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Making the Transition to Senior Living: One Family’s Story

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenJune 19, 2019

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Moving a parent or senior loved one to an assisted or senior living community can be one of the most difficult and emotional transitions a family can go through. We are more than happy to help families with their senior living search during this time and recently, one of the wonderful families we had the pleasure of working with was nice enough to sit down with us and share their senior living story.

Learn more from one family’s experience about making the transition to senior living.

How Senior Living Advisors Can Help Families Make the Transition to Senior Living

Many people are not aware of how difficult caring for parents and senior loved ones can be until their family is confronted with the fact that Dad or Mom can no longer take care of themselves — or need to be moved into a more fitting senior living care environment. Often times, people are blindsided by what’s involved as the roles reverse and parents begin to need more care.

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Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

It’s in these situations that A Place for Mom can help families navigate the uncertainty of financing and finding appropriate senior care for their loved ones. Our expert Senior Living Advisors help families throughout North America each day with these types of situations.

One such advisor helped Ann Phillip’s family find a residential care home, Eva and Erma’s House — an ideal match, according to all parties involved — for their mother and grandmother, Sarah Seilheimer, who was 90-years-old at the time of the search.

How One Family Found the Right Place for Mom

Read Ann Phillip’s story below to gain insight into how her family made the transition to senior living:

“I tried desperately to keep Mom at her apartment in Christian City, Georgia because she kept telling me how happy she was and enjoyed the company of her cat. I had caregivers coming in four hours a day to aid her and make sure she got her meals, had regular baths and received appropriate care. However, it was evident that she was starting to slide; her appetite was dwindling to almost nothing and she fell a couple of times. Her last trip to the doctor resulted in the doctor insisting that Mom needed “around the clock care” and it was time I admitted that to myself as well. Still, I felt Mom would be totally unhappy, so I hesitated to act or react at that time. Shortly after that, however, Mom had a really bad episode involving another fall.

My daughter began researching senior living options online as she knew how very upset I was with the whole situation. It was she who found a site called “A Place for Mom” and completed an application online to see if they could help. In less than 24 hours, I received a call from a senior living advisor, Jenny, and her compassion, knowledge and understanding set us on the path to Eva and Erma’s House.

Jenny was amazing. She knew my family’s financial abilities as well as my Mom’s and my needs. Within hours, she had e-mailed me four possibilities for senior living communities within miles of my house, which was important for me as I wanted mom to be close. I now realize that Jenny knew my needs at the time better than I did.

Jenny had made an appointment for me to visit Jill Cremens, owner at Eva and Erma’s house, and when I pulled up and saw the house I couldn’t believe it — I was expecting an institution, but instead, I pulled up to a 70s ranch home, with no signs of wheelchairs anywhere. The owner was charming, enthusiastic and helpful. We sat down and went over how I could make this happen financially and what the house would do for Mom. She explained the in-house care the residents would receive and gave us a tour through the darling kitchen and lovely home.

Truthfully, I was initially very unsure about the transition, but after my talk with the owner and meeting the in-house caregiver and seeing the room where Mom would live, I realized this was the “perfect” place for her. So without ever visiting another community, I made the decision that indeed this move was the right decision for all involved.

The owner also gave me the fabulous news that the house was pet-friendly and that Mom could bring her darling cat and companion, Sugar. So all our problems were solved.

The next step was to try to arrange the finances and again, our advisor came to the rescue! Jenny could not have been more helpful in putting in the application to the VA for survivor benefits or working with me to enable me to make the necessary steps for Mom. She even set me up with a lawyer she worked with to do a health care directive, power of attorney and will.

My total cost for Mom having 24/7 care plus three meals a day is not much more than I was paying for caregivers, food and rent previously. I cannot say the move has not put me in financial hardship as Mom only receives social security and a small insurance payment per month, but once the VA benefits are approved, that will all be resolved. The point is, that hardship would exist no matter what, and to see my Mom today is worth any inconvenience I might have had as she is so happy in her new home.

I waited until packing day to tell Mom about the move as I didn’t want to disrupt her routine any more than necessary. She took the news very well, but of course, couldn’t remember the details once the conversation had ended. My daughter and I packed, with her watching before the trucks came to carry her belongings to Eva and Erma’s. My daughters and I worked together on the move. One took the cat for shots while the loading was going on, then came back to the old apartment to pick up Mom so they would make the trip to their new home together. The other daughter positioned at Eva and Erma’s so she could direct the movers as to where to put the furniture we had chosen for her beautiful room, then took them to my house (now two minutes away from Mom’s new home) to store the rest. Then, we all returned to Eva and Erma’s and while Mom sat in her lift chair in the middle of the room, we filled her drawers with her belongings, hung pictures and set up the TV. Mom was confused, but everything around her was her own, so she wasn’t upset.

For a few days, mom asked when I was taking her back home. However, it was clear how much she enjoyed the constant attention of the caregivers and the company of the other ladies that live at Eva and Erma’s. She was used to being alone in her apartment, with her cat by her side, so at first, she stayed in her room with her cat. Very soon, however, she started choosing a seat in the living room with the company of the other residents and becoming more social.

Mom loves having company and is spoiled with the constant care. As her caregiver says, “Your Mom goes to bed happy and gets up happy in the morning.” When I can’t visit for a couple of days, caregivers will share Mom’s activities and send me pictures, just to keep me updated. Mom is smiling in every one of them!

Just a month and a half later after the move, I watch with untold joy as Mom has resumed eating every bite on her plate and in-between meal snacks. She acts happy, looks great and is now living her own life.

I think that many of us — the adult children and loved ones of those in Mom’s situation — forget that even though the ability to get around and memories are greatly diminished with age, it’s still important for our parents and senior loved ones to lead their own life. The feeling that we are not doing enough to repay them for the life they gave us, drives many of us to make decisions that truly may not be the best one for our loved ones or ourselves.

I really feel that by deciding to move Mom to Eva and Erma’s House, her life will be happier, healthier and longer… and so will mine. I hope that by reading my story it will help some of you when making these all important decisions.”

About the Author

Ann Phillips, daughter of Sarah Seilheimer, age 90.

Has your family already made the transition to senior living? What was your experience like? We’d like to hear your family’s stories in the comments below.

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Dana Larsen
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