Enriching Our Elders

10 years ago, Ray Davis’ life changed irrevocably. Mr. Davis, a strong, vibrant man who had worked since the tender age of 8, had been living the American dream. He had been happily married to his beautiful wife, Dorothy, for more than 40 years, he owned a thriving business and he played ball and remained active in his free time. In 2005, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and within two short years, the debilitating affects began to take hold, worsening each year. Now, he has great difficulty walking and needs assistance with daily activities such as getting dressed and feeding himself. In fact, he now requires help almost 24 hours a day.

His daughter, Sheila Storey, explains, “Through my dad’s disease, he has slowed down greatly. This year, it was clear my dad needed extensive help and my mother was not able to keep up with all he needed. He was fragile and required assistance each night, and inevitably, she was completely worn out. We needed relief and were trying to figure out what to do.”

Ms. Storey is not alone. Many Americans find themselves wondering how to best care for their aging parents and the seniors in their lives. Questions abound: Can my loved one stay in his current living arrangement? Should my mom or dad go to an assisted living facility? What is the best solution for my situation?

As the ranks of individuals who are age 65 and older are swelling by the thousands, there is no simple answer. One thing is clear – many individuals are facing the same dilemma, deciding how to best care for their aging loved ones. According to the United States Census Bureau, over the next 35 years, the U.S. will experience considerable growth in its older population, and by 2050, the population of people age 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012. Baby boomers are largely responsible for the increase in the older population, as they began turning 65 in 2011, and the number of seniors will grow from 12 to 19 percent of the total U.S. population – a staggering 60 percent increase!

Several trends have emerged within the senior housing market. Specifically, over the past 10 years, a significant increase in the type of senior care is expected. A diverse selection of senior living options exist today, ranging from multigenerational homes, to senior apartments to assisted living care and memory care, which each provide various services based on need.

According to a 2014 study from the Pew Research Center, multigenerational households are becoming much more common throughout the U.S. In 1980, some 12 percent of families had two or more adult generations living under the same roof. Today, 18 percent do, and the total number of Americans with this living arrangement has doubled to 56.8 million. Many individuals are choosing homes designed for multiple generations when caring for aging parents or loved ones, as they need privacy and comfort for each family unit.

Lennar Homes has a longstanding history of building exceptional homes, including their NextGen “home within a home.” This housing solution provides added space, functionality and privacy for the growing needs of long-term guests and adjunct family members. Veronica “Ronnie” Pike, a new home consultant with Lennar Homes, explains, “We are seeing more and more folks desiring to have one or both parents live with them for a variety of reasons. This may include a need to cut costs, wanting help with child care or caring for and providing assistance to aging parents.” She continues, “Many grandparents want to spend more time with their children or grandchildren, but they do not desire the added upkeep and cost of maintaining a large home of their own. The NextGen solution from Lennar Homes is a perfect solution, and the Crown Ridge subdivision located in Frisco provides everything a family could want in terms of space, amenities and location.”

As the name suggests, Lennar’s NextGen series features a “home within a home” layout. Complete with adjoining private suites attached to the classic home design, the extra “home” is outfitted with its own entrance, garage, kitchenette, living room, washer and dryer, bedroom and bathroom. Designed to accommodate an additional family unit or long-term guest, this home design accounts for a level of privacy and independence you would not get in a traditional single-family home. Lennar has been one of the first homebuilders to perfect this concept, offering key factors like separate climate control, added living spaces and exceptional privacy for each family unit.

One of the NextGen floor plans (the Freedom Plan) offers the total package for those desiring a complete live-in option for a mother-in-law or parents within the same home structure. Providing a private suite, and more than 3,800 square feet in Prosper ISD, this floor plan features larger bedrooms and bathrooms and a small patio area with a private suite and living room area to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning while listening to the birds. “Within Crown Ridge, the NextGen concept is perfect because it allows folks their own privacy to cook, watch television and come and go at their leisure, without interrupting other family members in the home,” adds Ms. Pike. “This concept is really able to give mom or dad their independence and personal space while keeping everyone under one roof. It eliminates the cost of two mortgages, two utility bills and all of the other added expenses. It is like owning two homes for the price of one!”

A second option for exceptional senior living is assisted living residences, which have multiplied in recent years. These communities offer small apartments that residents can furnish with their own belongings. There is a common dining room where meals are served and a detailed plan of interesting, scheduled activities. Residents even have access to a nurse’s office or medical staff where prescription drugs can be dispensed.

