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'Trading Places': Dr. Nancy Snyderman

I left home for college in 1970, always knowing that I would never move back to Fort Wayne, Ind. I visit often and have kept in touch with most of my high school friends. It is the place where I expected my parents to grow old and die. But one thing I hadn't considered was that my parents would outlive all their friends, and with their four adult children scattered across the country, Fort Wayne grew foreign to them.

Their decision to move to Princeton, N.J., where my husband Doug and I are raising our family, was somewhat quick. As the eldest child, a lot of the family coordinating has fallen to me over the years. Both my brother and I are doctors and the inevitable planning for our parents' health care will be our responsibility. Yet having Mom and Dad in my town means that the day-to-day coordination has already begun. I have scouted out the right cardiologist, gynecologist, ophthalmologist, internist. I have thought about the hospitals. I am on staff at the University of Pennsylvania. Is that where they should go if something horrible happens? Or should I rely on my friends who are cardiologists at Columbia University in New York? What can I handle on my own? And when will I need the help of my own expert network?

And no conversation about such sudden proximity can be truthfully had without the recognition of boundaries. Mom and Dad will be less than 10 minutes away from us. I am thrilled by thoughts of family dinners and shared football games. I can hardly wait to have them see Charlie's school performances and wish Rachel well as she heads off to college.  At the same time, our homes have front doors and telephones. They may be the most literal examples of boundaries, but they are metaphors in the larger context. They are meant to be used... both ways.

So, as it has always been in our family, we talk about these things. And by talking, this transition, at this time, may be one of the best gifts ever given to me.

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I hope you will add your story of eldercare to my website. It is up and running.

Louise Morman
Eldercare Learnings

My son-in-law is an acoustics design engineer working for the Navy in Newpott,RI. He and other engineers have designed a system,on paper, that will detect brest cancer at least 90% smaller than the present radiation system.They can be called upon to give a speach on this system at any time at no cost to thos doctors who might be interested.

Louise Morman and I shared a very challenging time together as we cared for our parents during their last year of life. Nobody can prepare you for the experience of caring for and losing your loved ones. The greatest gift is having people in your life who can support you through the process. There are so many questions to ask and decisions to make. Louise and I met at a training program in Santa Barbara in 2002. We discovered that our parents lived very close to each other in Northwest Ohio. In 2004, her father was transported to a hospital in Columbus two blocks from my office. Louise stayed with me for two months while her father recovered from his injuries. At the same time, my father became ill and went into the hospital in Northwest Ohio. Louise watched over my home while I was away. That year, my father and Louise's parents passed away. To this day, we still marvel at the synchronicity of meeting in California and sharing this experience two years later. I will be forever grateful for her support and comfort during that time.

My mother got sick in 1997. She went in a care facility in 1998. She died in 2000. I cleaned out her house and sold it by 2002. I still have not recovered from the monetary and career lost.
I had two sisters who didn't want anything to do with Mom or the
care or the house. Just the money. OK. So I having been dealing with the illness (doctors, care, money, emotions) and my own situations: not being able concentrate on my own career. having to go through all the grandparents, parents and family stuff in family owned for 80 years. I stated a break from my siblings. I just needed a break. BUT I know I did it all to honor my mom, and father, And I had to do it the way I could live with it. Even if I
am still in debt (the inheritance paid for the medical bills I got from all the stress) I am still glad I could do something FOR my mother - my last parent. There is so much to go through - financial, emotional, etc. and if you don't know how to do any of it, it is all the hard. And if you are doing it alone. I had friends who just didn't understand what I was going through. You just don't know it, till you get there. It is tough, but thankful in your heart.

