Adding insult to injury, he contracted pneumonia, further challenging the normally active research scientist, who retired from
They couple already were sustaining members in Shoreline Village CT, a community of seniors committed to helping each other live independently at home.
The "village" concept offers an alternative to traditional retirement communities or nursing homes, according to the Sylvia DeSantis,
The community offers social and cultural activities to connect residents, sponsors educational programs and advocate for seniors, DeSantis said. SVCT provides transportation, companionship, and even a daily check-in phone call, according to DeSantis. The village also offers a Nurse Navigator Program, sponsored by VNA Community Health Care, along with professional resources such as health, legal or financial management services, according to the website.
As they dealt with new health challenges,
She had to curate an art show on
When her brother died, suddenly, life spiralled further out of control, the couple agreed.
They hired a professional caregiver using the VNA Nurse Navigator Program before
With so much thrown at them at once, it was often difficult to cope, but the SVCT network served as an insurance policy, of sorts, DeSantis said.
She joined Shoreline Village CT to get "out of my comfort zone," said Tarrant, who witnessed her mother slide into serious dementia. She also suffered from arthritis as she aged, the reasons Tarrant is active in ways that may save her from a similar fate, she said.
"There are things I do physically, mentally," said the
Tarrant can't imagine how some people willingly move away from well-known people and places, leaving for destinations such as "
"I love seeing familiar faces," said Tarrant, who walks steps to the historic
Established in 2013, the state
The agency also administers programs that provide senior community employment, health insurance counseling, and respite care for caregivers, according to the website.
Safe and sound
Tarrant's exercise will keep her nimble longer, cutting the chance of falls and injuries, said Trace Van Oss, associate clinical professor of occupational therapy at
Occupational therapists also are focused on ways to support aging in place initiatives.
"We're working on creating a safe environment to reduce likelihood of falls in the home," said Van Oss. Most modifications occur in the bathroom, such as adding grab bars or a bench for increased safety in the shower. Brighter lights, a higher toilet seat and bed rails can also help, she added.
Aging in Place is defined as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level," according to the
In addition to safety measures, strong support networks are vital to aging in place initiatives, said
"If we are talking about older adults, you want to make sure they have an appropriate support system," said Kovel. This can be a combination of family friends, and services required to help them function efficiently, she added.
"Have they thought of services they made need in the future?," asked Kovel, again reinforcing the idea that, "Staying connected is the most important thing you can do."
Connections include activities and people that contribute to an overall higher quality of life, she added.
Isolation, fall prevention and driver safety are major health issues, something best discussed in advance of the unexpected, a crisis situation that can lead to long-term care. "It's a big issue," said Kovel, of offering support for proactive future planning.
In crisis, the Daw's received timely advice about hiring a professional caregiver via the
Sometimes, giving up independence willingly is difficult to do, said DeSantis. With a network of volunteers, the feat becomes easier for seniors to get help when they need it most, she added.
Asking is usually the first and hardest hurdle to getting help, she added. As a paying member of SVCT, it takes the pressure off asking for help, said
Seniors "don't want to be a burden on others," said DeSantis, adding that transportation issues are a big way SVCT can help seniors.
"That's where we come in," said DeSantis. The director also takes a early-morning phone call daily from one of the active members of SVCT, she said.
Sometimes, it's good just to hear another person's voice, said DeSantis, who asked the woman if there were others ways SVCT could help her.
Help with the odd chore, the woman replied, DeSantis said.
Sometimes, even a seemingly simple chore, can amount to much more. Even difficulty of changing a hard-to-reach lightbulb can pose a safety risk, DeSantis said.
Healthy at home
Making safety changes doesn't always require professional resources.
Working with an OT, an individual assessment is made to confirm that the senior is able to get around the house safely; to wash, dress, get to appointments or work, or use services of multiple professionals for success, Van Oss said.
Even as Leila and
Tarrant also has "definite ideas about what I need," she said, noting that her mother was 98 when she died.
If and when the time comes, Tarrant is prepared to add help to remain in her own home. The house affords space for live-in help if "need be," she said.
The state's 17-member Aging in
Tarrant was pleasantly surprised by the social side of SVCT, participating in book and film clubs, and a tea and talk series, she said.
"This was definitely me moving outside my comfort zone," said Tarrant, whose son lives two hours away.
"It's added a lot (to) my life, knowing that I can call someone for help, without it being 'a favor'" is extremely valuable, she added.
"People are living longer, but they want to age in communities, said Kovel. "They want walkable access, to be closer to services."
At the same time, "Everyone is very mindful of the challenging (economic) times in our aging state," added Kovel.
Aging in Place services do vary, based on municipality, geography, demographics, individual needs, and available resources.
"We are seeing this growing need," said Kovel. While some towns and cities have active aging-in-place networks, others are working on creating innovative solutions, Kovel said.
Best laid plans
Even if Nigel and
"One of the lovely volunteers came out and sawed it off with a hacksaw," said
"We are very willing to help others too," she added.
With a growing portion of the population dealing with similar issues today, awareness is key, said Kovel, who has seen an increase of shared services and collaboration.
"Networks of care are evolving," said Kovel. "We all have to be more connected."
(c)2017 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)
Visit the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) at www.nhregister.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.