Marcia Houchin has been employed with Agemark Senior Living for more than 30 years. As Agemark’s National Director of Life Enrichment, she developed LifeCycles, Agemark’s signature, holistic approach to maximizing physical, social, intellectual and spiritual wellness. Marcia is responsible for training, coaching and developing Life Enrichment Coaches at each of Agemark’s 21 communities. She now has the unique experience of both working in the industry and navigating the role of an adult child to parents in senior living. This blog is first in a new series, “Silver Linings”.
As both a member of the Agemark management team and a daughter of nearly-90-year-olds in senior housing, my perspective during this unprecedented time of a national pandemic is unique. Here are all the reasons why I’m grateful.
Professional oversight is 24/7
I have wonderful siblings. One lives three states away; two of them are RNs, with years of elderly patient experience. Only two of us could reach my parents within 45 minutes when called upon, depending on the weather and other obstacles. But because we’re all still working there’s no way any of us can make the daily visual checks they’re getting now from Community staff.
It gives me incredible peace of mind to know that a caring professional will respond to my folks in minutes, whether it’s an emergency or not, and let me know if they observe any troubling changes.
I know my folks are safe
Safety is a priority at my parents’ senior living community. In addition to all the regular protocols for cleanliness and safety procedures, I know the staff are following all the recommended guidelines to protect my parents from unsafe conditions and disease transmission, including exposure to coronavirus.
Communication is so much better
My dad has early dementia; my mom does not. One cannot tell me and the other doesn’t want to tell me everything that’s going on. Neither has gotten the hang of email or cell phones or texting, so when I need information, I know I can contact someone at the community and get an immediate response with objective, professional insight.
In addition to this access, I appreciate the regular emails, letters and phone calls from the Community’s management – especially regarding updates to its COVID-19 precautions.
They still have places to go, people to see!
If my parents were still living at home, their leisure activity options would be severely limited now with the threat of COVID-19. Access to a well-rounded activity program is a Godsend, and I love that they’re getting extra exercise every time they walk down the hall to join a Bible study or use the NuStep. More than once my mom has said, “If we hadn’t moved in when we did, I think I would have been in a wheelchair by now.”
Now that they can’t go to church or invite non-resident friends to a bridge game, I’m even more grateful that my parents’ Community is showing movies, streaming worship services, planning extra Bingo games, rotating library books, and so much more. In a good congregate setting, social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.
Services are even more important now
Laundry, housekeeping, nutritious meals, medication delivery, transportation… my siblings and I had cobbled together good people to provide delivery of these services to my parents when they were still living at home. But… there were gaps. For example, help with grocery shopping didn’t ensure a well-rounded menu. And when it came to transportation, we uneasily accepted the fact that our parents were still driving.
What a relief now to know that Community management will not only ensure these services but has systems in place to meet quality standards. This includes background checks and providing substitutes when employees cannot fill their shift. In this time of pandemic, it is critical that my mom and dad have the consistent and reliable services that can only be provided by a senior living community environment.