Well these stories have left me thinking that I'm not alone. Watching your parents health decline is a very hard road to walk. In October 2006 we had to place my Dad who was 79 at the time in a nursing home. He needs 24/7 care he has had many small strokes, form that he has lost his balance, lost the control to hold his body functions, doesn't know when he is going to the bathroom. My Mom tried for over 4 years to take care of him on her own, hiding the fact from her childern what was going on. Over the last year and a half my husband and I moved back to Ohio to be near our aging parents. This has been proven to be a good thing. My brothers live in Southern Ohio, and in New York. My sister and I both live in Ohio about a half hour away. The nursing home that we chose for Dad is a half way point between me and my sisters home. However that is not why we chose that home. After taking many tours in the homes in the area and with have a sister-in-law who happens to be a nursing home director in the State of New York we used a lot of inside information from her. Dad's new home is rated 5th in our State, and number 2 in the area that we live in. The adjustment my Dad made in the home was slow, he misses my mom and cries, hates the food and the food is good, but even for the last year he didn't eat my mom's cooking eighter. He has become a very popular resident, and is a social butterfly. He like teasing the Aids and the Nurses. I have a great deal of respect for anyone that works in a home. My Mom is adjusting to living with us, our childern who are 25, and 23 are still at home. We added a bedroom in the basement for our son, and moved our office to the basement. My huband works from home, every other day on his luch hour he loads Mom into the van and drives her over to the home so she can visit with her husband of 57 years. My sister picks her up on her way home and brings her to our home where she lives. Mom loves living with us and has told us many things that we never knew about her life growing up. I charish all the talks we have, and just seeing her everyday. I know that one day they both will no longer be with us, and that breaks my heart. My childern see what family will do for each other and hope one day that they will be there for us too.
Thank you for all of your stories,makes me know that I'm not alone out there.

I knew Dorothy and Elmer Morman and have been inspired by Louise Morman's devotion to her parents. During the time that they were very sick and in need of a lot of care, Louise decided that the best thing for her parents was to be cared for in the home they so loved, in the town they had lived in all of their lives. Although the need for a lot of medical attention was great, Louise did everything in her hands to make sure that they recived such care at home. It was amazing to see how much they thrived and how much better their health became when they came home from the hospital. We had the opportunity to spend time with them before it was time for them to go and it wouldn't have been the same if they were hospitalized.

Dorothy and Elmer lived and died surrounded by love and children that care for their parents, in such a way as Louise and all the other people who have posted do, deserve a lot of praise. Not many people devote their time, resources, make sure their parents live the last days of their lives to the fullest.

I'm still young and my parents are as well, so I don't think about this topic very much. But after reading this post it has made me think of how much is involved in caring for elderly parents and I will do my best to provide the best care for them, as it has been modeled by my dear friend Louise. Thank you!

This is for Virginia from Centrail Valley, CA. I am so sorry that you had to experience such hardship while trying to do the right thing by your family. God bless you!

My friend, Louise Morman, and her story about her parents, Dorothy and Elmer, has inspired me as I've negotiated care for my 93-year old father. Dad has been a widower for a year, has Parkinsonian Syndrome, and short-term memory loss. He is a founding member of the Resurrection Choir at St. Agnes Cathedral on Long Island and sings at nearly all the funeral Masses. Like Louise, my sisters, brothers, committed care givers and I are keeping Dad in the community he's lived in for 46 years. He continues to be loving, valued presence in our lives.

This is Louise Morman from Tarrytown. Thank you so VERY much for posting my story! I am committed to sharing stories of eldercare. I have a big favor. The link to get a DVD of my eldercare story on your site doesn't work because the ")" after the link does not have a space before it---so the computer thinks it is part of the site name. People will not be able to use by clicking on it. I would so appreciate it if you could either delete the ) or put spaces before it. Once again---I commend you for the Trading Places segment!


My 93 year old mother lives 100 miles away from me.

My 93 year old mother lives 100 miles away from me. She moved away from me, I did not move away from her. As far as I can tell, my mother has moved 24 times since she was married in 1933, so it's not that she has lived all her life, or most of it, in the same town or many years in the same house.

