How Brenda solved her elder care dilemma

A look at how met one family member's needs

What to know about this topic:

In the Comfort Life Spotlight

by Pat Irwin,

Brenda Carmichael was at her wit’s end. 

Her mom, Caroline, aged 88, broke her hip and was recovering in rehab, but was in no hurry to go home. Why? Caring for Herb, her 91-year-old husband with mid-stage dementia, had burned her out. Exhaustion had made her clumsy and she realized that it was simply impossible to care for her own arthritis and for him. Brenda, age 57, took a week from her intense job in another city to be with her dad, who cannot be alone. 

What would all this mean? Putting Dad into a home while Mom remained in the house? Breaking them up, after 70 years of marriage? Unthinkable!

Unable to sleep, her brain buzzing, Brenda jotted down a quick ‘worry list’: 

She went online and Googled some questions she had like “senior care advice,” “retirement homes near me” and “retirement homes vs. home care.” She kept finding, so she decided to take a closer look.

How Brenda solved her elder care dilemma

An overview of options

From the home page she scrolled down to Retirement Living by Lifestyle and Care Type. She clicked on the choices – Active Adult Lifestyle, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care. Here were descriptions of who needs what type of care. She learned that her mom should be considered Independent Living, and her dad Memory Care.

She found that there was more information she needed.  Essential Guides to Retirement Living offered tabs that made sense to her – Caregiving of Aging Parents, Senior Care Advisor, The Care Continuum, Choosing a Community, Paying for Care, Moving Guide.

Caring for Elderly Parents gave an overview of advice, and resources, including an expandable questionnaire. Answers to each question allowed her to click for much more information and advice about recommendations for specific concerns such as safety, cost, burnout, and cognitive decline. All of this confirmed her belief that her parents each required different levels of care.

She then clicked on the Senior Care Advisor tab, which once again posed relevant questions and answers that invoked more information per topic. It focused on publicly-funded resources such as those provided by the province or municipality. It presented information from both the adult child and the senior’s viewpoint. 

Several headings especially caught her eye: Support services for seniors, Facing increasing health challenges, Finding help in your community, Government-funded home care,  Facing a health crisis, and Finding long-term care. Facing a Health Crisis was the most helpful, outlining how to seek help, what to expect from hospital admission and discharge; and information about long-term care plus a checklist for assessment.

But Brenda wanted to focus on retirement living options—independent living for Mom and memory care for Dad. How could she find out how to choose a place that would accommodate both of them?

She clicked on Choosing a Community and found six practical steps, with extensive details, on how to choose a community. These tallied well with her worry list:

Brenda was intrigued by the next tab, Paying for Care. ‘We’re looking at retirement communities, not a government home – what do we need to know?’ Well, how about: Basic Government Pensions, Workplace pensions, Investments, Insurance products, Continuing income and savings, ​Tax breaks for seniors, Paying for a retirement home when the money runs out, ​How much is enough? How will you pay?

The final tab, Moving Guide, had a wealth of information to prepare, address concerns, decide what to take, even an e-book with tips and recommendations.

Ready to Select!

Now in the know, Brenda went back to the home page and clicked on Find a Community. She selected her city, and a choice of homes popped up, with details on each home’s location. When selected, the listing clearly showed if it offered independent, assisted living and memory care, with links to a profile and to reviews and videos. An e-book was offered, The Ultimate Retirement Home Checklist. This would help both her and her mom assuage any doubts about making an informed choice.

Brenda used the ‘shortlist’ feature to create a short list. She then clicked on Review and Comparisons, then ‘Compare Options’ and got a detailed comparison of features, services, amenities, costs and reviews for each community.

This allowed her to quickly find four shortlisted properties that would offer both independent and memory care. She zeroed in on their websites, took virtual tours and printed brochures to show her mom in the morning.

Let’s Go!

Brenda was now confident in the choices she had researched. Visiting each community, she felt well qualified to discuss her parent’s requirements now and into the future. She learned that her parents could share a suite, and not have to be split up. Her dad could receive memory care services in their suite for the foreseeable time. She also ensured that her mom could ‘age in place’ if she needed further care, and take on assisted living services in their suite.

Brenda was also confident about telling her parents of her findings, using some of the guidelines from her research. After a productive discussion, her mother agreed to move with her dad to a suitable community that could help her look after him. She, too, had been overwhelmed by the options and was so relieved to be presented with a workable and affordable plan.

Brenda and her parents are now planning for the big move, and looking forward to their new life in a safe and supportive environment.

“Full marks to Comfort Life,” she says. “I could never have done it without your website! Thank you!”

Editors's note: This article by Pat Irwin of is unpaid for and submitted voluntarily. Pat is unassociated with Comfort Life. 

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