Grandmother’s Few Choices

When your mother and father were faced a generation ago with
the challenge of how to care for your failing grandmother, they
had only a few choices: They could leave her at home and set
up shifts with other relatives to bring her meals and help with
chores. They could bring her into their own home with all of the
disruption that move would entail, weighed against your parents’
satisfaction in knowing they were demonstrating their great love
for her. Or, they could send her to a nursing home, where the
care would be professional, but she would feel at sea, perhaps
abandoned.

stairlift straight

In the years since your parents had to make that fateful decision
for their own parents, the field of senior care has matured
far beyond what your parents would have recognized as
alternatives.

Taking Advantage of the Advances in Care
Science’s knowledge of what actually happens to our bodies and
minds as we pass into old age has grown exponentially, producing
therapies undreamed of years ago and dispelling many of the
myths about old age. Those advances have also allowed seniors to
live longer, thereby leading to more options in care.
For example, senility (or cognitive decline), it is now understood,
is not a normal part of healthy aging. There are certain
changes in cognitive health that will occur as people age, such
as a slower learning pace. However, cognitive decline may be
prevented, or at least forestalled, by relatively simple measures,
such as remaining physically active, controlling high blood pressure,
and regularly engaging in social activities. Alzheimer’s, on
the other hand, has been recognized as a specific aging-related
disease, and although there is not yet a cure (or a proven means
of prevention), billions are being spent on its research, and the
treatment of Alzheimer’s patients has greatly improved.
In previous eras, the infirm were generally encouraged to go
easy on themselves physically. However, we now know that physical
activity can improve health and quality of life for people of
all ages—including seniors.

Aside from being better able to fight
chronic diseases, seniors who exercise have stronger hearts, their
muscles are more fit and flexible, their bones and joints strengthened,
and their moods enhanced. Exercise helps decrease the
need for hospitalizations, doctor visits, and even medications.
Moreover, in part because of these advances, seniors have many
more options than staying home alone, moving into a grown
child’s home, or going to a nursing home. Those choices and
how to make them are in large part the subject of this site.