Daughter turns to the Center for Healthy Aging to enhance mother's quality of life


September 2016, 

Caring for her mother as she slips deeper into Alzheimer’s disease has been challenging for Southington resident Liz Fenner. She wants the best for her 83-year-old mother yet it has been difficult to balance work and meeting the older woman’s needs. Fenner and her sister opened their homes for three-month time periods in an attempt to juggle responsibilities but the arrangement only added to the stress.

When their mother, Barbara, finally moved full-time into Fenner’s home, Fenner realized she was in over her head and needed help fast. She turned once again to Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, which she had connected with through her physician when her mother was first diagnosed three years ago.

Dementia specialists Patty O’Brian, CDP, and Michelle Wyman, LSW, CDP, recommended the five-part series, “Dementia and Caregiving: Focusing on the Person while Understanding the Disease Progression,” that was held at Southington Library. Fenner and her brother both attended to learn how to best communicate with and relate to their mother to make life a bit easier for everyone.

“It was the best thing I ever went to. If it wasn’t for that program, my brother and I would be clueless. It was such a help with how to deal with mom and we’re using many of the techniques we learned in class,” Fenner said. Of the numerous suggestions that she has incorporated into life one of the most effective has been establishing a daily routine.

As her mother’s dementia progresses, Fenner has continued to turn to the Center for Healthy Aging for additional resources. She said that at least once each day she refers to the Dementia Caregiver Resource Guide, a free comprehensive 80-page book that the Center for Healthy Aging distributes, to learn how best to respond to a situation. Dr. Sowmya Kuratkoti, a geriatrician, evaluated her mother and her needs, while working in conjunction with the older woman’s primary care physician, Dr. Letterio Asciuto.

Barbara recently began attending adult day center at Mulberry Gardens of Southington, which gives Fenner the time to work from home uninterrupted and gain some respite four hours each day. She knows the situation will only get more complicated over time and said her mother will eventually need full-time care at a memory care community. Throughout the process she will continue to seek the guidance of the Center for Healthy Aging professionals.

“It has truly been a godsend,” she said. For more information on Center for Healthy Aging services and upcoming events, call 1.877.4AGING1/1.877.424.4641.