About Clarice

Senior Care Giving TodayThroughout most my life I have been a caregiver in some form or another. I understand how the systems work well, and how they don’t. I have had many moments of laughter but more in tears. I want to make senior caregiving better for my generation…so my daughter will have an easier time than I. I want to open up the “treasure box”of aging and as deserved, make ones elder years meaningful and filled with dignity.

For over 40 years I have been somehow involved in experiencing the constant senior aging dilemmas. I can remember at a very early age going to visit my grandfather in a nursing home. Since it was pretty far away from where we lived, we could only visit a few times a month…a large white house on beautiful grounds….sounds lovely. But, as you entered, nurses cared for the elderly…some unable to speak or hear, or walk or even move…all lining the halls and darkened rooms. Somehow my grandfather “escaped” weekly, putting my mother in an utter panic. My mom would cry the whole way home each time we visited grandpa. My first memories of senior care. The first lesson, keep your loved ones close. Years later, my grandmother was living independently in her own home until my dad found mice in her oven and unattended pots of boiling water on the stove. She soon thereafter; kicking and screaming entered a nursing home close to our house. My dad visited every day, and the rest of the family quite frequently. Although very challenging, we brought her to our home as much as possible for cookouts and holiday events. Transporting someone in a heavy wheel chair back then was not easy especially getting her up a flight up stairs. When we would return back to the “home”, I vividly remember the aching sounds of patients and the horrific smell of urine from the moment you walked in the door. And the “help me” screams coming from some of the rooms. She lived there for over 10 years and died there at age 93. Even then I thought there must be a better way to live and die. Second lesson, listen to what she wants/needs and accomodate. My dad was always a very talented musician; he could play all kinds of instruments from the piano to the violin, guitar, flute and accordion. He would sometimes come sing and play music for my grandmother which she enjoyed so very much. Soon, he realized that all her elderly companions also liked to hear him sing “their old songs” so, he created a small business singing and playing the keyboard at nursing and assisted living homes for seniors in the Detroit area. I would often go with my dad to hear him play. It was amazing to see the faces of such sad lifeless residents light up when the microphone would turn on. Some patients (if they could) would even get up and dance! He must have played over 500 times in some 25 years. I visited a lot of senior facilities during that time and hoped I would never have to live in one, no matter how great the music was. But, the good news is that I have seen a bit of a change over the years…much more attentive caregivers, cleaner environments and a full calendar of activities. Third lesson, keep people busy and active. My mom became ill in 2007, needing home assistance, rehab and eventually in 2009 her life ended in a nursing home. At first, home caregivers initially were great for her, she felt they were attentive, she could confide in them… and they would listen, making this a generally positive experience. My dad hated them because he felt it was an intrusion into their (his) life, and that he could handle her care on his own. Big Mistake. She had a few stints in rehab where she was amongst a mixture of addicts and post surgery patients…not pleasant at all. She always just wanted to “go home”. Was anyone listening???? So, with limited capacity, understanding and tolerance my dad attempted to be her caregiver. That lasted until early one morning when a stranger walked into my dad’s bedroom and said “your wife is laying on the front lawn screaming.” Into the nursing home my mother went, drugged with morphine, an hour of hospice consoled by an exhausted husband, she died a few days later at age 76. I felt so guilty because I lived far away and couldn’t do more, I blamed my father for not doing a “good enough job”, and I felt the situation could have been handled so much better. I just did not know it had gotten so bad. It was one of the worst times of my life. Fourth lesson, get the care, support and help you need, don’t be afraid to ask. In the meantime, I had been hired by the Atria Assisted Living company in Atlanta to handle all their PR and marketing efforts. The perfect client for me, not only was I a marketing professional, but I had first hand knowledge of how senior living facilities were run, and what it was like to be a patient/resident. As part of my research with Atria, I visited a dozen or more assisted living homes in Atlanta giving me a pretty good idea who the competition was and what they each offered. What a huge change had taken place in just a short time. These homes were lovely; beautiful carpet, furnishings, spacious rooms, lots of light, comfortable common area spaces, elaborate dining rooms not to mention the services offered. Hair salons, off campus events, loads of activities and exercise programs, not to mention medical care and wonderful dining experiences in or out of you room. Some