Whitfield: Resident offers tips to care for elderly

Posted 6/24/22

This letter is in response to the Sun City resident Ms. Kathleen Coombs (“Protecting the age overlay,” Sun City Independent, June 15, 2022) who said there are “so many uncaring people living in Sun City.”

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Whitfield: Resident offers tips to care for elderly


This letter is in response to the Sun City resident Ms. Kathleen Coombs (“Protecting the age overlay,” Sun City Independent, June 15, 2022) who said there are “so many uncaring people living in Sun City.”

I will present my views only from limited information derived from the newspaper detailing her living situation with her granddaughter and great grandson.  Both violate the CC&Rs as described in documents prior to her purchase. Without making judgments or assigning blame, my first thought was both her sister and her knew their mother was 93 when she purchased her home in 2019. With her mother’s advancing age, didn’t she and her sister have any other plans should one or both have their own health issues? Did they expect she would die before they would? Their mother is now 96 with declining health of her own, but still alive.

These are challenges most people with aging parents/siblings/children have in our society, and it really presents problems when people do not have plans in place to care for individuals with health issues.

Since my late husband was 22 years older than I was, I returned to college at 40, first majoring in social work, but then switched to nursing because I found people have both medical and social needs when they age. It seemed like a perfect combination, and it served me well when I dealt with my mother’s dementia and then my husband’s, as well as working in nursing homes, hospitals and home health agencies. It was also beneficial when I worked as a case manager for Arizona at the Department of Economic Security in Child Protective Services. Caring for someone else is extremely difficult, and I had the education to help me, and I made many, many mistakes. To entrust a young person younger than 19 with a 5-year-old son and lacking the professional training to care for someone 96 years old is almost elder abuse. Also, it is exploiting the use of children as caregivers.

Please do not think I do not empathize with your situation, but my professional suggestion would be to contact the Area on Aging in Phoenix for a list of social services that could provide you the tools to navigate your situation. Another suggestion would be to sell your home (it is a sellers’ market), sell your mother’s home and all of you could live under one roof. Another suggestion would be to put your mother in a 10-bed private home with professional care so the cost would be lower. That is what we siblings did with our mother when she needed more supervision. I realize the cost is a factor if one does not have long-term care insurance, but with the sale of her home, Arizona’s ALTCS insurance can help with combined expenses. It is worth checking into those resources. I am not up-to-date on all agencies since I have been a widow for five years, but as I age and will need services I have already made arrangements.

Again, you are not alone, Ms. Coombs, in your situation. According to SCHOA, they have not been given a request by you for a variance, but you and everyone else who bought a home in Sun City knew what the conditions were before purchasing and you must abide by those conditions. I am sure everyone is sorry to hear about your mother’s health issues, but your family needs to get some professional help and there are plenty of resources at your disposal, if you choose to use them. Waiting for your mother to die seems like a total waste of good years you could share with her if you and your sister could resolve your family problem.

This is not fair to other residents of Sun City who are following their obligations to our founding father Del Webb. I hope your family can arrive at a compromise.  

Ferris Sydney Whitfield

Sun City


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