Home Improvements and Modifications for Aging in Place

By JULIA WEAVER / REDFIN BLOG | January 5, 2021

For more, visit REDFIN blog.

Now more than ever before, we’re seeing more adults choosing to live at home as they grow in years, or what is known as aging in place. Living at home helps aging adults maintain their lifestyle for as long as possible, rather than moving into a nursing home or assisted care center. In fact, three-quarters of adults 50 years and older would prefer to remain in their homes as they age, according to a survey by AARP. Though many of us won’t be able to live independently forever, home modifications will allow your loved ones to continue to live in their home longer by creating a more manageable environment. Whether they’re living in a single-story condo in Dallas, TX  or a three-story home in Portland, OR, there are modifications that can be made to every home to help make daily tasks a little easier.

A single-story home for aging in place

Helpful home modifications

As we grow older our bodies and capabilities change, and not all homes are designed to support this challenge we’ll face. A lot of times doorways are too narrow, bathrooms too small, floors too slippery, and kitchen cabinets too high to reach. For aging adults, a home designed for optimal accessibility, convenience, and safety is imperative to avoid falls or serious injuries. 

Optimizing a home for safe and comfortable living while creating a home environment that makes getting around easier is essential for aging in place. That’s why we’ve gathered the most common home modifications, from simple adjustments to larger remodeling projects.

General Home modifications to aid in mobility

  • Install handrails. For aging in place, add handrails to stairs, hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms for extra balance.
  • Upgrade the lighting. Replace existing bulbs with LED bulbs to increase visibility. Consider installing touch-activated lamps, and placing night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
  • Install lever door handles. Switch out standard round doorknobs for lever-style handles. These do not require the same level of grip.
  • Install a stairlift. This is a great alternative when walking up stairs becomes more difficult. Install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent your loved one from using the stairs in the dark.
  • Install automated blinds. This style of window treatment allows aging adults to adjust their blinds without having to stand up.
  • Create an open floor plan. Make wide passageways throughout the home with little obstruction. Widen doorways and hallways if your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair to navigate their home.
  • Replace hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl flooring for carpet. If your loved one doesn’t use a wheelchair, carpet will be most forgiving and provides more floor consistency.

For the living room

  • Rearrange furniture and remove clutter. To avoid tripping hazards, be sure furniture placement leaves plenty of space to move about the room safely.
  • Install anti-slip mats. Add strips to the bottom of rugs to increase traction and reduce the chances of tripping.
  • Replace unsteady furniture. Discard furniture that wobbles to prevent falls, and add plastic bumpers to the sharp edges on furniture pieces.

For the kitchen

  • Keep daily-use items accessible. Store small appliances, cookware, and tableware between waist and shoulder height to avoid the need to crouch down or use a step stool.
  • Consider purchasing a stovetop with an automatic shut-off feature. Once the sensors fail to detect motion for an extended period of time, the stove will shut off.
  • Install a hands-free faucet and anti-scald device. Easily turn the water on and off with the wave of a hand, and install an anti-scald device to avoid the possibility of burns.
  • Replace kitchen cabinets and adjust counter and sink height. For more convenient storage space, install drawers, open shelving, or pull out shelves. Choose a counter height where it’s easy to prepare meals and wash dishes while sitting.
  • Adjust the location of major appliances. Place the oven, sink, and refrigerator as close to each other as possible.

For the bathroom

  • Add adhesive strips to a bath mat in showers and tubs. This can help prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
  • Install non-skid strips in case the flooring becomes slippery. Try to avoid ceramic tile as this can become slick when it’s wet.
  • Install a walk-in bathtub or a shower transfer bench. This can greatly reduce the chances of slipping and falling. Climbing in and out of a traditional bathtub or standing for an extended period of time may become more difficult. 
  • Install grab bars or rails in bathtubs and near the toilet. This will improve mobility and help to prevent falls.
  • Install a raised toilet seat. An elevated toilet seat decreases the distance between standing and sitting.

For the home’s exterior

  • Create at least one no-step entry into the home. Replace exterior stairs with a removable ramp for a smooth transition into and out of the home.
  • Add exterior lighting and landscape lighting. To avoid falling or tripping, add outdoor lighting to walkways and stairs.
  • Install handrails. Add handrails on both sides of walkways for extra support and balance.
  • Choose low maintenance materials. Opt for vinyl siding, metal roofing, composite decking, and low maintenance landscaping.
  • Install a security system. A home security system can give your loved one a sense of security and protection.

