My Grandmother was my world.
For half of my childhood, my Abuela (Spanish for “grandma”) took care of my siblings and me while my mom (her only child) dealt with some challenges. This is the story of why I do what I do and the inspiration behind helping seniors Age at Home.
In 1998, my Grandmother made the decision to sell her house in Puerto Rico and move to New York where her only daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren lived.
Unfortunately, Mom’s house wasn’t set up to properly fit her needs.
The bedrooms and bathrooms were all upstairs, posing a concern for her safety. Although she was very independent and active, thinking long term and having to navigate the stairs was scary. The thought of grandma tripping and falling down the stairs was a terrible thought. (I knew this from first-hand experience because I fell down those stairs. . .a week before my wedding!)
An “active living” community was not an option for us as our goal was for her to be an active participant in the everyday life of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was decided our formal living room, which was on the main floor and easy to access, would be turned into Abuela’s master bedroom. We added a private bathroom as well.
It was the best decision EVER!
Giving my grandmother the ability to have her own private space was instrumental in giving us all the peace of mind we needed. To know she was comfortable at home and in the community she had grown to love was an added bonus. It allowed her the ability to maintain her daily walks with her great-grandchildren, her involvement in her church, activities with her friends, and dinners at home with the family.
Later that year, she was diagnosed with cancer. We learned the cancer would progress in a manner which would cause her to lose the ability to walk. Fortunately, we knew the home modifications we made were exactly what was needed.
An assisted living facility would have never been an option for us. We were actively involved with her treatment, we wanted to be the ones to care for her as much as possible, and from a cultural perspective, we don’t believe in placing our loved ones in assisted living facilities.
As we faced the uncertainty of her illness, we were grateful to be able to enjoy having her at home participating in everyday life. The initial diagnosis gave her one year to live. Ultimately, she was able to live an additional two years. We believed that being happy and comfortable at home with her family and in her community was a major contributing factor to that extension. For us, knowing she spent the last few years of her life happy and safe contributed to our peace of mind.[photo of Nylma] It is this experience, combined with the understanding a worldwide pandemic makes our seniors even more vulnerable than they already are, which caused me to focus my design skills and inspire me to help others safely “Age at Home”. From design elements to structural changes, my focus is to ensure our seniors are able to live in a home they love, is beautiful, and is safe.
‘Aging in Place’ is a term used to describe a person living in the home of their choice, for as long as they are able to as they age. This includes the use of any services (or other support) they might need as their needs change. For me, ‘Aging in Place’ is living in the home you feel proud of and the community you love on your own terms.
As I continue sharing on this blog, I’ll be providing insight and guidance on a number of important “Aging at Home” factors:
- Aging at Home Risks
- Design elements of importance
- Where help can be found
- Common mistakes
- Financial approaches
- Tips and Tricks
Stay tuned. There is a lot to cover!