A senior moment: Sharing the journey

The Birds and Green sharing their journey.

By Danna Downing

Meet Homer Green: He is the father of Peg Bird and the father-in-law of Jim Bird. Homer now lives with them in a home he helped remodel about four years ago. Family members fondly call the home “the grands’ house” which is a welcoming destination for many family activities.

Always an active person, Homer worked until the age of 76. During those last years, he was also his beloved wife’s primary caregiver in their Wayne County home. After his wife of 55 years passed away, he lived in an independent living apartment designed for seniors in his home community. He found the experience not to his liking. “I was out in the middle of nowhere and too far away from family and friends,” he reports. Extended visits to family members were welcome and appreciated, but he had not found his real home. Family discussions centered on other living arrangements that would be more suitable. As life usually happens, what they first thought and planned did not quite work. But all three of the “grands” agree that what they have now is much better.

“One of my favorite things about our situation is hearing the intergenerational chatter about home maintenance projects when the individual families get together to share suggestions and help each other out” shares Peg. As for Jim, a wood worker and former shop teacher, he and Homer became true buddies as they worked together to get their shared home ready for occupancy. During that time, they often went to lunch at the nearby Indian Run Golf Course club house to celebrate their progress with the remodeling project. During the warm months, Homer likes to use his scooter to go the club house on his own to meet with his new friends. Homer is also a proud and active honorary member of the Rotary Club of Vicksburg. “It feels more like my real life,” according to Homer.

At 92, Homer has some significant health issues to manage. He is proactive about monitoring and recording health information for his doctors. Peg helps him navigate the healthcare and insurance systems, but he is the one who minds his appointment schedule and other household tasks to help out the family. “We count on that,” chuckled Peg and Jim. Homer shares that Jim and Peg do the things he does not like to do, like cooking. “My biggest job,” says Homer, “is to stay stress free to protect my heart and I can do that here.” Homer loves to read and working in the home’s spacious workshop keeps him happy and “out of mischief.” Peg sums it up nicely: “One of the most important lessons I have learned is that we adult children are most concerned about our parents’ safety while our parents are most concerned about their autonomy. We must let go of some things and let them live their lives in the most fulfilling and independent way possible.”

The whole household is deeply grateful for the local healthcare providers in Vicksburg. They also appreciate the Bronson health system which they find to be more personal, accessible, and helpful. Peg encourages other caregivers to make the effort to plan ahead by learning about available resources, tracking the services they rely on, and finding good solutions that keep older adults at the center of decisions and acting as the director of all their options. They are also pleased with the set-up they have created and the attending blessings that come from close family connections and support as the years go by

Almost 25% of all caregivers are unpaid friends and family members who are considered to be informal caregivers. They work creatively and tirelessly to help older adults age safely in their homes and community. We salute and thank this family for sharing their journey.

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