I found a quote the other day by Alice Walker that said. “ The most common way people give up their power is by believing they don’t have any. “ This resonated with me because I see people everyday who are getting older and they feel like they should act ‘old’. It’s just not true. We have become accustomed to letting someone else take the wheel when we get to a “certain age.” Other people tell us we are too old for certain activities, and after a while we believe it. Through my work with Full Circle America, I have met some people who are doing things a little differently.
Peggy lives alone. She is 77 and has a little dementia. Her adult children started looking into assisted living centers about a year ago and found a different approach to elder care with Full Circle America. We had many visits with Peggy and her family and ironed out a plan that would help Peggy stay at home while satisfying her adult children’s concerns. Peggy has visits 3 times a week with volunteers from FCA. They go for walks, do needlepoint, run errands or go out to lunch. She also has the monitoring system that will alert someone if she needs help.
Gerald, 87, was my first member. His closes relatives lived in Portland and after being in the hospital he stayed with them. But Gerald wanted to go home; home to Rockland. We took care of Gerald with our monitoring system as well as with in-home visits. He loved to go for walks, but needed someone to go with him and help him down the stairs. He was a soft spoken man with a somewhat fragile looking frame, but when he got behind his walker his stride told a different story. One of my favorite memories of Gerald was teaching him to use a Skype machine to make video calls. He caught on quickly. Before I knew it, he was enjoying video calls with his family in Portland, friends from church and of course me. He became animated waving at the kids on the video screen and talking to his family. His smile made me smile. We were able to help keep Gerald at home, where he wanted to be, until a couple of days before he died of cancer.
Brad is in a totally different age group.. He’s a young 20 year old who lives in his own apartment in Portland. Most doubted his ability to live on his own, given his autism. Now they marvel at how well he has adjusted. Using the FCA monitoring system, his parents and other care providers can check in on him to see how he is doing. He goes to day programs, has visitors and enjoys laying on the couch watching TV, just like any 20 year old. Being on his own has given him more self confidence, making him feel good about himself and the future.
We as a community must play an important role in empowering older individuals and those individuals with disabilities to achieve as much independence as possible. With a little encouragement, my contact with the individuals I’ve mentioned, and several others like them, have opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. I hope that soon no one will have to settle for less.
Full Circle America