In 1941 my mother encouraged my father to leave working in the Pennsylvania coal mines and follow her brothers to Passaic, NJ, to find a better job. They lived in the Passaic-Bergen County area for 40 years. After my father retired, my mother insisted they re-locate back to her hometown of Freeland, PA. Then, after a trip to Port Charlotte, Fl., they moved to an independent living center there. That lasted one year. Then it was on to Venice, FL for one year in a condo, and then the next year to a condo across the street for another year.

When my father became ill in 1986 they moved back to NJ and after his death she returned to the town she grew up in, Freeland, Pennsylvania. She then moved again, to an apartment in Hazleton, PA. When she was about 85 years old she moved to an independent living center in South Jersey for one year, and then came to live near me in Garfield, NJ. That lasted a little over a year until 9/11, when she called friends in PA to find her an apartment there. She is terrified of living in New Jersey because it's too close to NYC .

Never having owned a house to sell, she is living on her social security and Black Lung benefits and some savings. She is a Gold Star Mother and is probably eligible for the Veterans Home in Bergen County (my brother was killed in Viet Nam in 1967), but she will not move back to Bergen County.

She is now getting very forgetful, is limited in her ability to cook her own meals, refuses to have Meals on Wheels, leaves her apartment very seldom because she is afraid of falling down, etc. She has no friends or relatives nearby. No social life at all. She depends on her cleaning lady and two neighbors for shopping. She has no one to take her to the doctor and she won't go with the volunteers who drive the elderly to and from doctor appointments and visits to friends . She does have a monitor which she wears to call for Help in an emergency. She almost lost her Black Lung benefits because she was not able to reply to their letters requesting information from her. I have taken over paying her bills, insurances, rent, etc. long distance.

I took her to see some independent living centers near her and found a lovely place. She has absolutely refused to move to an independent living center near the town she lives in because she is not ready for the HOME. (This from the woman who lived in an independent living center in Florida when she was in her sixties!).

Since my mother has always been the BOSS, I understand her fear of giving up her independence by moving to a facility where other people will make the rules. When I told her how much I liked the facility we looked at she told me if I liked it so much I should move there!

I have tried to make her understand that if something happens to her during the winter months I may not be able to drive to her town in PA because of bad weather, etc. They get a lot of snow there in the winter and there is only on-street parking where she lives. She refuses to understand that I can't come up and take someone's parking space that they have shoveled out. She also refuses to understand that I am now 70 years old and don't like driving two hours alone on Rt. 80.

If my brother were alive I know she would listen to him.

My Grandparents have been married for 71 years. They lived on their own @ a hour away in the country until this December. Now living with their only living child, they still long for their independence. Grandpa is 92 and Grandma is 89+ They plan to return to their home lovingly refered to as "paradise" when Spring comes around. I think we will have a family meeting to discuss that though!

Brian, thank you so much for this story. I am a Fort Wayne native, now in Florida, but much of my family and all of my husband's family are still in Fort Wayne. However, it is Nancy Snyderman that I am asking about. If she is Nancy Snyderman who went to and graduated from Fort Wayne Northside in 1965, I am a classmate of hers and I still have her senior picture! My husband, mother-in-law and I watched this program and found it most interesting. My mother-in-law recognized Dr. Snyderman immediately! How nice to know that they are able to live out their dreams and have such a loving family.

My mother, Selma, is a life long artist in Atlanta Georgia.
She has lived in the family house for 40 years.
My father was Col. in the Marines, then they retired to this house.
Her studio is upstairs, where she teaches painting once a week to a greatful group of lovely ladies. And creates her own amazing works of art.
She still loves to walk the garden and pull the occational weed or trim a bush.
She goes out to lunch or dinner almost every day with friends
or cooks for them in her home.

At 88 years she is doing well, except for her progressing Macular Degeneration and very poor hearing.
Most of her friends have sold the family home and now live in one highend assisted living facility. She does not especially like these places and does not want to give up her home or her studio.
I tend to agree with her.
The hard part seems to be how to help her decide how and when to arrange for more help in her home. She still feels like she is independent and should always feel this way, but it is obvious that she needs more help. At the moment Mom is trying to give up the car keys..not easy.