How to pay for home modifications 

While in the end, it’s generally less expensive to age in place as opposed to living in a senior living community, the upfront costs for a remodel can add up. Luckily there are resources and programs available, such as home improvement grants, equipment loans, and low-interest loans. 

You should also consider researching programs like Medicare Advantage, Non-Medicaid Government assistance and Medicaid HCBS Waivers, Veterans programs, and non-profit organizations for financial help. As you’re crunching the numbers, it’s important to remember that the cost associated with home modifications has two components: the labor cost and the materials cost. Oftentimes, the cost of labor for installing the equipment will not be covered by insurance.

Create a support system with senior care and services

Forming a support system for your loved one is a big part of aging in place. Besides the support from family members, it’s a good idea to consider senior care and services for your aging parent. There is a network of services available, including meal delivery, nurses, transportation, and house cleaning services. 

In-home care services are also offered at various levels depending on the situation. On days when you’re unavailable, an elder companion could spend time with your loved one to prevent social isolation. In-home caregivers can provide help with day-to-day activities like cooking, grooming, or shopping, while also making sure your loved one is safe in their home

Introduce technology into your loved one’s home

Assistive technology solutions, smart home features, and tech gadgets can be used to help simplify everyday tasks, promote independence, and stay safe while aging in place. There are all sorts of devices, like medical alert devices to signal for help, assistive seating devices to lift your loved one into the standing position, and smart bulbs that can be controlled remotely.

Individual results may vary.
This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed and bonded home services professional.

Redfin does not provide medical advice.
All of the material provided on Redfin’s blog, such as text, treatments, dosages, outcomes, charts, patient profiles, graphics, photographs, images, advice, messages, forum postings, and any other material provided on Redfin’s blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Redfin’s blog.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Redfin does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on Redfin’s blog. Reliance on any information provided by Redfin’s blog, by persons appearing on Redfin’s blog at the invitation of Redfin’s blog, or by other members is solely at your own risk.

Questions about Hospice Care & Palliative Care

An Interview with the Denver Hospice

In light of the National Hospice Care and Palliative Care Month, Amber Personal Care wants to share with you what we learned from Denver Hospice about this special category of healthcare.

Email us for a transcript.

Do you need Medicaid Planning Help or a Senior Care Advisor?

Amber Personal Care is proud to introduce Sensible Senior Planning to provide the most integrated care experience for our clients and senior care community. Sensible Senior Planning provides Medicaid solutions to clients that need help navigating the complicated Medicaid applications and finding resources that best suit their needs. Tzivya Green is the Executive Director at Sensible Senior Planning. She has over 10 years of senior care experience. 

Over the last decade I have encountered hundreds of individuals who were searching for healthcare options for their aging loved ones. The #1 thing that families take into consideration is funding for healthcare services. Most people are aware that Medicaid covers the cost of nursing homes, but many do not know that Medicaid can also help cover the cost of personal care services in the individuals own home.  

Recently I was working with a family who was paying privately for in-home caregivers. The daughter called me and said that her mother had $40,000 left and they needed to look in to placing her in a nursing home so she can get the care she needs and that Medicaid would cover the cost.  

However, after discussing further, I discovered that her mother had great quality of life being at home, and that it was her wish to remain in her home. I provided her with educational materials on Medicaid Long Term Care and within the week, we were able to get the Medicaid Long Term Care process started and the mother will have a smooth transition from private pay services to services covered by Medicaid. She will enjoy the continuity of care and maintain the quality of life she while living in her home. The family was pleasantly surprised that she was able to stay at home.  

If you need assistance applying for Medicaid or if you have a question about Medicaid and the services it covers, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s never too early to start planning for Medicaid eligibility.

Tzivya Green

Tzivya Green
Executive Director
Sensible Senior Planning
P: 855-9PLANNI (855-975-2664)
W: sensibleseniorplanning.com
E: tgreen@sensibleseniorplanning.com

How to Talk to Your Loved One about Long-term Care

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” Of course, planning for your loved one’s long-term care can be difficult. Conversations are the most important start to planning long-term care for your loved ones, but they can be tricky. With so many emotions involved, how do you start a productive discussion about the future? While there’s no clear script to follow, there are several tips you should keep in mind.

