Changing Needs: Assisted Living

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elder woman living in assisted living communityFrances Wolowitz, a native Washingtonian, had a successful, thirty-year career as a teacher and principal in the D.C. school system. She has three children, five grandchildren, and three great grandkids.

Linda Schlafman is the only Wolowitz child still living in the area. In 1978, after the death of her husband, Frances and the Schlafman family decided to sell their respective homes and build one that they could all share together. Recalling the arrangement Linda says, “It was beautiful. My children grew up with their grandmother, and she ran the home while I pursued a teaching career. For 20 years, we lived together. Mother was a vibrant active woman, volunteering in the community, going to exercise classes, traveling, and nurturing our family.”

Linda explains that, “A couple of years ago, Mother began to have memory lapses. There were small indications at first, but they became more significant. We consulted a neurologist who diagnosed dementia, and we then knew what we were dealing with. Mother became confused driving in the city she knew so well. We hired people to take her to her appointments. We eventually hired a person full time to help care for her in our home.

“Along the way we consulted with a group of physicians who specialize in gerontology. We were interviewed by a social worker who observed my mother in our home to make sure that she was in a safe environment. The social worker was also concerned for our well-being and suggested we stay in touch. We did contact her when my mother’s condition worsened. Her suggestion was that we might want to consider other alternatives because Mother’s condition was too much for the family to handle; plus, we could no longer assure that living with us, in our home, would be comfortable or safe for her.”

Recalling her own grandmother’s experience, Linda was determined to find a better environment for her mom. The social worker recommended Arbor Place in Rockville, MD, which is actually directed by a Geriatric Psychiatrist. “We were welcomed into a large, comfortable home. We were convinced that this was a place where Mother would not only receive the care she needs but would also thrive. It was obvious that the full-time registered nurse and staff were carefully chosen and that they were very committed to the residents. I have also become involved in everyday life at Arbor Place. We visit often and enjoy participating in activities with Mother.

We feel Mother is comfortable, loved, and well cared for at Arbor Place. More than “loving care”, there is respect for skills she still has. In fact, Mother still reads aloud beautifully. She often involves other residents in poetry reading sessions. Mother is active and involved daily in the music, arts, crafts, and other activities, things she always enjoyed throughout her life. When I drop in after school, I might find her dancing or concentrating on a painting. Sometimes she even apologizes, because she is too busy to visit with me!”

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