This Guest Point of View is courtesy of Joe Anderson, President, ABHOW Foundation; President, Seniority, Inc.; Chairman, SQLC Charitable Foundation. Mr. Anderson is a nationally-recognized leader in senior living marketing, with over 40 years of experience in advertising, marketing and public relations. He is frequently featured as a guest speaker at senior housing meetings and conferences across the nation and is admired throughout the industry for his exemplary leadership and selflessness in philanthropic efforts.
Typically on the 4th of July we think about the freedoms that have been given to us by our forefathers. “I can do this!” “I can do that!” “It’s a free country!” However, the concept of freedom may be a little more difficult to grasp when you’re confined to a wheelchair in an assisted living apartment. It may be harder to celebrate independence when you’re sitting with your mom in a memory support living area watching her grasping for the words to explain something to you.
Those of us who work in and with communities that provide needed assisted living and memory support homes and services take great pride in providing as much independence and freedom as we can. This is complicated in some cases by the physical and intellectual challenges that many of our residents face each day. We have to be careful that while we are helping someone to walk, we are taking measures to prevent them from falling.
I had a friend named Frances Weaver. Fran went back to college in her 60s, became a newspaper writer, lecturer and author of several books. My favorite book was The Girls with the Grandmother Faces, in which she spoke about the feelings of youth and ability she and her sisters still had. At the same time, she reported on the physical and mental challenges they faced as they aged.
With humor, Frances Weaver voiced the fears she had of loss of independence–a feeling that many older people share. As we walk through our communities we encounter many residents who also have those fears. Many assisted living and memory support programs include daily travel opportunities, spiritual discussion, social interaction and friendship. Through activities like these some level of independence can be felt and enjoyed by any older person.
Our job – both as their providers and as their families – is to maintain an atmosphere in which abilities are celebrated and the word “independence” has fluid meaning. Happy 4th of July!