Now open for more than 12 years, The Lodge at Quail Park is designed to provide “simply the best in senior lifestyle communities.” Located just down the road from Collin College on Ohio Drive, The Lodge at Quail Park was voted “Best of Assisted Living” by Frisco Enterprise poll readers for six consecutive years and it offers a casually elegant retirement community. The Lodge at Quail Park provides 64 premier apartments that are comfortably situated in a quiet residential area of Frisco, but just moments away from major freeways, shopping and entertainment. Each apartment offers a private kitchenette with a refrigerator, a freezer and a microwave, and usually, meals are eaten in the elaborate dining room.

Gwen Cantu, the community relations director for The Lodge at Quail Park, explains, “”Some might say we are a hidden treasure in Frisco because even though we are the oldest assisted living residence, many do not know we are here. Once you arrive, though, you will not forget us! You will marvel at our Old World furnishings and fancy, elaborate décor. Our spacious common areas are charming and comfortable, and everything we do is simply the best!””

The Lodge at Quail Park provides supervision or assistance with activities of daily living, including help with showers, medication management and assistance with dressing and grooming. “We handle a pretty high level of care, helping with transfers from a wheelchair to a regular chair, dressing and more,” says Ms. Cantu. “Our well-trained staff, under the supervision of a licensed nurse, strives every day to help each resident engage in living well and to the best of their abilities. Our residents are also able to see a primary care physician in their own home, adding convenience to each of their daily schedules and accommodating their personal choices.”

A specific differentiator that sets The Lodge at Quail Park apart from other assisted living facilities is the signature dining experience. Served in their beautifully appointed dining room, by their friendly and caring team, the signature dining experience offers all-day dining with specials offered daily. Ms. Cantu continues, “We understand that not everyone may want to be forced into a specific meal schedule. At The Lodge at Quail Park, our talented culinary staff prepares amazingly healthy comfort foods, and if nothing on the menu sounds appealing, we have 25 additional ‘anytime’ menu items available all day, every day. Our goal is to create new memories for our residents while they dine, allowing them to choose from innovative menus that support their health. You will not believe the choices we offer, whether it is a juicy steak, seasoned chicken, baked tilapia or a club sandwich that rivals anyplace in town!”

The Lodge at Quail Park also offers a huge variety of social activities and planned events for their residents, including outings to the orchestra, lunches at various restaurants and shopping excursions to Wal-Mart and other local area stores and boutiques. “We have a full-time activities director who arranges everything anyone could ever want, from adventures and outings to live music and game days. We are all about building community and a family atmosphere here where seniors are content and relaxed to enjoy being themselves,” adds Ms. Cantu.

If the assisted living arrangement does not appeal to seniors, Comfort Keepers is another service available for seniors who prefer to stay in their own homes. Providing in-home care services such as meal preparation, bathing, dressing, running errands and more, Comfort Keepers helps prolong an aging person’s ability to live independently and safely by lending a helping hand while enhancing their clients’ quality of life.

Byron Ricks, the administrator for Comfort Keepers, explains, “We often help clients whose children may live in another city. Comfort Keepers is able to come in as often or as little as needed to ensure parents are well cared for. We also have clients who may need help with doctors’ appointments or are experiencing a bit of dementia and forgetfulness. Again, Comfort Keepers provides companionship, helping our clients through any situation, whatever they may need.”

Ms. Storey has been using Comfort Keepers for some time with excellent results. A worker comes every evening to sit with her father, assisting with anything and everything her dad may need from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. She notes, “We have been so pleased with the care my dad has received through Comfort Keepers. We tried some other companies, and they were terribly unreliable and extremely unprofessional. With Comfort Keepers, our workers show up five to 10 minutes early, are easygoing and so helpful. We never worry about the care my dad may receive. Throughout this difficult time for my parents, Comfort Keepers has been such a blessing to our family. We are thankful.”

Whatever the choice is for seniors and aging parents, everyone will need to time to adjust to a new living arrangement. Open communication, patience and support will inevitably help make the transition a smooth one for your loved one or parent.

Carolyn Cameron
Carolyn Cameron is an online writer and marketer who fancies coffee, her family, random creative endeavors and finishing a home project in her off time.