Of 4 children only her daughter lives in Atlanta.
Any advice, suggestions or help would be wonderful.
I live in New York and my two brothers live in Florida.

Her web sites:

Nancy Snyderman's story amazes me in the sense that there is so much planning and organization involved.

My mother who is 97 lived on her own in New York City until she was 96. She broke her hip running to catch a bus on 14th Street on her way to work as a travel agent.

I had an instant education into eldercare, how to deal with many different medical professionals and institutions from ridiculous to just so-so. At the time she lost her independence, I was also raising two teen-aged grandchildren.

I wish that I and my two sisters had been able to persuade Mother to make plans. She was always so independent and felt we were interfering.

She now is living in a dementia unit in a nursing home in Manhattan. She has lost all interest in anything, hardly speaks and sometimes forgets us all.

I did trade places some time back, but she is now in a place I never want to be

Although my mother is in good health, I am in Florida right now with my 2 children (escaping the brutal winter storm) and hoping my sister will make it from Ft Wayne too. The reason for this trip is more than pleasure, but to review the estate planning my mother has worked so hard on. Fortunately, my mother has been financially proactive in her future planning. However, we have not yet discussed what to do when she needs more assistance and how to best handle this among the three of us. We are going to watch your report tonight and all the other NBC anchors discuss this important topic that is too often overlooked.

My name is Andrew Gibson. My company, Celery, ( developed an email device for seniors, actually modeled after my own mother's experience with computers - she won't use them ; ).

This summer, Mom was treated for cancer and I spent more time with her over the last 7 months than the last 7 years combined. I learned two things, I learned that my 4 siblings and I are going to have to take a much greater role in Mom's life, and, 2) Mom has truly wonderful friends.

Her support group supports each other in almost every way. It's a "posse of widows" who knows more about me and my wife & kids than I do. I love and appreciate them all.

The upside to Mom's cancer scare is that it has reconnected us with her and my kids are appreciating how truly wonderful their grandmother is. If I have a fraction of the friends that my mother has when I am her age, I will have been truly successful and blessed in this life. Thank you for the article, it hit home.

PS: I asked Mom to live with us...she, however, is healthy enough now to continue to live independently and with those magnificent widows... she'll do it as long as she can.

I can relate to your story. I am an executive in New York and my parents were 50 miles east of Ft. Wayne in farm country. I can relate to Blackbeery in one hand and bedpan in the other. As you will see in my story---Valentines Day is tough for me. Here is my story of There's No Place Like Home:
Eldercare Learnings

A reporter for the local weekly newspaper wrote an article about my parents entitled “Beyond the Miraculous.” She said that it was a miracle of love that my parents died within three hours of one another.
Elmer and Dorothy Morman died the same day in their home in Kalida, a rural village in northwest Ohio. They were both 86 years old and had been married 55 years. Going together is definitely how they would have wanted it.
But the real miracles were when Dorothy and Elmer defied all the odds and lived when the doctors had no hope. They provide inspiration to many.
Dorothy and Elmer had gray hair but were healthy and fully active. On the surface they may have appeared to be old people, but they did not behave that way. Elmer was still farming up to fifteen hours a day in season as he always had. Dorothy was a dynamo, a petite bundle of energy. She was a wiz on her computer and loved going out with her lady friends to play cards.
What Happened?
Dorothy had a valve replaced. The surgery went well. (She hadn’t been in a hospital since I had been born.)
Unfortunately she contracted C-Diff ---a very nasty but common infection that causes severe diarrhea and ravages the body.
She collapsed from dehydration and was rushed back to the hospital. Then fast forward to October. Dorothy has been in the hospital for 5 months. She suffered from numerous complications that result from lengthy hospitalization. She couldn’t do anything for herself. She was flat on her back with a feeding tube and a trach. She suffered from delirium. She had various hospital-acquired infections and had become resistant to antibiotics. By autumn, almost all of the doctors were frustrated and had given up hope.