were even pet friendly! The fifth lesson, figure out what is important to you and do your homework. Eventually, my own in-laws required some assistance. So, we placed them in an Atria development just minutes from our home. Atria created a beautiful environment, provided constant attention, and activities to keep them busy (or not) from morning until night. I often brought my daughter over in the evening before bedtime in her pajamas to visit her grandparents, along with her small dog. Their eyes would brighten to see her sweet little face enter their room. I even brought her Brownie troop over to make cookies. Their son would come by every day, sometimes even join them for lunch. Other family members and friends would drop by just to say “hello”. Their life was active, safe and secure. Life is not forever, they eventually both died within a few months of each other after 65 years of marriage. Lesson six, you can only do your best. My dad had been living independently for about l0 years after my mom had died, although had a tremendously long list of illnesses. My dad was determined to remain in his home in Michigan during this time period, so therefore all of the siblings got together and made a yearly visiting schedule to check on him. It is one thing to have daily talks on the phone but quite another to have a first hand visit. We all went back and forth from Denver and Dallas and Baltimore and Atlanta to Detroit on a 6-week schedule, as well as during the numerous emergencies. We learned from the past to communicate with each other,make a plan and stay on top of his medical and financial situation. Finally in January of 2011, a severe back injury occurred and he agreed to move to Atlanta where I could care for him. I placed him in a wonderful nursing home/rehab center, l5 minutes from me, and 5 minutes from the hospital. I had him transported by ambulance, and by the time he arrived, his room was decorated with his favorite artwork, plants and flowers. I even brought his favorite juices and snacks and had an open closet built so he could enjoy looking at all of his colorful shirts he so loved. I learned from previous experience that “making him feel at home” would be essential to his positive outlook and recovery. Although he wasn’t at his home in Michigan, he felt at “home”in his special room. He went through extensive rehab and actually starting making great strides of improvement, so much so that by April we were visiting almost every assisted living home in Atlanta for a “look see”. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the wonderful places available and what they all offered…one even had a movie theatre! We came for “lunch” visits and a tour. We enjoyed homemade soups to shrimp scampi and red velvet cake…we ate our way thru Atlanta. My dad loved great food so finding a place right for him involved researching the daily menus. Since my dad was becoming more mobile, I ordered a transport wheel chair. That made my life a whole lot easier since I could easily lift it in and out of the trunk. I visited my dad every day. I brought him the paper, new shirts, and cookies and sometimes one of his favorite home cooked meals. We played scrabble, and bingo and went to all the special concerts, even Elvis night! I took him on all kinds of outings from the Braves game, to the aquarium, to fun places for lunch and to shop. I took pictures of him wherever we went to forward to my brother and sisters, which kept them involved in the process. We talked and talked and talked again. My friends came, the dogs came….we all came and became part of the nursing home family. We got to be close with the amazing caregivers, and administration, and the residents, and especially the dietician and head chef (who would cater to my dad’s every whim). Thank you Bill! But one day he said, “ Am I going to be here for the rest of my life? Is this it?” And within a week we were moving to a beautiful assisted living apartment a few miles away. He had the ultimate “senior” bachelor pad…complete with a 52” TV and surround sound, and poles to help him get up, as well as a lift lounge chair and bed. The perfect pad for an 87-year-old man. He was in his glory, meeting all kinds of new people, sharing stories, and even courting a lovely lady in the building. He was happy, enjoying the attention, loved his apartment, raved about the food, and had no worries because all was being taken care of. No house worries, no being frightened of being alone, no concerns regarding meals or laundry or medicines. And, even though he loved his surroundings, our “outings” were very special to him, so I made a point to make those as frequent as possible. Unfortunately, a falling accident, a bout of pnemonia as well as heart failure took its toll and he passed away in July of 2011. Since my brother and sisters and I were in such great contact we easily put together his final resting plans. Everyone had a job to do, and we created a wonderful tribute to his memory. All of the past do’s and don’ts became quite apparent…all was honorable, peaceful and “right”. All of the previous lessons before me presented themselves so that I could be a better senior caregiver, and know that in the end my dad’s wishes were honored and that he knew he was deeply respected, cared for and loved. Isn’t that what we all want? Lesson seven, no regrets.