  • Be ready: Start by looking into different long-term care options, such as home care or assisted living, as well as the necessary paperwork for each option. Familiarize yourself with the prices and questions you should ask. Be sure to check in with yourself before the conversation starts. A few questions you can ask are “what is most important to me?” “am I ready for this?” and “how would I want this conversation to go if I were in my loved one’s position?”
    Keep in mind that these discussions may take longer than you currently expect.  Also, consider who should be present as you talk: groups can provide support, but also be pressuring if they get too large. Find a quiet area to talk that is free of distractions. It may help to lookup services in the area ahead of time as a beginning point. 
  • Start early and keep an open mind: While difficult times are the last thing you may want to discuss right now, the sooner you start the better. These conversations will take time and will involve a lot of thought and planning. Look carefully into each option and talk frankly with your loved ones about what is best for them. There are a host of resources to describe these options, and looking into the pros and cons of each choice will help you begin your search. You and your loved ones may need time to consider these options and think about what’s best.
  • Voice your feelings: Empathy is your friend throughout these discussions. Remember the Golden Rule: how would you like to be treated if you were in your loved one’s shoes? If you feel passionate about a topic based on fear or concern, be sure to let them know. It always helps to remind everyone involved that you love them and want what’s best for them. On the other hand, be ready to hear and address their feelings as well. Remind yourself that no one will agree completely, but different opinions do not make someone wrong.
  • Prepare yourself and your loved ones: Bringing long-term care to the home or moving to a long-term care facility will be a transition for all involved. Chances are your parent or loved one has not experienced these circumstances in many, many years. Look into testimonials from others to know what to expect, and share that information with everyone else. Keep in mind that you will be impacted as well, so you may want to inform those close to you you will be going through a difficult time. If your plan involves moving your loved one to a new location, such as an assisted care facility, try to tour it ahead of time and ask questions about favorite activities. The more information you can find, the easier the transition will be.
  • Make a clear plan: The closer you get to implement your plan, the more small decisions will arise. Answering as many questions as you can ahead of time will make those choices easier. A common mistake is not making plans after the transition occurs. Establishing a routine can add comfort to change. If you’re worried about a lack of communication, for example, try setting up a certain time to call.
  • Work together: You and your loved ones are partners in this planning stage. This dynamic may be different than the one you are used to, so you may want to set up some ground rules. Keep in mind that this choice will impact you both, so work to find decisions that help you both. When working together you have to listen to one another, especially when that gets difficult. Remember at the end of the day that you have a common goal in mind.
  • Be ready for change: As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, even the best-laid plans can run into complications. Keep in mind that circumstances may change for any of the parties involved and plans will need to change with them.

We know that creating long-term plans for your loved ones can be painful or difficult. While the conversation may be hard, starting now can only help further down the road. If you would like further information about long-term care options in the Colorado area, we offer a free consultation.

What is Personal Care?

“Home care can be defined as an array of health and social support services provided to clients in their own residence”

Knight Steel & Henk Tjassing.

When aging or health issues starting to affect someone performing personal activities of daily living (PADL) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), home care service becomes an attractive option for people who are affected, as they can keep living in their own home. More about home care.

Personal Care Services

Personal Care services are an array of services that personal care workers or caregivers can perform to assist with personal activities of daily living (PADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).

PADLs

Hygiene

Eating

Mobility/Moving

Continence

Dressing

Grooming

Toileting

IADLs

Home-keeping

Transportation – services differ with certain insurance providers

Medications

Meal Preparations

Laundry

Shopping

Various Errands

Home Care vs Assisted Living: Making the Right Choice for You

Making decisions about care for yourself or your loved one can be a difficult, overwhelming task. You’re probably not sure where to start or what questions to ask, and feel like there are too many choices to make to ensure the best experience possible. If so, you’re not alone. Fortunately there are many options for people who need a little extra help. Home care and assisted living are options that have helped millions of individuals who need a little extra aid day-to-day, and they can help you too.

