A Truly Unique Family Caregiving Story at a Retirement Community
A mother and daughter share a special bond that has been enhanced by the support of Kensington Park
According to a study conducted by National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, more than 29% of the U.S. population is providing care for a disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. Anastasia Bettis is one of those family members, but the passion, commitment and bond she shares with her mother, Mardi Marshall, would be completely off the charts if one tried to measure it in a research project.
Mardi is a native of Oregon, and after graduating from the University of Oregon she travelled the world teaching English in different locations including the Philippines, Subic Bay and Germany. Having always admired Mardi’s passion for traveling, Anastasia was fortunate to follow in her mother’s footsteps with her decade-long career in the airline industry. Through her work, Anastasia said she was able to visit places that she “could have only dreamt about.”
Eventually Mardi returned to school and received her Masters Degree in Special Education at Gallaudet University, where she met her husband. They raised four children, Anastasia being the youngest.
The family actually lived on the campus of Gallaudet for several years, and they are skilled communicators in sign language. Since Anastasia’s father had a severe hearing impairment, Mardi would communicate with him through sign. This skill has proven to be extremely valuable to Mardi after a series of health problems culminated in her loss of the ability to type, write and talk. “Having the sign language has been a blessing,” said Anastasia.
Referring to her mother as her “best friend,”Anastasia actually shared a two-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring, Md. with Mardi prior to her health issues. When Mardi suffered a heart attack and breast cancer, her daughter took a leave of absence from her position to be a full time caregiver until Mardi regained her independence. In addition, Anastasia’s flexible work schedule allowed her to offer her mom support even when she returned to work.
When Mardi had a stroke, it was again Anastasia who took leave to be by her mother’s side. This proved to be much more challenging for both of them. While Mardi received rehabilitation at a nursing center, Anastasia was with her daily and eventually brought her home to continue the rehabilitation.
When Mardi appeared to be stable, her daughter accepted a position traveling with a Saudi royal family on their private airplane. Although the position required her to be away for 30 consecutive days, she would then be at home for the next 30. It was during her absence that Anastasia and her sister, Stephanie, discovered that Mardi was truly having a tough time living on her own. Together, they all determined that finding a community to provide additional support would be a smart move.
They started visiting communities and immediately discovered that the larger campus-like communities would not be a good match for Mardi’s personality. Once they had narrowed the list of smaller communities within close proximity to Anastasia and Stephanie’s homes, they began more visits. Among the first options they toured was Kensington Park Retirement Community, an independent and assisted living community in the heart of a peaceful Kensington, Md. neighborhood.
“Mom instantly got a beautiful feeling where she didn’t get the feeling before,” said Anastasia, recalling their initial visit. “I could see mom living here. It was bright. It was comfortable. Everything was perfect for my mom. It was small enough too”
In addition to this welcoming environment, Kensington Park offers its residents security with a continuum of care services. This includes luxury independent living in the Highlands, premier assisted living in The Woodlands and The Groves, and a specialized memory support program in The Gardens. With its emphasis on personalized services, family involvement and a diversity of programs, the mother-daughter duo knew without question the community would be the perfect place for Mardi.
Now a resident of Kensington Park for over six years, she has made many friends and is able to communicate well with everyone even with her diminished speech. Mardi especially enjoys playing Bridge with her new neighbors and according to Anastasia, she partakes in nearly every activity that the community offers.
From a variety of entertainment onsite to trips to the nation’s capital, Mardi and her peers have the flexibility of keeping their schedule as busy as they like. Along with different spiritual and educational opportunities, popular activities include yoga, walking the grounds of Rock Creek Hills Park and bird watching from the community’s beautiful gardens. Residents also have access to a movie theatre, fitness center and beauty/barber salon.
As she maintains this active and engaged lifestyle, Mardi and her daughter especially appreciate the fact that she is able to do so not only with the knowledge of available healthcare services, but the numerous amenities offered at Kensington Park. Weekly housekeeping, 24-hour security and concierge, restaurant style dinners, a wellness clinic and scheduled transportation for appointments are among the many services provided by the community.
Completely assured Mardi is in good hands, Anastasia is actually able to have a rare insider’s view on what her mom is up to each day. In 2010, she accepted a position working in the marketing department at Kensington Park. Randy East, the marketing director at the community, said, “We had an opening and I couldn’t think of a better person for the position than Anastasia. Her first hand experience as a caregiver and having a parent here at Kensington Park give her an authentic perspective that our residents and families really appreciate.”
And for Anastasia, this opportunity has come with a great perk as it has put her back in touch with her best friend. “She comes into the office once or twice a day and brings a smile to my face. She always brings me treats and hugs and everything,” she said.
Summarizing the unique path their lives have taken, Anastasia said, “It’s just been such a beautiful journey. It’s been a beautiful transition from aviation to settling down to having a job not living out of my suitcase. Seeing mom every day has just been a joy. She just absolutely loves Kensington Park and I do too.”