BUSINESS PROFILE

Clarice W. Dowdle

 

Title: Founder/COO Seniorcaregivingtoday.com

 

Telephone number: 404-394-6745

 

E-mail address:

Clarice@Seniorcaregivingtoday.com

Cwdowdle@aol.com

 

Linkedin: Clarice W. Dowdle

 

URL:

www.Claricedowdle.com

www.Seniorcaregivingtoday.com

 

Business Address: Atlanta, GA  

 

Specific subjects or issues the expert can knowledgeably discuss:

Senior Caregiving:

Book release: Time for the Talk, The Step Plan for Effective Senior Caregiving Today -Ten Step Plan for Effective Caregiving -Pre-Aging Agreement -Treasure Box of Memories -… issues relating to seniors

Women in Business -Don’t be afraid to try…

Professional achievements:

  • Founder/COO of Seniorcaregivingtoday.com
  • Domestic and International Marketing Consultant
  • Executive Vice-President of Marketing/Public Relations for Margot Townsend Inc.
  • President/CEO of CWD Marketing Services Inc.
  • Senior Account Executive for Hobson Barnes
  • Co-founder & Vice-President/Creative Director of Robinson & Weskel Communications Inc.
  • Assistant Marketing Director for Mayfair in the Grove
  • Assistant Promotion Director WTVJ-CBS Miami
  • Assistant PR and Marketing Director Miami Dolphins and Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Summary of expertise: Recognized as an expert in Senior Caregiving/Women in Business/Senior advocate and author  

Books: Time for the Talk : Then Ten Step Plan for Effective Senior Caregiving Today

Media and Speaking Engagements

  • Shop Channel Japan
  • WSB-TV People to People
  • WebsEdge TV
  • Atlanta Magazine
  • York County Coast Star
  • Interview with tax attorney Houston Lennard
  • Interview with Dr. Celeste Coggin
  • Georgia State University
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • KRLD 1080 Dallas/Ft. Worth,”KRLD News” with Marlee McCormick
  • KAFF 930 Flagstaff, “Flagstaff Mornings” with Charles Hick
  • KCAA 1050  San Bernardino-Riverside, “The Morning Show”
  • WNJC radio Philadelphia, S. Jersey, N. Deleware, “The Eddie Esquire Show”
  • Infinity Publishing Author Spotlight
  • The Epoch Times International Newspaper/Internet edition
  • WPBS radio & SirusXM
  • WIBA News Talk 1310 Madison
  • Bankrate.com
  • Spero News International Internet news site
  • KHVH 830 Honolulu
  • Senior Times of South Central Michigan
  • Nerdwallet.com
  • Frankie Boyer Holostic Show
  • Bill Miller Show
  • Touch of Grey
  • WPBS Atlanta Radio Korea, “Korea Today”
  • Cable Radio Network
  • United Methodist Homes of New Jersey /Internet edition
  • The Paramus Post
  • KEAR 610 San Francisco “For the Record” Marcy Pearce
  • WHK 1420 Cleveland, “The Advocate” with Nick Phillips
  • Living Fully After 40
  • WHN2 1250, “Senior Voice Radio”
  • KLUV Dallas, “Jody Dean and and the Morning Team”
  • KKVI 89.9, “Valder Beeb Show”
  • Atlanta Home Care Partners Inc, newsletter

Professional Affiliations:

Not for profit affiliations with organizations throughout the country, from Board member, to ball chairman, to civic leader president, to fundraiser, to advisor. Two-time Emmy Award winner and American Society on Aging faculty member.    

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