Home Care

As the name implies, home care allows you to remain in the familiar comfort of your own house. You can stay in your own bed, eat at your regular table, and enjoy the home you created. Home care gives you the freedom to select certain times of care that work best for your needs, even 24/7, and have assistance whenever you need it. Home care has also been found to reduce time spent in the hospital, saving time and money. In an additional study, home visits reduced rates of mortality and longer term care in senior patients.

As of 2015, there were 4.5 million patients in the United States receiving home care. Home care assistants can be medical professionals for necessary procedures such as shots or emergencies. Home caregivers could also be individuals skilled in care for clients with a wide array of needs. Either way, home caregivers are much more than a visiting guest; they provide consistency and companionship in addition to experience. Home care can also be an additional feature for persons in senior living communities: housing communities in which seniors can live near each other. 

Assisted Living

Similar to home care, assisted living allows you to live your life and receive help when you need it. It involves moving into a new place, such as a residential care community. In a recent study, residents in community-dwelling exhibited better improvement of daily living activities compared to individuals treated in a regular hospital.

As of 2015, there were over 811,000 residents in over 28,000 long-term residential care communities. Assisted living communities provide care when you need it, while also adding the social dynamic of new people. Caregivers in assisted living communities can also help with daily tasks as needed.

There is no one size fits all right choice between home care and assisted living; circumstances are different for everyone and always changing. There are, however, a few questions that you can ask to find the right choice for you:

  • Do your current housing options fit your needs?: With many options for long-term care come many options for housing. For many older adults, aging in place provides comfort and familiarity during a difficult time. Others may prefer the opportunity to live somewhere new or in a community. Which circumstance best fits your needs? Are there any medical or environmental factors which may make living at home easier or difficult? When deciding on home care vs. assisted living, ask yourself how comfortable you feel in your home, and if you can see yourself remaining there long-term.
  • What are the specifics of your needs? Home care professionals can be hourly or live-in, whereas assisted living communities are typically always staffed. Do you need assistance for a few hours per day and during consistent times? Or are your needs more sudden or long-term? If the latter is the case, you may want to consider assisted living or a live-in home caregiver. Home care also offers better options for schedule flexibility compared to assisted living communities.
  • What form of care do you need? Home care professionals can offer a wide array of services to fit your needs, beyond those offered by assisted care facilities. Home care services can specifically fit individuals recovering from surgery, patients with physical disabilities, or patients with dementia, in addition to seniors. 
  • What are your ideal social dynamics? Home care can provide one-on-one companionship, while assisted living can also introduce you to a whole community of new people. What level of social interaction would you like? It is worth considering that multiple studies have found that increased social interaction with individuals outside one’s family is good for seniors and can have many benefits.

We know that these choices are not easy and you are likely feeling lost. Answering these questions now can be the compass to guide you out of that confusion. 

We hope you have found these suggestions helpful. If you are considering home care in the Colorado area, we would like to be even more helpful with a free consultation.

The Dangers of Loneliness

Friendship is a lot like food. We need it to survive. Psychologists find that human beings have a fundamental need for inclusion in group life and for close relationships.

By  Hara Estroff Marano, published July 1, 2003 – last reviewed on June 9, 2016. View Article.

Friendship is a lot like food. We need it to survive. What is more, we seem to have a basic drive for it. Psychologists find that human beings have fundamental need for inclusion in group life and for close relationships. We are truly social animals.

The upshot is, we function best when this social need is met. It is easier to stay motivated, to meet the varied challenges of life.

In fact, evidence has been growing that when our need for social relationships is not met, we fall apart mentally and even physically. There are effects on the brain and on the body. Some effects work subtly, through the exposure of multiple body systems to excess amounts of stresshormones. Yet the effects are distinct enough to be measured over time, so that unmet social needs take a serious toll on health, eroding our arteries, creating high blood pressure, and even undermining learning and memory.

A lack of close friends and a dearth of broader social contact generally bring the emotional discomfort or distress known as loneliness. It begins with an awareness of a deficiency of relationships. This cognitive awareness plays through our brain with an emotional soundtrack. It makes us sad. We might feel an emptiness. We may be filled with a longing for contact. We feel isolated, distanced from others, deprived. These feelings tear away at our emotional well-being.

