From Taker of Care To Caretaker: Finding A New Home For Mom To Flourish

Capital Senior Living is about family. Our employees are our family. Our residents are our family. Their adult children are our family. It’s that sense of family that makes us different and helps us rise to the top in the senior living industry. While none of us may be related by blood, it’s our passion, our dedication and our loyalty that have bound us since 1990. Whether you are a past, present or future member of our family, we want you to feel like a part of it right now. In the coming weeks, you will meet a few more of the many people who embody our spirit of family. We have already introduced you to an Executive Director, Maintenance Director, Food Services Director and Activities Director, and even one of our residents, a veteran of World War II. Continue to discover the difference with Capital Senior Living.

Meet Karen M., daughter of a current resident at The Waterford at Levis Commons

Growing up, most children see their parents as superheroes. They are bigger. They are stronger. They have all of the answers. They know exactly how to apply bandages to the cuts and scrapes of life.

Then, one day, after years of their nurturing, lecturing and rescuing, the parent/child roles begin to shift. 

Taking care of those who took care of you is part of the circle of life. Despite this inevitable reality, the transition from a taker of care to a caretaker is something one never feels truly prepared for.

“Just like raising a child, there is no manual for taking care of your parents,” shares Karen M., daughter of a current resident at The Waterford at Levis Commons. While her mother has been thriving in the senior living community in Perrysburg, Ohio since February of 2014, much of Karen’s story and message begins before researching senior living communities for her superhero to call home.

“My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and my mom became his sole caregiver during his last months,” explains Karen. Like many caregivers, her mother began putting all of her time and energy into taking care of Karen’s father and therefore neglected to take care of herself.

“She basically let herself go,” Karen says, holding back tears. “It’s hard not to get emotional when I think about it. You never want to see someone you love suffering.”

Her mother was then in the hospital for a while trying to repair her health.

Once returning home, Karen had the difficult conversation with her mother, explaining it was no longer in mom’s best interest to live alone. While she was not as resistant as some seniors who face this transition, she still wanted her independence and decided she would rather live in an Assisted Living community than with her children. “When you’re young, you never think you’ll be in this situation. My mom was the same way. But the reality is, many of us will be.”

Advice for adult children moving elderly parents into a senior living community

When asked her advice for other adult children who will be in this situation one day, Karen stresses the importance of ensuring loved ones are maintaining their health and well-being long before they’re unable to live alone. “If you’re a caretaker, you must still take care of yourself,” Karen stresses. “At the end of the day, you’re only hurting yourself and the people around you if you neglect yourself of this.”

In addition to ensuring one’s parents or loved ones are providing themselves with proper care, Karen emphasizes the need to be prepared ahead of time. “Don’t wait to start researching senior living communities or financing options for your loved ones when they desperately need it. This is something you want to be thinking about in advance. So if something does happen, you’re prepared and not making such a big decision in a short amount of time.”

Talking to others who have been in your shoes can also be helpful in Karen’s opinion. Whether seeking advice in a church group, senior center or from a healthcare professional or insurance provider, speaking to others who have been there and understand the responsibilities you’re taking on can have a big impact on your spirit. “It’s something so many experience yet not enough discuss beyond their own family members.”

Finding the right community

When it is time to choose the senior living community your loved one will call home, choose a place the whole family can call home. “Not only has mom built relationships with both the residents and staff, but I have as well,” Karen says with a big, warm smile. “I visit mom at least two to three times a week – trying not to hover because she loves participating in the community’s daily activities – and I love being greeted and approached by all of the friendly faces each day. I had a minor surgery recently and my mom was overwhelmed with questions about how I was doing from the staff. That’s not something that happens just anywhere.”

“The care and support that the Executive Director and the rest of The Waterford team show is above and beyond what probably goes into their positions. They provide peace of mind and reassure me they’ll never give up on my mom."

In addition to spectacular service, the senior living community in Perrysburg, Ohio provides a variety of flexible financing options for Karen and her family. "We even found out that mom qualified for veteran benefits due to my dad’s service. That was huge."

Healthy and thriving with three children and 10 grandchildren, Karen has no plans for slowing down anytime soon. However, when that day does come, she admits she could see herself at The Waterford at Levis Commons. “I always joke that they can just move me right into my mom’s apartment,” Karen jokes. "Maybe it will become a family tradition."