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

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.

When Lauren Frazer's husband suffered a stroke four years ago, a severe case of dementia eventually took over.

Frazer's husband, Arthur, who was 30 years her senior, went from living a fully independent life to being physically and mentally dependant on his wife.

Frazer, 45, said before he died two years ago, he required "round-the-clock" care and supervision.

"I'm friends with all the cops in town because they were always coming to my home. He had either wandered off, or someone found him in their yard, or he had found someone's phone and made a call," Frazer said.

Some days were worse than others, but Frazer said the bad days were the hardest on her children.

"I personally don't regret not putting him in a nursing home, but sometimes, I regret that our children had to see their father that way," Frazer said. "I tell them all the time that when it's my time, if I'm ever in the same situation, that I'd support their decision to send me to a nursing home."

Frazer said she knows it's a challenging decision for anyone to make for their loved ones, recognizing that her situation was unique because of the age of her late husband.

"I see both sides of the argument, and I don't want my children to do what I did with their father," she said. "I want them to enjoy their time with me and come visit me every Sunday and be happy to see me and know that I'm taken care of."

Leslye Smith, assistant manager of Victoria's Copperfield Village Senior Living, said she encounters the argument frequently with family members making the decision to move their parents into an assisted-living facility.

And while Copperfield Village is more akin to an all-inclusive neighborhood for seniors, rather than assisted living, Smith said she encounters elderly people reluctant to make the move to Copperfield.

"It's hard for people to see it until they get here. But once they get here, they see that they're relieved of the burden of cooking or hiring someone to maintain their home," Smith said. "They also get that sense of community. Half the time when they're at home, they're on a walker, underfed, sitting alone in the dark somewhere."

Smith said Copperfield allows seniors to enjoy their advanced years in an independent environment. And when they're in need of more assistance, she encourages them to advance to an assisted home or nursing care facility.

"We encourage it with our residents if we see the need because for some, there comes a time when they don't need to be alone," she said. "It's a hard decision, but it's a good one to make."

CON: Aging parents should stay at home



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