How Do You Maintain Independence as You Age?

Looking at Helen, you’d think 92 is the new 75. Spry, quick-witted, and intellectually curious, she believed, until recently, she could do it all. But when a pulled muscle in her leg turned out to be severe arthritis in her hip, she acknowledged, “Now I know that I can’t do everything on my own.” That’s when she turned to Seniors At Home, JFCS’ senior care program that had served her late husband so well while in the final stages of Parkinson’s disease.

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“My laundry was piling up because I couldn’t get up and down the stairs so easily any longer,” she said. “It was depressing me, so I thought, ‘I’d better make that call to Seniors At Home.’ The home care attendants had been so wonderful with Winston toward the end of his life, and I recognized that just a little help would allow me to remain independent and happy on my own.”

Helen, a former journalist who reads two newspapers from cover to cover, said that having the extra support from Seniors At Home has been exactly what she needed. It’s also a huge relief to her four adult children, who wished their mother lived a little closer to them but appreciate that she fiercely craves her independence and wants to remain in her San Francisco home of 60 years.

“It’s hard when you get to be a certain age to accept that you may have some physical limitations,” said Helen. “I remember when the Seniors At Home folks first came to take care of Winston. At the end of their shift, he used to say to them, ‘You don’t need to come back.’ But they were great guys and, after a while, he accepted them because they understood him and respected him for who he was.”

For Helen, it’s the level of respect and understanding from Seniors At Home that has made it possible for her to find the right balance for herself—between “doing it all” and getting a helping hand.