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CON: Aging parents should stay at home

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Feb. 2, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 1, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.

Ruthie Nelson, 86, of Victoria gives her caregiver, Eva Cruz, 34, of Victoria, a hug as Cruz prepares lunch for Nelson and her housemate, Bobbye Altman. Cruz has been a personal caregiver for four years and takes care of Nelson and Altman six days a week. "When you're here, all you do is laugh," Cruz says.

Helen Salinas had a tough call to make a few years ago.

Her father, Frank Garcia, suffered a stroke in 2005, and his health slowly started to decline.

Salinas, a disabled registered nurse, said she and her family made the decision that rather than sending her father to a home for seniors, they would take care of him at home.

"We were empty nesters, and his health was starting to get worse," Salinas said. "He was adamant against going into a nursing home facility. We wanted to honor his wishes as long as we can."

Salinas said her children and other family members have been key to the success of taking care of her father.

They have made themselves available in recent years to help drive Garcia to doctor's visits and generally care for him when needed.

"It's been a learning process, and I couldn't have done it without them," she said.

Garcia, 69, said he's thankful to be able to spend time with his family, and it allows him a sense of independence that he lost when he had to give up his former home and ability to drive.

"There's no freedom in a nursing home. You're not a self-sufficient person there," Garcia said. "I would tell all children making this decision to stay out of the nursing homes."

Stephanne Williams, Caring Senior Service's agency director in Victoria, said she, too, prefers at-home care to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

"No matter how old you are, you want to be at home," Williams said. "And when you get to the point of hospice, you want to try to do all that at home."

Williams said when her mother-in-law needed end-of-life care, she hired Caring Senior Service to visit her daily.

At home, the company's staff provided what's referred to as activities of daily living, or bathing, dressing, hair and teeth care and medication reminders. There's also light housekeeping, meal preparations and transportation offered through the services of the company.

"It keeps them independent. They're not in a facility where their decisions are being made for them," Williams said.

Whatever the decision, both Williams and Salinas recognize it's difficult to decide what's right for every family's circumstances.

"There are nursing facilities that do a good job. But I would say do that when it is your only option," Williams said.

PRO: More care, attention for parents may be possible with professional help



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