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Supportive Living Isn't A Dirty Word

Supportive Living Isn’t A Dirty Word

Lifestyle Specialist Yvette McWhorter from Victory Centre of Park Forest rebuffs common misconceptions about Illinois’ supportive living program and quality of life. For families with financial limitations, supportive living offers a fulfilling lifestyle program without the compromise.

About a year ago, my friend Victoria started to notice her mother Doris was misplacing items, forgetting the names of common household objects and asking the same question several times in a row. Initially, Victoria shrugged it off thinking, “Oh, that happens to everyone every once in a while.” As time went on, Doris became irritable and increasingly more withdrawn. Victoria grew worried because the outgoing, witty and engaging person she remembered was changing right before her eyes. After scheduling an appointment to see the doctor, her greatest fears had come true; Her mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Victoria was devastated by the reality of the diagnosis and when they got home, she cried for hours. It seemed so unfair. What would she do? She knew she had to pull herself together fast. Being an only child, there was no one else to share the responsibility of taking care of Doris. Quitting her job wasn’t an option. Victoria was also single, had a three-year-old child and a mortgage. She had given Home Health Care and Adult Daycare some consideration but Victoria needed help around the clock. The demands of her job and motherhood were too great to give Doris the attention and care she required. One of her co-workers recommended Assisted Living. The thought of putting her mother in “a home” filled her with guilt. Not to mention how could she afford it? In the past, it was considered shameful to allow a family member to be placed in “a home”. Most people felt it was their obligation to care for their own and the elderly we’re often cared for by a host of relatives and friends, not to mention the stigma attached to nursing homes. Today, fewer people are available to fill the role of the care taker because families are getting smaller and family structures have evolved.

In recent years, regulations have astoundingly improved senior care. With more home-like decor and life-enriching programs are among the many changes that have given senior living a warmer, less institutionalized feel and the care is individualized to meet the wellness needs of each person.

The Alzheimer’s Association states, “5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.” The effects of the disease can be overwhelming for the family and their loved ones. Strategies have to be put in place ensure security while decisions about living arrangements, wellness, and finances have to be discussed. Everyone wants what’s best, but sometimes conflict arises and adds more stress at a time when emotions are already high.

Supportive and assisted living communities are fairly new alternatives available to seniors and their families. Some of the services offered are assistance with activities of daily living, meals, housekeeping, laundry and medical care. Depression due to isolation can and does occur as friends start to pass away and mobilization issues prevent seniors from being as active as they once were. Pathway to Living’s signature philosophy, VIVA!, represents “long live”, which is exactly what we encourage our residents and team to live every day! Such programs will foster socialization, spark creativity and encourage interaction with peers while challenging residents to live their best life.

Private apartments allow seniors to maintain their independence as we promote aging in place, meaning our community will continue to accommodate and provide support even as wellness needs change.

Victoria made the decision to move Doris into supportive living and today, their family couldn’t be happier. Doris has many new friends, her appetite has normalized and she regularly engages in all signature programs offered. Victoria loves to visit and take Doris out to dinner with her granddaughter in tow. By making the decision to move her mother into a supportive living community, Victoria can relinquish guilty and rediscover the mother, daughter relationship.

According to, “Experts estimate that the boomer generation will bring a 75% increase in people over the age of 65 needing senior care, to nearly 2.3 million people by 2030”. This industry will need to meet the needs of people from all walks of life. It is no longer a luxury that is only available to the wealthy. Medicaid is available to those who qualify and to residents whose funds have been exhausted.

Unlike nursing homes from decades ago, the idea of senior care has changed for the good. There are more options, better care and laws in place to regulate compliance. Choosing to move your mom or dad to assisted living is still a tough decision, but now there are options. Just remember everyone needs help at some time in their lives, and in these changing times, society has adjusted to this new way of life and supportive living isn’t a dirty word.