My Father died nineteen years ago at age 66, leaving our mother to live alone. Over the last 5 years my brother, sisters, and I struggled to help her stay in her own home. We had a schedule in which one of us would visit her on a daily basis to make sure she was safe, provide a meal, make sure she was taking her medications, and assist her with the multiple tasks taking care of a home involves. When she was no longer able to drive, our worries increased. She appeared angry and withdrawn, and her personal care and appearance declined.
My mother had become familiar with ARC when my aunt lived there. I remember the first time we took her to visit—she marveled at what a nice place it was—“for other people”. My aunt had so many positive comments about living there that we began to think it could be right for our mother. Sara Fawcett worked with us over the course of many months to help my mom and us to see that her life could be so much more enjoyable than it currently was—and to help my siblings and I see that sharing the responsibility for her care didn’t mean we loved her less. We finally convinced Mom to do a “trial stay” for a week…and she has never left.
My Mom says she has no intention of ever returning to her previous home. She says she’s “very content”—she likes her apartment because she can be alone when she wants to be but she has meals prepared, medications brought to her, laundry done and many, many opportunities to participate in activities if she chooses. And participate she does! Shopping trips, going out to dinner, museums, area attractions, religious activities, bingo, movies, puzzles, library books, etc. She has people her age, with common interests, to spend time with. My siblings and I joke that we have trouble fitting in a visit between her social activities.
My Mom has also become much more interested in her personal appearance. She has wanted to shop for new clothes, wears jewelry daily, and has taken advantage of the onsite beauty parlor for hair care. She is pleasant to be with and smiles and laughs more than I have seen in years. She comments frequently about how much she likes the ARC staff and smiles and talks to all the other residents. In short, she appears happy and thriving. Instead of feeling guilty, worried, and upset when I leave her now, I smile and thank God for the blessing of ARC.
Who should consider living at ARC? I think anyone alone in their own home with limited opportunities to socialize or who struggle to care for themselves and their home. It’s a difficult process to make such a profound life change but the benefits can be remarkable. My family and I are grateful to Sara, Colleen, Sue and all the staff at ARC who are helping us make our mother’s life happier and safer. Thanks to them, we now can enjoy the time we spend with our mom!
Daughter of Doris Vanden Heuvel—resident of ARC since October 3, 2011