A Hospital at Home
On October 20, 2003 we brought Dorothy home from the hospital straight from a critical care unit. She needed IV medicines and a ventilator.
Together with some top notch medical professionals we did the impossible; we created a hospital in my parents’ home. We combined concepts from the business world with smart medical ideas. We recruited over fifteen nurses and respiratory therapists and called ourselves The Dorothy Team—a combination of talent and love.
By January Mom had turned the corner. The delirium lifted. She started to walk, talk and eat again.
Life was getting back to normal. It wasn’t perfect, but Dorothy was happy and herself again

And then…..
On Valentine’s Day my father was struck by a car while he was standing by the mailbox. He received extremely serious injuries. After two and a half months, he too defied all the odds and came home.
The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy was improving exponentially and Dad was starting to show some improvement also. So we had a birthday party.
The Dorothy and Elmer Team, made the party possible. It was a fabulous celebration of triumph over difficulties.
The theme of the party was “There Is No Place Like Home”—the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy played cards with her friends well after all the others left. Dorothy was back!

The Second Accident
On July 13, 2004 Dorothy was working in the kitchen…tripped….hit the back of her head…had a massive brain bleed and went into a coma. After almost two weeks we took her home to Kalida.
Always Together
On August 10th Elmer unexpectedly died and Dorothy who was in a coma passed away shortly after.
If you don’t believe in a higher being the story of Dorothy and Elmer will change your mind.
My experience has made such an impact on my life that I am committed to sharing eldercare stories. Last year I did the keynote at the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State. (DVD available at My website will be launched in a few weeks.

I have read many of those messages regarding children caring for aging parents. I am a senior citizen, hpoefully in relatively good health. It was brought to my attention that since I was getting older and living alone in Arizona. My dughters "suggested" that I think about living closer to "somebody in the family." I did take their thoughts carefully and thought that it might be a wise thought. So, now, if to do this, Where could I go? One daughter lives in Rochester, NY, a second lives in Boston. The third daughter lives in Las Vegas. That seemed to be the best choice since I had been living in Tucson for more than 30 years and have a problem dealing with cold, moving to Las Vegas was the logical choice. It took a while to find the best choice of a home, but I did move to the Las Vegas area 5 years ago. It was difficult to adjust, but, I think I made the correct choice.

This is a situation that touches 8out of 10 households in the United States, and more information for private and community support is needed. Geriatric Care Managers are a wonderful source of information! Contact The National Association of Geriatric Care Managers to find help in your area. They specialize in helping families that live away from their loved ones.

I too am a caregiver. I have been privileged to care for my Mother and Grandmother until their deaths and now I care for my Dad. 3 generations of loved ones have passed through my hands.
My hands have been called upon to stroke their hair, change their diaper, feed them and hold their hand while they passed away.
My eyes have been called upon to watch them fade away, to see them light up with recognition while they are having a lucid moment and to watch for injuries they could no longer feel.
My ears have been called upon to listen for them falling, to hear them call for a sister or brother long dead, to understand the meaning behind the sometimes garbled words.
My voice has been called upon to speak for my loved ones, to reassure them all is well, to advocate for their care and the care of others, to ease my Mother's painful disease process by naming the side effects, the worse the side effect the uglier the name. My aplogies to the Boadecias, Mergatroids and Beatrices out there.
My heart has been filled to overflowing with love. My Dad sees me as his mother, grandmother, wife, sister and sometimes daughter. How can I be sad when that much love is directed at me? My Dad's jokes fill me with joy and a sense that he is STILL there.
My mind and spirit is filled with gratitude to the many organizations and individuals that have made this journey so rewarding. Life is a journey the end can be cherished with as much love and laughter as the beginning.

I am coordinating care and live with my mother, she is a spry, very smart 84 year old nurse who holds a masters degree in Nursing. She and I depend on each other for companionship, what life holds and at what age, and we share expenses of the house together. This arrangement works well for us and all of the immediate family members live within 5 minutes from each other. We socialize lots and so there are no secrets from one another.

