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Dad's House
By Sharon R. McMurray

(Page 2 of 2)

In addition to the grab bars in the bathroom, the contractor installed several throughout the house after Dad and an occupational therapist walked through it to identify the places where he needed them the most. The contractor jokes he could use Dad’s house as a “grab bar showroom” for his other clients.

Dad’s doctor has been an outstanding ally. At our request, he got Dad into physical therapy for a “tune-up” and he had an occupational therapist evaluate the house – all so Dad could continue to live there independently.

Dad can cook breakfast – he makes a mean omelet one-handed with “Eggbeaters” – and manages lunch and dinner, but we knew he’d appreciate meals he didn’t have to prepare, especially home-cooked ones. “Meals on Wheels” was a possibility, but we were particularly fortunate to find a neighbor who was very willing to prepare dinner for Dad three nights a week for a small fee.  We pop in with a meal now and then, as do his other neighbors, and there’s no shortage of desserts delivered to his door.

The next step was to brighten up the house with new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint. And just before the first snowfall, Dad had a natural gas insert installed in his fireplace in the family room. Years ago he would build roaring fires everyone would sit around, and later, it would be just he and mom after the kids moved out. Within the last several years, however, they didn’t have any fires, because it became too difficult for him to carry in the wood and mind the fire.

Now in the evenings, he sits in his chair and hits the remote, not just for the television, but to turn on the fireplace – and regulate the height of the flames.  We’re not sure which the better investment was: the renovated bathroom or the fireplace insert.

On the horizon is a DVD player so he can watch M*A*S*H reruns and other programs and movies he so enjoys.  And he’s on the waiting list for “Honor Flight” next year, a program that transports World War II veterans to see their memorial in Washington, D.C.

The “Aging in Place in America” research study, commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation and released in October 2007, showed that the vast majority of senior citizens want to age in place, or grow older without having to move from their homes. In fact, senior citizens fear the loss of independence and moving out of their home into a nursing home far more than death.

It would have been a big mistake to move our father.  Even with limited physical mobility, he stills enjoys his independence in his own home.  His house is safe and comfortable, and he has a support network that includes his children, neighbors, doctors and the wonders of technology.  And, there are myriad other private care agencies to help us should we need to call on them in the future.


Sharon R. McMurray is a writer and former director of corporate communications for a major Midwestern bank. She lives in suburban Detroit with her husband and two rescued Australian Shepherds


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