As Couples Age, Living Apart May Become Necessary

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On August 15, 2011, Posted by , In Home Care, By ,, , With No Comments
A recent story from The New Old Age Blog (New York Times) profiles a couple faced with unimagined separation because of their differing level of decline. A professor and his wife who has Parkinson’s disease moved into an assisted living facility where they could receive better care. The wife developed intensifying dementia, requiring more personal care than the assisted living facility could provide, and at age 85, his wife moved to another nearby facility better equipped to deliver the level of care she needed.  The professor stayed behind at the assisted living facility, and at age 87, is living alone for the first time in 55 years. He travels each day to visit her using public transportation and they have lunch, go for walks, and have conversations with each other. “These are the hardest kind of situations we deal with,” said Emily Saltz, a geriatric Care Manager at Elder Resources near Boston. The healthier partner may become the caregiver risking their own health under the stress and strain. Another alternative is a continuing care retirement community (C.C.R.C.) where residents have differing levels of personal care available and where residents can move to a higher level of care as needed. Ms. Saltz referenced a couple who had moved into separate wings in a C.C.R.C. in Massachusetts. The wife lived in the nursing home wing while the husband lived in independent living.  “She gets a lot of hands-on assistance; he gets somewhat of a life.” She also said, “They’re together everyday,” acknowledging it as a “bittersweet” solution. However, C.C.R.C.’s can reject these arrangements by rejecting applicants with serious health problems because it isn’t financially feasible to offer lifetime care if residents need help very soon after moving in.

Source: The New Old Age Blog, New York Times

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