A philosophy of care
There is not a Baby Boomer living within the circulation of this magazine who has not already begun to confront the frightening reality of how to care for his or her aging parent.
We were once their job. Now, they are ours.
Too often, our obligation of caring for Mom or Dad falls somewhere in the cracks between the responsibilities of parenting, career, as well managing a home and finances, while at the same time attempting to fashion some kind of life that aspires to happiness. And yet, the need to protect and provide for those people who helped raise us haunts our sleep with questions and fears -- all in the name of love -- and the options of what constitute 'The Right Thing' fly through our minds, in constant motion.
Is it too early for a nursing home? Can we afford an assisted living facility? Would Mom or Dad be comfortable there? Would they make friends, after living on their own for so long, and so independent of needing anyone's assistance? I can't be a full-time caregiver, so who would we trust? Would my parent, once so active and alive, believe that I was giving up on them? Would they feel that they were becoming a burden?
Tucked within a small shopping center along the Kirkwood Highway, Senior Care of Newark has proven to be a refreshing alternative to a nursing home or assisted living facility, for hundreds of local families. The center offers a daytime program full of recreational activities and opportunities for socialization, social services, meals and nursing care in a safe, caring and attentive environment.
Specializing in the elderly population, the adult day health services at the facility are tailored to older adults who have a chronic physical or cognitive impairments, such as Dementia and Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, neuromuscular diseases or developmental disabilities, as well as those who are recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and those who require assistance with daily activities such as eating, daily personal care and hygiene, administration of medications and injections, wound care and regular monitoring of blood pressure and blood sugar.
Currently, Senior Care of Newark has 42 members who are cared for by six staff members -- a seven-to-one staff-to-member ratio. Although most come in five days a week, some scatter their visits.
The work is not done alone, but in partnership with caregivers, case managers and physicians, in a team approach that provides each member with a unique program of cognitive and physical activities that is custom-tailored to his or her needs and interests. By engaging in these activities, members receive mental and physical stimulation that helps to improve their well-being and quality of life.
Senior Care of Newark -- currently the only adult day facility in Delaware -- is one of more than 80 locations across the country that links its programming with Active Day/Senior Care, the premier provider of adult day health services and in-home personal care in the country.
The triangular relationship of member, caregivers and the staff at Senior Care of Newark begins early, often during an initial informational tour of the facility.
"It's always our goal to reassure caregivers that we're in this together, with them, right from the start," said Alexandra Crane, who was named as the new director of Senior Care of Newark last month. "The tour gives everyone an idea of how we handle things, as well as introduces them to our caring staff. Once the relationship begins, we encourage family members to call throughout the day, or stop by and have lunch, which allows them to see how their loved one is adapting to his or her new surroundings."
For years, Senior Care of Newark shared a facility with the current home of the Newark Senior Center on White Chapel Drive, but the move to Capital Trail earlier this year helped to better distinguish one from the other.
In many ways, Crane feels that her destiny, one that landed her at Senior Care of Newark, was paved early. Raised as an only child with busy parents, Crane spent a lot of time with her grandmother and great grandmother. While she enjoyed being around children her age, the times she spent with her elderly relatives gave her a strong sense of connection and protection.
"Here I was, six years old, hanging out with 80-year-olds, but I was so happy to be hanging out with them," she said. "I think those experiences really inspired me to choose this career."
When Crane first joined Senior Care of Newark as an activity director this past March, the feelings and experiences she had as a youngster were easily transferable.
"I feel like I can advocate for every single one of our members. because I feel that every single one of them is like a grandparent of mine," she said. "When they first arrive, they're a total stranger, but automatically, that feeling of isolation goes away."
Crane believes the most crucial component of Senior Care of Newark is the synergy that occurs when both the member and their loved ones both feel a sense of belonging.
"A lot of times, family members are new to the world of Dementia and Alzheimer's, and they're worn out, and don't know how to best care for their loved one," Crane said. "That's where we come in -- to alleviate their fears. The biggest reward we receive is getting hugs from the families of our members, because they have found a wonderful place for their loved ones to be.
"I am thrilled to play a small part in this entire mission."
Senior Care of Newark is located at 1252 Capitol Trail, Newark, De. To arrange a tour or inquire about a trial membership, call Director Alexandra Crane at (302) 533-3543. For more information, visit www.seniorcarectrs.com.