Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Caring for Your Parents

Chapter 3: Priscilla and Happy [4:44]

"A one-person retirement home."

Happy still lives at home, thanks to daughter Priscilla's skill at organizing full-time care. Quality is high; so are costs.

PBS

Pledge to your local PBS station to support websites like this.

Purchase Video
Transcript
Credits

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Additional funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Harrah's Fooundation

Major funding is provided by The Harrah's Foundation.

Watch Other Videos

A Conversation About Caring

A Conversation About Caring
Watch a 30-minute discussion with care experts, hosted by medical correspondent Dr. Art Ulene,

Video Podcast

Vodcast interviews with caregiving experts Hugh Deleheney and Elinor Ginzler
Subscribe to the Vodcast.

WGBH Lab

WGBH Lab
Emerging filmmakers tell their caregiving stories at the WGBH Lab
Watch their films.

 

 

 

Transcript 

Chapter 3: Priscilla & Happy "A one-person retirement home."

NARRATOR:  

WHEN SHE WAS MARRIED...HER HUSBAND GAVE HER THE NICKNAME "HAPPY".  IT STUCK.

IT'S BEEN A FULL LIFE...FOUR DAUGHTERS...AND LATER A BOY... 

...DECADES OF ADVENTURES... 

AND NOW...HAPPY'S FINAL CHAPTER... 

STILL AT HOME...DOING THE THINGS SHE LOVES... 

DAUGHTER PRISCILLA:

Now what am I doing this afternoon?  Am I making up a whole lot of green for you?  

HAPPY:  

Green, and (inaudible)...trees. 

PRISCILLA:  

Yep. 

NARRATOR:

HAPPY IS 90.  HER DAUGHTER PRISCILLA IS 62.

PRISCILLA:

She has absolutely no disease. She's disease free. She's simply in her 91st year.  

And I think things are wearing down and wearing out.  

HAPPY:  

What, dear? 

PRISCILLA:  

You've got it going. 

CASE MANAGER:

Water to drink. 

PRISCILLA:  

Yes, we're going to keep this water over on this side, okay?  You know how we are about dipping our brushes in our coffee cups.

HAPPY:  

I know, too.

PRISCILLA:  

It became really clear as her eye sight began to diminish, that painting was really the happiest time of her life.  

HAPPY:  

What's that? 

PRISCILLA:  

That's you brush. 

HAPPY:  

The color is green? 

PRISCILLA:  

The color is green, yeah. 

HAPPY:  

Wonderful, dear. 

PRISCILLA:  

We went through a lot of hunting around for places for her to live. And when all was said and done she said, "I want to stay home". 

NARRATOR:

CARING FOR HAPPY TAKES UP A LOT OF SPACE IN PRISCILLA'S LIFE... 

PRISCILLA:  

There are probably three or four trips a day. I try to come over in the morning and see how she is. I'll come back early afternoon and then come back at about six and paint. I try to always have my dinner at home because I need that time to catch up with my phone calls. So I have to put time aside for myself. 

NARRATOR:

PRISCILLA ALSO RUNS HER OWN COMPANY...THE FAMILY HAS ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR THIS LIFESTYLE. SEVEN AIDES ATTEND TO HAPPY AROUND-THE-CLOCK. IT COSTS ABOUT $250 THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR... 

PRISCILLA:  

I had no idea what it would be like running, really, a one person retirement home.  

This meeting is a good idea because changes are occurring... 

You know, it really is just like an organizational chart in, you know, a major corporation.  

Dr. MURPHY:

...Get her calories, get her protein... 

PRISCILLA:  

There's a physician on top.  And below the physician is a nurse practitioner that comes once a week and checks Mother's vitals and that sort of thing.

NURSE PRACTITIONER:

...now skin integrity is, I think, another issue that we've been... 

PRISCILLA:  

And then there's a case manager who reports directly to the nurse practitioner.  

CASE MANAGER:  

Her skin is very, very fragile. 

PRISCILLA:  

And then there are the case workers that are really--they're the worker bees, and they do the nighttime shifts, the daytime shifts and that kind of thing.

And Susan, no shower while she has this cut? 

SUSAN (NURSE PRACTITIONER):

I'd rather not.  

DR. MURPHY:

The data show, that the single most important variable to never spending any time in a nursing home is having a daughter.  And that is not a sexist comment, I want to make that clear.  It's based on the data and having a daughter is the most powerful predictor of not spending time in a nursing home.

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

Lean, that's it, up... 

PRISCILLA:  

The physical therapy, as much as she tries to reject it has been enormously important to her mobility, and her strength. 

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

Side step to your left.  Okay, try to take a big step.

PRISCILLA:  

It's so funny because I told him in the beginning when she was just starting this, "Mother, if she ever wished anything, she wished that she'd been a dancer." 

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

That's it.  That's it.

HAPPY 

I'm so glad I'm doing this. 

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

Nice job, you are doing great.  And one more.

HAPPY:  

I really didn't feel like it but I'm glad I'm doing it. 

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

How are you feeling?  How are you feeling, Happy?

HAPPY:  

I'm ready for a good long nap. 

PHYSICAL THERAPIST:

Good long nap, okay.