Elderly Health Can Present Different Living Situations During the Holidays

Dec 30, 2013

Sometimes health changes in the elderly can present different living situations for families when the holidays arrive.  WAER’s John Smith introduces us to a daughter and father who tried to keep their holiday traditions this year... even across the miles.

Ira Mitchell (left) with his daughter Francine Berg, Music Director of Menorah Park in Syracuse.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

When dementia advanced enough for Francine Berg‘s father, she decided to relocate the 93 year-old a year and a half ago from Florida to Syracuse.  He was placed this month into an assisted senior living program.    

  • Reporter: “And now you get to see one another that much more.”  
  • Berg: “Everyday, right Dad?” 
  • Father: “Yeah, she’s a very good daughter.” 

It was a decision that’s not an easy one to make... however, Berg was already acquainted with Menorah Park where she serves as the Music Director.  The miles are separating her father Ira Mitchell from their 91 year-old mother and wife, respectively, who still resides in Florida.  She is staying active in the Sunshine State and recently auditioned as a singing and tap dance act for America’s Got Talent.  Berg encourages her father to stay active along with residents at the facility.

  • Berg: “We just danced downstairs to the jukebox didn’t we?
  • Father: “Yep, yep.”
  • Berg:  “Just like we did in the 1970’s at the Hippopotamus Club in NYC.”

Berg is not alone in making the choice to move parents into assisted living.  Part of what will hopefully be a successful transition is to also create a “home away from home” setting.  Even if residents can’t travel for the holidays, they can go down a hallway turned into streetscapes and building facades.  As Menorah Park CEO Mary Ellen Bloodgood explains, it’s a trip down Memory Lane.

A facade creates an old theater facade in a hallway at Menorah Park.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Times Square !!!
Credit John Smith/WAER News

  • Bloodgood: “1950’s, 1940’s Showtime, an old theater.  New York City background.  
  • Reporter:  “It’s very nice.  I kind of feel like I’m at Times Square.  There’s the ball right on the top there.”
  • Bloodgood:  “That’s exactly how you should feel. You should feel (like) you’re in another place and another time.” 

Which reminds us of what the holidays are all about, recalling cherished memories that feel "timeless." 

  • Berg: “I’m a lucky girl, aren’t I ?”
  • Father: “Yes you are!” (laughter)