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A personal view on an aging parent

aging parent hands closed on her lap

Marylee Gorham, Director of Admissions & Marketing at Peabody Place, shares her experience with an aging parent and how a little patience can go a long way. 

I’m the eldest of four siblings. We enjoyed the standard stiff upper lip British parenting style where less was said, but body language and parental silence helped you understand one’s childhood transgressions. Eventually, we all flew the proverbial nest, leaving our parents to rekindle their relationship without the constant clammer and noise of boisterous children.

Our matriarch’s health is failing precipitously in her eighty-fourth year. A widow for nigh on a decade she was fiercely independent, healthy and active, embracing the solitude of an empty nest surrounded by the comforting presence of her pets. She’s held her secrets – Mother is an enigma, perhaps even to herself. Never gregarious or demonstrative, the later years showed she was becoming ever more guarded and protective of her personal domain, which is her home that serves as a closed bastion for a self-imposed hermit-like existence exacerbated by a pandemic. Those years alone bore silent witness to her decline that we, her adult children, were blissfully unaware of – until we weren’t.

This year has been a difficult one with many hospitalizations for essentially the same recurring problems. She has a steadfast unwillingness to cede her care to others but at the same time becoming more and more dependent on professionals providing in-home care, and my sister, who by the geographic proximity to Mother, is called upon with regularity to assist in even the tiniest of chores. When asked how she is feeling her reply is “I’m fine” and “I don’t want to be a bother.” We are all fearful of the fall that will break a bone, that she will mix up her self-administered pain medication, that her poor nutritional intake will eventually fail her bodily needs, that the coup de grace of an imminent stroke will render her unable to communicate even as she lollygags completing legal documents that will ensure her wishes are followed with a durable power of attorney for health care. None of us can force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do since she has full mental capacity even as her physical status declines. Agreeing to move to an assisted senior living community has met with ‘steadfast’ resistance. The irony is not lost on me given my role at Peabody Home (soon to be Peabody Place) – that of Admissions Director. I literally spend hours every day talking with family members in the exact situation I personally find our own family in.

On the one hand, I can participate in these difficult conversations with empathy and understanding, guiding those who need help navigating a difficult road.

On the other hand, I try to help others see how NOT waiting until there is a hideous health crisis that ultimately forces everyone’s hand thus fast-tracking the move to “a nursing home.”

Understandably, the feelings of loss of control of one’s own life – not living in a home that bears all the memories of a life well-lived, even selling that family home and a good portion of the contents therein, is so terribly hard for many to do. Any of us would resist.

At Peabody, we encourage folks to take control early on so they decide when and how that move ultimately happens. We embrace the concepts of the Eden Philosophy by nurturing those that call us home in an environment that is loving, supportive, welcoming, vibrant and inclusive. Our focus centers on care of the human spirit as well as care of the human body, moving away from the institutional hierarchical medical model into a culture of home, where our residents direct their own lives.

Those all too familiar sources of senior anguish: loneliness, helplessness and boredom are held at bay by creating special bonds revolving around close and continuous contact with the natural world, animals and multi-generations [post pandemic]. No one is ever alone at Peabody!

There is such amazing value with us. Joining a family that offers a true quality of life, supports independent thinking, creates meaningful activity, encourages social bonds – all while ensuring the mundane aspects of being human – housekeeping, laundry, meals, assistance with personal care, etc. – happen unobtrusively and with respect by our dedicated staff.

We’ve avoided the ravages of any COVID outbreaks within our walls. Currently, 100% (figure as of Nov. 2021) of our residents and staff are fully vaccinated. Each week the positivity rate plummets in New Hampshire so restrictions fall. Our musical program has returned. Volunteers are back. Families have more options to visit. Outside trips have resumed. Communal dining is again a pleasurable part of the day.

We have available rooms right now at Peabody.

It’s a great time to move in since there is no separation from one’s family. The incentive of a white-hot real estate market means incredibly lucrative sales offers from buyers – presenting an opportunity for asset liquidity for incoming residents. Better yet, joining us now holds one is good stead for a guaranteed apartment in Peabody Place which will open in December 2021. We have a new Medical Directorship with the healthcare team from Health First.

Peabody Place is being built right now – phase 1 will open in December. Assisted Living apartments – beautifully appointed, designed with state-of-the-art systems, spacious all private rooms. We have riverfront views, access to a lively downtown Franklin, NH, and we are affordable since we do not levy entrance fees, buy-ins and steep deposits. We are and will continue to be “move-in ready.”

If I can encourage a positive outlook on moving to our community, zeroed in all the uplifting life-affirming aspects of congregate living then those old truths held close in the American psyche: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, are really what one can expect at Peabody.

Who knows, after reading this, maybe my own Mother will agree!

To learn more about Peabody now, or discuss Priority Wait List options, contact us! For additional information for adult children caring for aging parents, here are a few resources: