Daughter cautions to other adult children: ‘Don’t wait until a crisis’

November 7, 2017

After helping her mother with a health crisis, Iona board member Jennifer Disharoon cautions other adult children: start planning now!

Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that at age 45 I would be dealing with a caregiving crisis involving my mother. By most standards, my 69-year-old mother would be too young to experience the type of health issues that force an older adult to seek outside help.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened.

Sleepless nights and frantic questions

My mother had suffered all her life from mental health issues and obesity, which morphed into mobility issues and other health concerns as she aged. When I got the call that every child dreads informing me that my mother was in the hospital and gravely ill, I was completely unprepared.

I wish I could have back all the sleepless nights and avoided the stomach-churning stress I experienced while helping my mother make important decisions regarding her care. What should I do about her finances? Is assisted living the right option for my mother? How will we pay for the additional care she desperately needs?

After the dust settled and my mother had moved into assisted living, I wished that I had taken steps earlier and understood the programs and options available to the aging.

That is what drew me to Iona.

Connecting with Iona

My first introduction to Iona Senior Services was through my employer. My firm bid on providing accounting services which allowed me to understand more about Iona’s mission as well as the services and programs they provide to the community.

If only I knew about Iona Care Management, one of Iona’s many services, earlier! I could have saved myself a number of headaches and a great deal of confusion as I explored options for my mother who could no longer care for herself.

Iona’s community impact

After spending countless hours on the phone and in meetings with various agencies and institutions and trying to figure out what to do for my mother, I have truly come to appreciate the role Iona plays in our community.

I have since recommended Iona to colleagues and friends with aging parents who need adult day services, fitness classes, nutrition services and information to help with a difficult transition. Iona even provides support for caregivers who often feel overwhelmed by the enormous challenge of juggling the responsibilities associated with an aging parent while also managing a career, a household, and children.

Today, I am very pleased to serve on Iona’s board of directors and participate as a volunteer for weekend meal delivery. I see the positive impact that Iona has had on the people they serve with my own eyes every time I deliver a meal or visit Iona’s building. Now that I am familiar with all the resources available from Iona, I find myself seeking out the resources on their website and engaging with the programs and services offered.

Don’t wait — plan ahead!

I am happy to report that my mother is thriving in a wonderful assisted living community, she is receiving the necessary healthcare, and her financial situation is stable.

Following my own experience, I tell friends, family, and colleagues that it is never too early to start thinking about caring for aging parents or other family members. Even an introduction to the programs and services available to aging adults, as well as the areas that seniors and their caregivers need to be prepared to address, goes a long way toward making the transition easier and less disruptive for all involved.

If you or your family is starting to question what happens when mom and dad can no longer manage on their own, I encourage you to talk with Iona. Do not wait for a crisis – plan ahead!

To speak with an expert social worker, contact Iona’s Helpline at (202) 895-9448, or email info@iona.org.

By Jennifer Disharoon

Jennifer Disharoon, MBA serves as Marketing Director at Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman CPAs. She has 20 years of experience in professional services marketing including branding, campaign management, and business development, and she has held a number of leadership positions in the professional services industry. Her interests and volunteer work include support for women and children affected by domestic violence, women with cancer, and aging adults.