Despite the negative effects of loneliness, it can hardly be considered abnormal. It is a most normal feeling. Everyone feels lonely sometimes—after a break-up with a friend or lover, when we move to a new place, when we are excluded from some social gathering.

Chronic loneliness is something else entirely. It is one of the surest markers in existence for maladjustment.

In children, it leads to all kinds of problems. Failure to be socially connected to peers is the real reason behind most school dropouts. It sets in motion a course on which children spin their way to outcast status and develop delinquency and other forms of antisocial behavior.

In adults, loneliness is a major precipitant of depression and alcoholism. And it increasingly appears to be the cause of a range of medical problems, some of which take decades to show up.

Psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has been tracking the effects of loneliness. He performed a series of novel studies and reported that loneliness works in some surprising ways to compromise health.

  • Perhaps most astonishing, in a survey he conducted, doctors themselves confided that they provide better or more complete medical care to patients who have supportive families and are not socially isolated.
  • Living alone increases the risk of suicide for young and old alike.
  • Lonely individuals report higher levels of perceived stress even when exposed to the same stressors as non-lonely people, and even when they are relaxing.
  • The social interaction lonely people do have are not as positive as those of other people, hence the relationships they have do not buffer them from stress as relationships normally do.
  • Loneliness raises levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure. It undermines regulation of the circulatory system so that the heart muscle works harder and the blood vessels are subject to damage by blood flow turbulence.
  • Loneliness destroys the quality and efficiency of sleep, so that it is less restorative, both physically and psychologically. They wake up more at night and spend less time in bed actually sleeping than do the nonlonely.

Loneliness, Cacioppo concludes, sets in motion a variety of “slowly unfolding pathophysiological processes.” The net result is that the lonely experience higher levels of cumulative wear and tear.

In other words, we are built for social contact. There are serious—life-threatening—consequences when we don’t get enough. We can’t stay on track mentally. And we are compromised physically. Social skills are crucial for your health.

Older Couples Are Increasingly Living Apart. Here’s Why.

By JUDITH GRAHAM / KAISER HEALTH NEWS  | May 10, 2018

For more, visit TIME Health.

Three years ago, William Mamel climbed a ladder in Margaret Sheroff’s apartment and fixed a malfunctioning ceiling fan. “I love that you did this,” Sheroff exclaimed as he clambered back down.

Spontaneously, Mamel drew Sheroff to him and gave her a kiss. “I kind of surprised her. But she was open to it,” he remembered.

Since then, Mamel, 87, and Sheroff, 74, have become a deeply committed couple. “Most nights, I’ll have dinner with Marg and many nights I stay with her overnight,” Mamel explained.

And yet, despite the romance, these North Carolina seniors live in separate houses and don’t plan to move in together or marry. Demographers call this type of relationship “living apart together” (LAT).

“It’s a new, emerging form of family, especially among older adults, that’s on the rise,” said Laura Funk, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Manitoba in Canada who’s written about living apart together.

Questions abound about these unconventional couplings. What effects will they have on older adults’ health and well-being? Will children from previous marriages accept them? What will happen if one partner becomes seriously ill and needs caregiving?

Researchers are beginning to focus on these concerns, said Susan Brown, chair of the sociology department and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “It’s really remarkable that older adults are in the vanguard of family change,” she said.

ADVERTISING

How many older adults are in LAT relationships? According to a 2005 survey by the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, 7% of individuals between 57 and 85 years old described themselves as living apart together. (Some experts contend the measure used in this survey was too broad, allowing couples who are dating to be included.)

Last month, at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Denver, Huijing Wu, a graduate student in sociology at Bowling Green State University, presented an analysis of nearly 7,700 Wisconsin adults age 50 and older surveyed in 2011. Married couples accounted for 71.5% of that group, single people accounted for 20.5%, and people who were “partnered but unmarried” accounted for 8%.

Of the partnered group, 39% were in LAT relationships, according to a more focused definition of this arrangement, compared with 31% who were dating (a less committed, shorter-term relationship) and 30% who were cohabiting.

Jacquelyn Benson, an assistant professor of human development and family science at the University of Missouri, is among a handful of researchers who have studied the experiences of older people in LAT relationships. “Older adults really see this as a lifestyle choice, not a relationship of convenience,” she said.

