Assisted Living: A Mother’s Love
There is something truly wonderful about the relationship Carmella Cultraro shares with her daughter, Dr. Conny Cultraro. It goes beyond their similar way of speaking and how easily they feed off of each other’s witty comments. When taking a more in-depth look at these women, one can see the perfect embodiment of the mutual care shared between adult children and their parents. Today, the roles are switching as many children want to act as caregivers or, as in Conny’s case, ensure their parents will have the best living arrangements suited to their needs. It is the increasing desire to return the care and support these individuals have been given throughout their lives. So what advice does Conny have to offer those also caring for their loved ones? “It needs to be their decision as to what they do next,” she said, “It’s like raising kids, you kind of just have to sit back and let them do their own thing.”
And ultimately, it was in fact Carmella who decided to live Kensington Park in Maryland. Before she even stepped foot in The Highlands, the exterior of the community’s independent living residence brought back memories of her quaint Massachusetts hometown. “When I saw this place with the porch and rocking chairs out front, it reminded me of Newburyport and I said to Conny, ‘This is it,'” said Carmella.
“She was kind of stubborn about it too,” Conny added with a laugh, “I wanted her to have something to compare it to, but she’d have moved in that day if she could.” Although they visited other prospects, Carmella’s quick decision paid off, as she and her nearby daughter cannot speak highly enough of her experience at the beautiful hillside community.
Carmella was born in Haverhill, MA and moved to Newburyport where she resided for several years. While visiting her uncle in Italy in 1957, she met his neighbor, Concetto, and fell in love. A year later, they were married, and Concetto moved to the U.S. to be with his new bride. Having worked as a service representative for a New England telephone company for 25 years, Carmella retired early. The couple then left their home in Seabrook Beach, NH, and ventured down to Florida where she lived a total of 24 years despite Concetto’s passing. When she was hospitalized on four different occasions, however, she knew she needed to be near Conny, her only child. “It was foolish of me to stay alone down there because I had no family,” said Carmella, “And Conny was traveling down all the time to see me when I was sick.”
Although she knew she did not want to live with Conny who works full-time, she knew she had to be within close proximity to her daughter. Now residing in Silver Spring, Conny said she is a perfect distance from Kensington Park. “Sometimes at night I’ll be driving home and I’ll call to see if she needs anything,” she said.
At first, she thought her mother could still live a distance away after being in Florida, but now Conny credits Carmella for making a smart decision that has enabled her to relax and given her peace of mind. “Sometimes I couldn’t get a hold of her in Florida and I had to call a neighbor,” said Conny, “Here at Kensington Park, I don’t really do that, but I can if have to.”
Living near Carmella means more to Conny than having the ability to check up on her mother. They spend their Saturdays together during which they will go out to lunch and enjoy a day of shopping. With family in Massachusetts, they are also constantly making trips up to the New England beaches.
Conny can rest assured that her mother will receive the care she requires. With three distinctive residences catering to individuals’ needs, Kensington Park also offers assisted living and Alzheimer’s/dementia care. “The staff is superb here, they come right up and really take care of you,” said Carmella.
Wearing her bracelet for the distress call system, she mentioned a recent falling incident, in which staff immediately rushed to her aide. According to Carmella, the community provides transportation to physicians’ appointments, but there are plenty of medical professionals of various fields available at Kensington Park.
“They have everything here for you, if you need medical help, it’s there,” she said.
While they are in a separate building, she enjoys helping the assisted living residents with arts and crafts and has rediscovered her love for sewing. Carmella can also be seen participating in exercise programs available at the community.
Sometimes gathering for games of blackjack, she and her neighbors appear to be a very tight-knit group. After a recent trip to the beach, Carmella was happily welcomed back to the community. “I got back from my vacation, and I had a few kisses and hugs,” she said smiling.
Conny and her mother agree that Kensington Park provides the perfect atmosphere as Carmella never feels secluded, but can have some quiet time in her apartment whenever she needs it. With an eat-in kitchen, she can make dinner with Conny, but she rarely passes up the wonderful food the community provides.
Although Kensington Park offers everything Carmella wanted in a home, the most important aspect is the constant love and support she can now receive from Conny.
“We could never have had this time together if I was still in Florida,” said Carmella, “Now Kensington Park has made that possible.”