Susan Ingalls was living in North Carolina, about 950 miles from her 87-year-old mother, Suzanne-Martha Piper Chandler (Sandy), in Peterborough, New Hampshire. But for Susan, with the recent death of her father and a hospital stay for her mother, that 950 miles felt more like the other side of the world. Susan worried that Sandy might not be able to live independently any longer, but what were the options?
Susan and Sandy are not alone in facing such life-changing circumstances. Many families today are facing the same transition, though they may come at it from different directions.
“Researching Assisted Living happens a few ways,” says Linda Amaral, Sales and Community Relations Director at Scott-Farrar at Peterborough. “Some people pre-plan and start to look for opportunities knowing that their health is declining. Other people come to us when a crisis has happened-- they've ended up in the hospital, and then a doctor or a social worker is making the recommendation that going home may not be the best option.”
Amaral says it’s also common for adult children to begin the search for Assisted Living on behalf of their parent.
That was the case for Susan. She grew up in Peterborough and lived there until 2014. Prior to moving, Susan tried unsuccessfully several times to convince her parents that they might be better off in a more supportive living situation, outside of their home, especially given her father's Parkinson's disease and the toll that his care took on her mother.
But it was after her father passed in April of 2018 and after Susan moved far from her childhood home that she recognized signs that her mom, Sandy, needed help. She knew Sandy didn’t need full-time nursing care, but also knew Sandy could no longer do everything by herself.
“That was an observation I began to make from 1,000 miles away, which is sometimes very challenging,”says Susan. “She had repeated health episodes. She was also grieving for my dad, so stress played a big factor.”
The desire to enhance her 87-year-old mother’s quality of life weighed on Susan. “Mom wasn't cooking meals,” Susan says. “She wasn't using the stove or the oven at all. She was letting her laundry go for long periods of time and complained that even making the bed took a toll on her. Mom wasn't participating in as many activities or visiting friends as she had done previously because she said she just didn't have the energy. And there were repeated phone calls over the course of a few months when mom really needed some assistance or at least someone to check her symptoms, which were mostly aches, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, shortness of breath, but there was no one there to help her."
On one of her many trips home this year, Susan toured Scott-Farrar at Peterborough, New Hampshire. Scott-Farrar provides Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care Assisted Living in the picturesque “Our Town”.
When Susan came back from the tour, Sandy, then hospitalized, was eager to hear how it went. Once she heard about Assisted Living and the opportunity, she exclaimed, “‘Well, did you take it? Call them back right now and sign me up!’” The family quickly made arrangements to move Sandy to Assisted Living at Scott-Farrar. Susan says the transition went more smoothly than she could have imagined.
“My mom says she loves her apartment, she thinks it is homey and cozy,” Susan says. “I think she especially likes the aspect that there's caring staff checking on her a couple times a day, administering her meds, and assisting her as needed. She likes the special little touches that they provide; pulling her bed covers down as though you're at a hotel, and just the checking; ‘Do you need something extra?’”
Sandy has a rich social life. "She thrives on her many friendships," Susan says. "Mom's day starts in the dining room with a tremendous breakfast, and it just keeps getting better from there! The meals are great and are spent with her many friends."
Those meals are all homemade under the guidance of Culinary Services Director Mike Gallagher, familiarly known as “Chef Mike,” whose daily soups win resident praise and whose special events, such as Friday Happy Hour and summer barbecues, draw residents in droves.
One challenge people face as they age is sometimes the strain of the upkeep of the home, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry can start to eat away at the pleasurable parts of life. Assisted Living can help relieve those burdens and make room for the best parts of life again.
Amaral says, “Most people don't want to leave their home, but once they do, the thing that I hear most often is that they wish they had done it sooner. The social aspect of life sometimes gets forgotten as being tremendously important. When you end up living alone, you can become isolated, especially when you start to lose friends or the ability to drive, and you're not working. When you're here, there are things to join into and there are different people around. You really do see people come alive.”
Susan’s description of Sandy’s busy social calendar underscores this observation;
“She drags other residents from one place to the other to join into the activities. Knitting club, cooking classes, painting, cards, bingo, shopping… She’s quite the recruiter,” Susan says, describing a life reinvigorated by a new, independent but assisted, home at Scott-Farrar.
"I can now live 950 miles away confident Mom is safe, well cared for, having fun and best of all is happy at Scott-Farrar!"