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Central California Life Magazine

Finding Strength in Times of Struggle: Fresno-Area Resident Creates A Senior Blessing

Feb 10, 2017 01:10PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Cathy Jason (center) with her mother, her daughter and her daughter's fiancé

Aging is inevitable. Though it's not something that's always on our mind. Even more, it's not always something that we think our parents will do. This process has varying levels of difficulty, and for Cathy Jason, a Fresno, CA resident, that responsibility came to her much sooner than expected. 

Cathy never anticipated that she would be caring for not only her mother, but for both parents. However, she was able to take this time in her life where she experienced plenty of self doubt, stress, and confusion and turned it into something powerful. She recently created an elder care placement company, A Senior Blessing, to help others experiencing that same confusion and being overwhelmed. 

How did all of this begin? We were able to get in touch with Cathy to hear about her inspiring story of perseverance, patience, and kindness. Her passion and empathy shines through it all, a bright light on a potentially upsetting situation. And of course, her sweet dog (and acting therapist!) Taylor. 

It all began with her mother. She was the first to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and there was a lot of denial surrounding the initial diagnosis. 

Her father in those early stages showed extreme stubbornness, refusing any in-home care, as well as denying his wife's diagnosis. It wasn't diagnosed at the time, but he was experiencing early signs of Dementia. 

It became very clear that Cathy's mother needed to leave his care and enter a home where she could receive full time care, for she was dealing with other health issues in addition to Alzheimer's. 

Cathy's mother was 90 and her father was 93 at the time.

After flurries of constant searching, the pressure of dealing with a full-time job, and raising a teenager (the youngest of 4), the process of finding the perfect place for her mother to go was overwhelming. Luckily, she was able to find Sunrise Assisted Living Inc. in Fresno where she felt comfortable leaving her mother. 

According to Cathy, "She blossomed with their care, regular medication, sleeping, showers, and healthy meals and with friendly caregivers and stimulating nurturing environment."

During her time there, Cathy's mother greatly improved in demeanor. However, she was still struggling and, according to Cathy, "She still had Alzheimer’s and the cognize of about a 5-year-old."

After her time at Sunrise Assisted Living Inc., Cathy's mother was no longer needing the high level of care. She had rebounded to her prior self of 4 years before and could be back home with in home care. Her father was still unwilling to take in any in-home nurses, and her mother was still requiring full time care, so that just wasn't an option for her. 

Fortunately, Cathy's husband offered to have her live with them. Their 4th and final child would be graduating high school soon, and it just seemed like a viable option. He suggested, to Cathy's surprise, having her leave her job and spend her time caring for her mother instead. 

His kindness struck Cathy, and it was something that she never thought she would be able to do, or even consider. Still feeling overwhelmed by the prospect, and still in her full-time job, Cathy had her doubts. However, her mother eventually reached out to her, asking if she could come live with her. In this moment, Cathy's heart broke. It was reminiscent of a child asking for a home. 

Cathy decided then to take a step back, "It was the perfect storm. As I stopped and I thought about my life, where did I want to really be? What did I want to do for the next 10 years? I prayed about the options: stay in my current position, bring mom home or send her to another home? Then my heart and outlook began to change. It all made sense. I wanted to bring mom home. I was very excited to take on this new responsibility."

After her shift in perspective, Cathy resigned from her job, and her mother moved in with her and her family. Some days were tougher than others, but it's something that Cathy and her husband have never regretted. Every night, Cathy's mother made sure to thank her taking care of her, and it melted Cathy's heart every time. 

Eventually Cathy and her husband, a long story short, was able to find an assisted living space for them together with the help of an eldercare placement company. Now her mom and dad are 97 and 94, have been married 75 years, and are back together again where they belong.
Inspired by her experience, Cathy decided that she wanted to help others in her position. So many people are thrown into suddenly needing to find care for their family members, and it can all be incredibly overwhelming, as well as expensive. Cathy saw a gap in the system and wanted to make sure that she filled it as best she could.

It was there that the idea for her newly-started business, A Senior Blessing, came to fruition. Cathy's goal is to provide those who are in a position that she was in years ago comprehensive guidance to help them choose the appropriate care. 

Cathy wants people to know that there are so many options out there, and it doesn't need to be overwhelming. Her business provides consulting services as an elder care placement company. This encompasses a wide variety of services, from providing information about support groups, assisted living homes, Memory Care Communities, In-Home Care and Senior Day care options.

Cathy wants to emphasize, "It doesn't have to be so hard!" 

This work is so important and the Fresno area is lucky to have someone like Cathy within the community helping our elders. "There are many resources and much that can be done to support families in this difficult transition. A step in the direction of honoring our elder population can be as simple as holding the door open for senior and having empathy and compassion when they move a bit slower than us," states Cathy. "To look them in the eyes and say hello. We are all on our own path and experiencing our own hardships they are just a bit farther along this life that we are, providing patience respect and understanding is a small step in the right direction.

"My mom thanks me often, as I mentioned before. I think I am the one who needs to say thank you."

Thank you for all of your inspiring and selfless work, Cathy! 

To learn more about Cathy and her inspiring story, as well as A Senior Blessing, please visit her website