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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eldercare Lessons: Quality of Life - Rudy's Story

By Rita M Files

Throughout the years of working in the elder care industry, I have had the good fortune to meet a handful of people who have positively impacted my life on both a personal and professional level. The lessons I learned from them have changed my view on my own “golden” years and the true meaning of the quality of life.

One person who stands out the most is my beloved Rudy. He and his longtime companion, Helena—after spending the previous 40 years living in an apartment in New York City in a neighborhood laden with crime and danger—reluctantly agreed to move to a senior living community after much pressure from both their families. Their home had become a virtual prison, complete with bars on their first-floor apartment windows and multiple locks on the door. Neither Rudy nor Helena had been able to leave their home unescorted for several years.

My first encounter with them was the day they moved to the senior living community where I was working at the time. Quiet and sullen, they both appeared frightened, tired, and resigned to living in “a place like this.” Helena, noticeably the younger of the two, seemed to take the lead. Rudy appeared to be a shell of a man as he held his partner’s hand tightly and shuffled along through the tour of their new home.

As we approached the main resident gathering area, also known to most as the “piano room,” I was somewhat relieved that our tour would end here. As we entered, Rudy suddenly stopped and gazed for several minutes at the beautiful white grand piano that was the focal point of the room. Seeing what I believed to be a sparkle in his eyes, I asked, “Do you play?” He responded “my whole life.” Seizing the moment, I asked Rudy if he would play a song for me, and he readily agreed. As he approached the piano, he asked what I would like to hear, and my request was “Some Enchanted Evening.”

As he sat on the bench and lifted the keyboard cover, he transformed before my eyes. Head high, shoulders back, he began one of the most beautiful renditions of the song I had ever heard. As the glorious music filled the community, Rudy drew quite a crowd that day and every day thereafter for the entire eight months he lived with us. He passed away in his sleep one night. Finding a list of songs next to his bedside that he was to play that day, I took great comfort in knowing he died doing what he loved to do.

For many of today’s seniors facing the prospect of moving to a senior living environment, the mere mention conjures up visions of nursing homes from yesteryear. Perhaps they had a parent, other relative, or friend who spent their last days in a facility that was cold, sterile, and known as a place where people go to die. Convincing your loved one otherwise can seem nearly impossible. However, look for the magic keys such as a well-stocked library, a community garden, a bible group, or a creative writing club to assist with opening their minds.

This experience also taught me the importance of developing and maintaining hobbies and interests early in life, as they may be what bring us the most comfort in our older years.

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Low Vision Therapy Services

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)

Well Spouse Association

U.S. Administration on Aging


Nursing Home Compare

Senior Safety Online

Mature Market Institute

Connections for Women

50Plus Realtor

Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website