There is an old saying, “Home is where your heart is”. As we age, the idea of staying home becomes more and more important to us. I believe in this saying very strongly. However, I also believe that the physical location of ‘home’ may need to change as our needs change.

While I was growing up, my younger sister and I lived with, and cared for, our mother, who was a quadriplegic. Quadriplegic means she was paralyzed from the neck down. She could not walk, she could not use her arms, and by the end of her life, she could barely move her lips. We took care of her from the time we were in grade school, until we went away to college. She got sick when I was in kindergarten and became confined to a wheel chair by the time I was in second grade. Our father had died, many years before. Caring for an individual who is a quadriplegic is not easy for an adult, let alone two young children. She was our mother and we loved her. She, despite her many physical challenges, never lost her mental capabilities, and as well as she could, she took care of us.

During this time, we learned how to call the police when she fell to the floor, give her medication, take care of her personal hygiene needs, help her in the bathroom, bathe her, feed her, change her bed, cook our meals, wash our clothes, etc. We grew up too quickly. The lessons I learned were many. One important lesson was, as long as we were together, we were home. Another lesson was, I need to plan my life so that no matter what happens I can control my destiny.

Now as my daughter goes off to college to begin her life, as wonderful as my mother was, I never want my daughter to have to care for me as I cared for my mother. I want to be able to control the process of my later years by living my life independently as long as I can. Then, if I lose my capabilities, I want to be in a place where the people around me can help with my personal and medical needs. There are many senior living environments and I want to choose the one that I go to.

You may ask, “How will I be able to make this choice when the time comes?” The answer is simple…do it before the time comes. I have been preparing for this time of my life for many years. My mother had no money to provide for her or us. We lived on welfare and on the generosity of the people of the City of New York, to provide our home, our food, and our health care. I never want to be in that situation again. So I have saved my money and I purchased long term care insurance almost a dozen years ago.

I made the purchase so that come what may, I could pay for the care that I needed. Next, I live in a beautiful home. It will be paid for in just a few years. I know, years before I need to, I will sell my beautiful home and I will move to a senior living environment. (My daughter believes I am ready right now, but that is another story to tell.) Why? The answer is easy. I want to choose where I live and the quality of the care that I receive. If I don’t make the choice before it is needed, my daughter, or some other well meaning individual will make the choice for me…most likely in a crisis. My experiences in life have taught me, rarely does one make the best choice in a crisis. Finally, I know that if my daughter visits me in her childhood home, or a senior independent living environment, home is where we are together. It is also where I am safe. She will not have to call me every day, in fear that I have fallen in the shower, and I am unable to call for help. It all goes back to CONTOL.

CONTROL is a very important word in my life. I want to control all of the stages of my life, the best I can. I urge all of you to consider your choices. Make your choices early, before the crisis happens. The bricks and mortar that you cling to is not home, if it is a dangerous place for you to live. Change your destiny. Make your choices early, so you too can control, and enjoy, your golden years.

Do you have a story to share from your own life experience? I would love to hear it. Just send me an email:

For more information about making the correct life choices at all of the stages in your life, contact Ilene McCauley. Ilene or 480-296-2036.