Geriatric Care - The Importance of Staying at Home

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Ms. Smith: Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast. Welcome to Age to Age. I'm Sally Smith. Let's talk. Today we have with us Mary Peters, who's the President of Care for Life, and a professional who's worked in elder care for many, many years. Mary, as president of Care for Life, and realizing that your group assists people in all levels of elderly care in all situations, I noticed that your primary goal is stated as staying at home, remaining as independent as possible as a primary objective for your loved one. How important is staying at home?

Ms. Peters: Well, I was very close to my great-grandmother. She died when I was sixteen, and then I was very close with her mother. And both of these ladies stayed at home up until their nineties, and I could see that it really effected their health, their resilience, and their happiness. And so every time I go into a home, or we have someone to take care of, it's my grandmother, and I'm going to keep them at home. And that's our mission at Care for Life, because we think people are better off in their home. 

Ms. Smith: And is this why you were called upon to found Care for Life, and put together a team that could help families make this happen?

Ms. Peters: Well I have an extended, large family, and we all are very elderly oriented to everybody in our family. And I actually kind of stumbled into it, because I've done a lot of things as a career. I've been in health care all of my adult life, and I was preparing for a presentation at a conference. And I was in the Medical University library way back then, and I came across this journal called Generations. And it's published by the American Society on Aging, and I started to read about this geriatric care management, and how it put people together with other services. It's the glue between the nursing home, between the hospital, and every really health service. And so I went about it, and just started up.

Ms. Smith: That is very exciting. The level of action inside a family home, I know with my own mother, her action dribbled down to where it was her, in a big house, with around the clock attendance, and, you know, a daily thirty minute visit from one of her children. Then you assess continually when the dynamic changes, and when it is time, then to go with the more social interaction. And I know that it's sort of an assumption in so many cases, and often true, that if you can keep someone at home it's always happier. But when there's staying at home with no interaction, then I guess the tables are turned. You're open to that.

Ms. Peters: Right, well, sometimes we will go into a home, and we'll be taking care of someone, and eventually we will decide that they are not safe at home under any circumstances. And so even though we might not have the case anymore, because the person is going to go into a facility, we will write a letter to the family telling why the person is not safe, and recommending that they go on to the proper place. And we will help them find the proper place.

Ms. Smith: That brings up such an interesting thought, because I find that as a child, taking care of older parents, which most of us have done, or certainly will do, there's just a certain amount of guilt that comes along with the terrain, no matter how beautiful a job you do. I've had ladies cry when I've spoken at groups, and cry that they kept their mother for thirty years, their mother's been dead seven years, and they kept them twenty-four seven all those years. And they kept them for all those years that they had them, and they still are feeling guilty about it. I mean, what more could they do? There's something about that guilt factor, and I would think having someone that wrote a letter, a professional that wrote a letter saying this is not your decision, you know to not stand it anymore, it's ruining my family life, or whatever, but to have someone from outside write a letter and<

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