As Richard Klein reached his 80s, his family saw that he wasn’t eating well. When he did have an appetite he usually ordered take-out. Frequently, he was confused by his medication schedule. A widower, he was often isolated and lived a distance away from relatives. He needed more consistent medical care and more self-care assistance at home.
After a serious car accident left him with recurrent complications from his injuries, Klein’s son, Paul Klein, and daughter-in-law, Tammy, asked him to enter a rehabilitation unit at Rosegate American Senior Communities, near their Southside home.
Soon after Richard Klein was admitted to the unit, the Kleins had that difficult discussion that many families dread.
Was it time for Richard Klein to relocate from his 2,500-square- foot home on the Eastside to a cozy apartment in Rosegate’s assisted living community?
He was gaining weight and taking medications as prescribed. He was safe. And he was flourishing.
Leaving the majority of downsizing decisions to be made by family members, Richard picked out his favorite furnishings, photographs and knickknacks and began a new life chapter at Rosegate.
Happily, the Klein family watched him sign up for art classes, choose beloved new books to read from a huge library down the hall from his apartment and make a lot of new friends. He played cards with several neighbors and attended musical events. Surrounded by his peers, he laughed and discussed all kinds of topics while consistently eating nutritious meals in the spacious dining room. And he received round-the-clock nursing care. Someone was available at any hour if he fell, if he needed anything.
When his health deteriorated to the need for hospice care, the Klein family worried that Richard would face a move to the full nursing care section of Rosegate.
“But the nursing staff and hospice care staff worked together to keep him right there,” Tammy Klein said.
Last month Richard passed away. But he was not alone at the house where he raised his family and he was not in a hospital room. He was in his new home, surrounded by people who knew and cared about him.
Stories like the Klein family’s are important, said Mark Wallis, senior lifestyle specialist for the community.
When families share about their personal experiences, it helps other adult children in similar situations to stop feeling guilty, as if they are somehow abandoning their aging parents.
Reasons for considering a move from the family home range from struggling to live alone with serious medical conditions to living safely with dementia, to not having reliable transportation to get to medical appointments. Some seniors make medication mistakes that can be very dangerous. Others are socially isolated while some see their longtime neighborhoods in serious crime-ridden decline.
When seniors and their families are considering options, Wallis and his co-worker, Tammy Wolsiffer, also a senior lifestyle specialist, provide resources for any questions to be answered.
Sometimes it is overwhelming for seniors to think about downsizing from a home stuffed with 30 or more years of memories, Wolsiffer said. But help is also available with that responsibility.
Referrals for elder care attorneys are provided. Trial stays of at least a couple of weeks are also encouraged.
Many people assume that senior living will limit or even remove an individual’s independence, Wallis said.
But actually, that assumption could not be more wrong.
Residents pick and choose from a packed social calendar. Transportation is available to area shopping or other appointments.
Lots of trips are available too.
“That bus has been all over this state,” Wolsiffer said with a laugh.
“This is their home,” Wallis said. “We work in their home, and we work for them.”