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Can Mom & Dad Stay Together?

By Judy Given, Director of Campus Development at Park Manor and Abe’s Garden

“…in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” This vow was spoken by many of our parents on their wedding day. For those who remained married through thick and thin, it’s inconceivable that they may need to spend some of their last days living apart from one another. And yet, this is what is happening with increasing frequency as our senior population lives longer and finds themselves needing more care than their spouse can provide.

I work as Director of Campus Development for Abe’s Garden and Park Manor Senior Lifestyle Community. In this role, I often speak to people who are in this situation. This week I spoke with Lindsey, the daughter of a couple who live in Boca Raton, Florida. Lindsey described her mom as being a very social 82-year-old who enjoys playing bridge several times a week. She still drives, cooks and enjoys water aerobics with her friends. Recently, she hasn’t been able to participate in those activities because her 86-year-old husband Phil has become increasingly confused and easily upset when left without supervision. He has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and his memory problems are becoming more pronounced. She can no longer leave him home alone, and he stays glued to her side at all times. Lindsey arranged for in-home care for her dad, but this agitates him, and he will not allow his wife to leave him with “that person”.

Lindsey is looking to move her parents closer to her, but hasn’t been able to find a community where they will both get what they need. She recognizes that dad needs a secure environment with programming specifically designed for his Alzheimer’s disease, and mom needs activities and social opportunities similar to what she’s had in Florida. After 45 years of sharing a life, home and bed, the idea of moving them to a new city and into separate residences, even on the same campus, has been difficult to consider. She called me hoping that we might be able to keep them together.

Currently there are few options where they can live together and get their diverse needs met. The best most of those seeking can find is a community with a variety of care options. A Life Plan Community, formerly called Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offers Independent and Assisted Living, Memory and Nursing Care on the same campus. A person can “age in place” moving from one level to another as the need arises. This usually requires a large buy-in fee ($300,000 or more), as well as monthly service fees and will not necessarily be able to keep the couple together. Assisted Living Communities may offer a day program which would meet dad’s needs and they can bring in a care partner to assist them in the evenings. While Lindsey’s mom would probably be better suited in an Independent Living community, this alternative will most likely be the best option to meet both of her parents’ needs.

Park Manor/Abe’s Garden offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Independence Plus (in-home support), as well as Abe’s Garden, a licensed Assisted Living Memory Care community. We also provide community-based programing, including At Home with Abe’s Garden (in-home caregiver training), Abe’s Garden Community Group (early stage dementia day program) and The Club (day program).

While we offer most of the continuum of care on our campus (excluding nursing), we remain a rental model without the high entrance fees.

For more information about any of these programs, please contact Judy Given at 615-733-2682 or email at jgiven@abesgarden.org.

Bill Purcell, son of resident
"Abe’s Garden® really is a world class, cutting-edge, special, loving warm place. When my mother needed that very thing, it was there."
Industry Professional
“I was thoroughly impressed with the community [after taking a tour], yet I was even more impressed with your focus on continual learning and improvement.”
The Club Participant’s Wife
“The music instruction piece is very well done, and I commend Abe's [Garden] for creating it. I am also grateful for the incredible opportunities that [my husband] has every week day at Abe's.”