shoes with elastic laces that do not require tying.
“Claire and her team have been amazing,” says Dianne. “She is continuously asking me questions to determine what we really need and want, and guiding us toward things we didn’t even think to look into or know were available. She always goes to bat for Mom — helping us pursue the care or tools she needs — and then follows up to make sure we got them.”
The level of care Sigal’s team provided is not exclusive to Joan and her daughter. The Sharp Home Health providers regularly act as advocates for their patients, regardless of their resources.
“Our goal is to help a senior and their family do whatever it takes — working with the resources they have — to help them successfully and safely live in their home,” says Sigal. “We are passionate about ensuring that each individual’s needs are met; personal beliefs and wishes are respected; and quality of life is maintained as they age.”
As Joan rolls her scooter onto the back patio of her new home and looks out over the mountains on a sunny San Diego day, it’s obvious that Sigal and her colleagues have been successful in reaching their goal. “Really, who wouldn’t love this place? Along with all the great care, it’s why I recovered so fast!” Joan says.
This article is the final article in a series on helping seniors age in place. Past articles focused on senior safety in entryways, doorways, stairways and hallways; bathrooms; and the kitchen. More information on AARP’s HomeFit program can be found at aarp.org.
For the news media: To talk with Claire Sigal, about “aging in place” for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.