Location. Location. Location. You may think that’s important only in business, but it’s also important when considering health and quality-of-life. We call it the social determinants of health—a fancy phrase that means you’re likely to have better health outcomes when you live in an area that has less pollution, less crime, has sidewalks and offers easy access to fresh food and transportation.
In my March blog, I talked about improving affordability and access for home- and community-based services. One reason for this is that most seniors want to live in their own homes for as long as possible. But this is not a one-size-fits-all model. For short- and long-term services and supports, such as those managed by CICOA, you’re also likely to have better health outcomes when you have a choice about the care setting and provider.
There are many terrific options for people—from one’s own home to assisted living and skilled nursing facilities—and CICOA is proud to work in partnership with many such organizations. We know environment does impact health and quality of life, and one’s aging journey can be very different based on where you live, the care you need, and the resources that are available.
This blog continues that discussion by sharing the experiences of three members of my own family.
Deciding on the best place for long-term care for family
Breast cancer cut my mom’s life short. Early on, she was very clear that she wanted to live at home for as long as possible. She said she’d let us know when she was ready for us to call hospice. As Mamma got sicker, we had modifications done to the home, including adding grab bars in her bathroom. My sister – her primary caregiver – contacted a community service organization that offered senior companions. The volunteers came to her house a couple of times each week to keep my mom company, watch Wheel of Fortune and the nightly news with her, and give my sister a break. We enlisted paid aides, too, to support our mother in her wishes to stay at home. When she was ready for hospice, she let us know.
My grandma’s aging journey was much different. Grandma owned a house on a hill in Atlanta, and she wanted to stay there until her dying day, but that was neither practical nor safe. She did not have medical conditions that prevented her from living alone, but at her advanced age, taking care of the house was challenging, and no family members lived nearby to help her. She also didn’t have resources for in-home care. The best environment for my grandmother was in an assisted living facility, where staff could care for her, and family members could visit and oversee her care. Grandma lived to be 103.
My father-in-law was one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met. After he was diagnosed with vascular dementia, it became clear it wasn’t safe for him to live alone. Because he liked to wander, his daughters moved him into a senior community that provided memory care. He needed trained professionals who could keep an eye on him.
Working together to provide the best senior care options
I know from my own experience that it truly takes a village to care for aging parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I also know, as this wave of aging baby boomers continues, our village is going to need to work together to overcome obstacles to quality care: inappropriate environments, lack of resources, staffing shortages for home health nursing and health aides, lack of knowledge and skills, and negative attitudes toward seniors.
Yes, CICOA’s specialty is caring for the elderly, but this is not a challenge we can meet alone. We’ll be leaning on medical partners, other community organizations, and our city, county and state leaders. CICOA is dedicated to finding creative solutions to provide the best care in the best location for a growing older adult population, but we need your help to make it possible.
Be there for the seniors in your Central Indiana community. Donate now to help us address the critical needs of our aging loved ones and neighbors.
As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.