My client base comprises both individuals and families. For proactive individuals who seek to shape their aging journey according to their personal preferences, I assist in creating a roadmap for their future. Surrendering the responsibility of making healthy choices for our later years can lead to missed opportunities. Ensuring that this doesn’t happen is deeply fulfilling, both for me and the people I support.

When families reach out to me, it’s typically due to a crisis or an unsustainable situation that demands significant changes, particularly concerning an elderly family member who lacks prior planning. These individuals often feel adrift, isolated, anxious, or unhappy.

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Allow me to introduce you to Mary Ann, a representative case:

Mary Ann
In Mary Ann’s case, she was unaware of the toll her dependency took on her daughter, June, and the entire family. She didn’t realize that, on weekdays, June woke up two hours earlier to get the children to school and then rushed to Mary Ann’s house to ensure she was up, dressed, and fed before heading to work herself. Mary Ann didn’t understand why June couldn’t answer her multiple phone calls during the day or stay for dinner or a walk after preparing the evening meal. June, in turn, felt overwhelmed and exhausted, missing valuable time with her husband and children. Mary Ann was lonely and bored, particularly annoyed that June didn’t spend more time with her on weekends. However, Mary Ann’s memory lapses prevented her from realizing that June’s daily visits were prompted by three hospitalizations in the last 12 months, all due to preventable issues stemming from her inability to manage on her own. The situation became unbearable for June when she had to miss her own daughter’s piano recital for the second time, recognizing that she had not only let her child down but had also neglected her own well-being and family.

Solutions for Everyone
To alleviate June’s stress, she and I had a meeting to discuss Mary Ann’s challenges and her immediate and future well-being goals. During this consultation, we also delved into June’s own personal aspirations. Subsequently, Mary Ann underwent a clinical assessment, revealing her love for walking in the city park’s garden and watching horticultural shows on TV. She was eager to explore ways to rekindle her connection with nature rather than remaining isolated at home.

A written care plan was developed based on her medical information and clinical assessment, addressing Mary Ann’s physical and social needs. Improving her quality of life also meant enhancing the quality of life for June and her family.

I recommended a geriatric care manager to implement the care plan, which included a daily caregiver/companion to assist Mary Ann with personal care, meal preparation, and social interaction. June continued to manage her mom’s medication while the caregiver ensured it was administered correctly.

One important aspect of the care plan involved socialization beyond the caregiver/companion if Mary Ann could engage with others outside her home. Although forgetful, she was capable of social interaction and thrived when volunteering at the park’s rose garden. The connections she made with other volunteers revitalized her, and her previous unhappiness and annoyance, expressed as depression, lifted.

These changes transformed the social dynamic between Mary Ann and June. What had become an increasingly caregiver-care recipient relationship once again became a mother-daughter bond. Mary Ann enjoyed pleasant days, received proper care, and June could refocus on her own family life.

To learn more about gerontology and how I can assist you in providing better care for your loved ones while restoring balance to your life, please visit

Kathy Faenzi PhotoKathy C. Faenzi MA is a Clinical Gerontologist and Senior Care Consultant based in San Mateo, CA.

JC Spicer, M.Ed. is a Freelance Social Science Writer and Developmental Editor based in the U.K.