When Maria's parents wanted to plan for her future, they knew it would be best to involve their whole family.

Making Sure a Daughter Will Thrive as Parents Age

Maria | February 9, 2018 | Family Care Client

As many parents do, Maria’s father and stepmother wanted to make sure their daughter with Down syndrome could continue to live safely and independently as they aged. To ensure that the pace was slow and compassionate they worked with their family and her Family Care team over the course of a few years eventually moving Maria from their home to her sister’s a few counties away.

It was August 2012 when Maria’s father first called her Family Care team and they set up a family meeting to discuss possible options for where she might live. Her parents were getting older, and though she had always lived at home, they wanted to plan for the future. The family wanted her to continue to live in a home as she always had, and find ways for her 10 siblings and 5 stepsiblings to be involved.

In the beginning the family met without Maria, knowing that moving out of her parent’s home caused her anxiety. The family thought about options eventually deciding in early 2014 that Maria would move into her sister Chris’ home. To make the transition, she first stayed with her sister for a weekend at a time.

The family also worked with the care team to understand what additional supports and services they would need such as assistance with personal cares, medication management, meal preparation, supervision and transportation. They worked with the care team to incorporate self directed care into her care plan. They talked about what other goals Maria had related to recreational and vocational activities and researched local resources so that Maria would not only have a new place to live, but a new home where she belonged in every way.

Fun But Louder

Now, more than a year and half later, it’s feeling like home. She admits it’s different, but she is happy and doing well. One major difference is living with many more people than she did at her parents. Her sister has six children and all the activity that comes with a family that size. When asked what that’s like, she says she was, “used to being at home with three,” and that “now it’s a little louder.”

But she says it’s fun too. There’s a lot of laughter in the house and it seems that one of her nephews always has a soccer or football game to watch. She also volunteers at a retirement home for nuns, holding their hands and sitting with them when they are sick. Chris says Maria sits with the nuns for hours and has been told she brings them great peace.

Maria is also active with the local ARC group, so that she can connect with others in the area. She had many friends around her parent’s home and it has been a little challenging to make new friends, but being active is helping her to meet more people. She also continues to see her old friends when she participates with her old ARC group and with Special Olympics, which Maria has participated in a number of times.

She also works at a local store two days a week stacking shelves and setting up displays. Maria’s care team began to explore vocational opportunities for her in the winter of 2014 and she completed a six-week work trial and had job coaching in 2015 as part of her Family Care plan. Following the work trial, the two supervisors moved to a store close to Chris’ house and offered Maria a job there. Having the store so close is a bonus, but the great part is having a job working with people who really understand Maria, Chris says.

The store has been supportive of offering Maria shifts during the weeks so her weekends are free. She now often visits her brothers, sisters, and parents then, which is something the family discussed before she moved. Seeing her siblings more often now is another advantage of the move. They often get together for family functions, wedding vacations, birthdays, and other celebrations.

Reflecting back and thinking about it for others who may be going through the same process, Chris says, “It can be successful.”

With the right support, and a long-term outlook, today, Maria has been able to continue to focus on the things she loves most: her job, her family and friends, and the place she calls home.