How I wish I had been exposed to something like this when I started my own journey of caring for my own aged parents! I have been blessed to be able to care for both my Father and Mother. We moved them from another state to Indiana. I have taken care of my folks for about 10 years. My Mother didn't want to leave her home, but with the help of the neurologist she became convinced. My Father had Alzheimer's Disease. It was very hard because of working, raising children, no help from family, and slim resources. Also, during this time my husband was helping to care for his Father in another city. He would work during the day and stay with his folks at night. There were times when I didn't think I could handle one more thing, but I did! I didn't want to have any regrets, and I don't. My Father passed away almost 9 years ago, and my Mother passed away in April of 2006. She had stroke after stroke and finally had to go to a nursing home for the last few months of her life. We explored all options with my Mother's care. I even thought about moving her into our home, but we were not wheelchair accessible. My husband didn't want to lose me as I cared for my Mom. He was correct because I would have done anything to care for her, even risk my own health! There are many "helps" out there. I used some of them, but since we were not wealthy, we did a lot ourselves. The family doctor was a huge help! Then came the paperwork after Mom's death! There were times that my husband came home from work and I had everything spread on the floor and was crying! It seemed impossible, but I got through all of it. I learned to just take one step at a time. That when we love those we care for, we can do it!

I think the program you have been airing regarding the caretaking of the elderly is wonderful. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and a sense of "respect" fostered in our country toward the elderly. I also think that those seniors who have a limited family and financial support would also be helpful to address and highlight, while encouraging neighbors to get involved with those senior who don't always have the support or financial means. The "depression" era generation is slowly dwindling and they certainly deserve the respect and honor of those of us from post-depression era generations who have reaped the fruits of their labor.

With nursing home expenses the way they are this will be more common. Our homes, however, are not up to the task. They are designed for an idea storybook life where everything is peachy. In order for a home to cope with the additional workload of such an extended family, many adaptations are needed. All bedrooms need to be an equal size and provided with their own wardrobe rooms. Hallways need to be wider and a small wheelchair elevator is needed. The main living area needs to be divided into separate rooms so that activities in one area do not disturb all others. ADA-compliant bathrooms need to be segregated into separate shower rooms and half baths to avoid conflicting times. The walls and floors need to be filled with sound-proof insulation and thicker ‘exterior-quality’ doors are needed inside the home. And… since all the bedrooms would be ‘used up’ in such a scenario, we also need specifically designed visitors’ bunk bed rooms which will help us offer our homes to storm evacuees. By forgoing formal living and dining areas that aren’t even used any more, we can just about afford a more functional and effective home that is there for our families when we need it.

Sure, a well-designed home can cost a lot but think of what you’d save on nursing home expenses even if it was just for the first year or two of initial care. We ourself may need ADA-compliant features someday due to age or an injury. All the added bedroom capacity and added household privacy would mean that you and another friend or two could get together to share expenses. Our Children are also finding it more and more difficult to move off on their own these days. If they have to stay on with us longer or if they have to return home later in life due to a divorce or the loss of jobs (perhaps even with a family in tow), then such features will have obvious advantages.

Sharing our home with friends and family can be a fun and rewarding experience when the design of the home helps to maintain the privacy we all seek. Homes almost certainly have to be designed from scratch to accommodate all such adaptations but it’s certainly possible if we focus on true functionality and not just aesthetics. Mudroom entryways, garage closets to eliminate clutter, and even specific game, exercise, and craft rooms, are all features that a home occupied by more than one couple might want also. In a day and age of gridlock traffic, I’m even hopeful that such enhanced home designs will allow several professional couples to incorporate enough office/reception/waiting room capacity and shop space into their home so that they can work right from home without the need to travel at all. Surely at least one person would be able to stay home and take care of the chores while even eliminating the need for daycare services.

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