Benson’s 2016 study of 25 older adults (from 60 to 88 years old) in LAT relationships found various motivations for these partnerships. Seniors wanted to have “intimate companionship” while maintaining their own homes, social circles, customary activities and finances, she discovered. Those who’d been divorced or in unhappy earlier marriages didn’t want to tie themselves down again and believed a degree of distance was preferable to day-to-day togetherness.

Also, several women who’d cared previously for sick parents or husbands wanted to avoid assuming caregiving responsibilities or the burden of running a household again.

“It’s a been-there-done-that attitude,” Brown explained. “I took care of my husband, I reared my children, and now it’s my time.”

Caregiving is a thorny issue, on multiple fronts. The only known study to look at caregiving in LAT relationships, out of the Netherlands, found that about half of partners planned to provide care, if needed — a sign of ambivalence. But when illness entered the picture, partners offered assistance nonetheless.

“People in LAT relationships forget there’s going to be this emotional entanglement and they won’t just be able to walk away,” Benson said.

Other complications can arise if adult children resent or fail to recognize their older parent’s outside-of-marriage relationship. “In some cases, when a partner wants to step in and have a say, they’ve been pushed out by family members,” Benson noted.

One older woman in her study learned that her partner had been placed in a nursing home by his family only when she couldn’t reach him at home anymore. “They didn’t include her in the conversation at all,” Benson said, “and she was pretty upset about it.”

Only a few studies have evaluated the quality of LAT relationships, which has implications for seniors’ well-being. One found that older adults in these relationships tend to be less happy and receive less support from partners than people who are married. Another, presented at last year’s Population Association of America meeting, found that the quality of LAT relationships isn’t as strong as it is for marriages.

That hasn’t been true for Luci Dannar, 90, who’s been involved with James Pastoret, 94, for almost seven years, after meeting him at a dance at a Columbia, Mo., senior center.

“The first feeling I had for Jim was sorrow because he seemed to be grieving from his wife’s death five months before,” said Dannar, whose husband and oldest daughter both passed away 19 years ago. “I thought maybe I could be helpful to this man because I’d been through those deaths.”

After getting to know Pastoret and realizing she liked him, Dannar laid down her terms. “I told him, I don’t ever want to get married and he said ‘I don’t either,’” she remembered. “And I said if you have a jealous bone in your body, don’t darken my door again. Because I lived 53 years with a jealous husband, and I never want to go through that again.”

Neither wanted to give up their apartments in a retirement community, about 300 steps from each other. “I like my independence,” said Pastoret, who taught in the school of natural resources at the University of Missouri for 33 years. “When I go home at night after supper with Lucy, I’m very happy to be by myself.”

“He comes over at 5 every evening and leaves here about 9, and then I have two hours by myself — my private time,” Dannar said. “We really like our space, our time alone, and we don’t need to be together 24 hours a day.”

Unlike some other older LAT couples, they’ve talked about the future and toured assisted living centers together. “Someday, if he needs me to help him or I need him to help me, we will probably rent an apartment together, with our own bedrooms, and hire extra help,” Dannar said. “Our plan is to take care of each other until one of us is gone or we go into a nursing home.”

William Mamel is already making good on a similar promise to Margaret Sheroff, who had a mass removed from her gallbladder late last year and recently was hospitalized with complications from chemotherapy.

“With her in the hospital, I spend most of my days there,” said Mamel, who was a good friend of Sheroff’s with his wife of 37 years, Betty Ann, who passed away 2½ years ago. “Being caregivers for each other isn’t even a question.”

Their situation is complicated by Sheroff’s guardianship for her husband, John, who has advanced dementia and resides in a nursing home. “Marriage isn’t in the picture for us, but that doesn’t matter,” Sheroff said. “We’re taking one day at a time and enjoying being together.”

“Just to be able to have someone that you can wake up with in the morning and talk to, someone to have coffee with and see the smile on their face, is such a blessing,” she continued. “At this time of life, it’s really, really important to have someone in your life who’s there for you.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers and forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

Symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest pain. The life expectancy for most mesothelioma patients is approximately 12 months after diagnosis. Treatment may improve prognosis and can include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Learn more about mesothelioma and the steps you can take to fight this disease: Go to Asbestos.com

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