Dee Yoder and Shannon Fischer

Communication encourages peace, gratitude in senior families

Parents always look out for their children and help make decisions that are in their best interest. At some point, though, the tables are turned, and adult children have a responsibility to look out for their aging parents.

Adult children can play a substantial role as parents and older friends navigate senior living options. Although some children are fortunate to live right around the corner from their parents, in many cases – especially here in Southwest Florida – adult children often live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. That’s why choosing the right senior living community is so important; the staff members there bridge the distance gap with frequent communication and serve as the eyes and ears on the ground.

Shannon Fischer, who lives in Utah, has been navigating senior living alongside her mother, Dee Yoder. Four years ago, Yoder moved into independent living at Gulf Coast Village, Cape Coral’s premier life plan community. However, shortly after the move, Yoder began to present signs of memory loss. Debra Clark, independent living resident services manager at Gulf Coast Village, monitored Yoder’s behavior and self-care routines to assess the level of her cognitive decline, and collaborated with Fischer and her brother, Michael Yoder of Indiana, to ensure that independent living was still the best fit. In late 2023, Gulf Coast Village determined Yoder needed more attentive care and recommended she transfer to Palmview, Gulf Coast Village’s assisted living and memory support building.

“Debra Clark was always very kind and thoughtful with her correspondence, which couldn’t have been easy,” said Fischer. “I truly feel that she was very aware of our mom’s wellbeing, while still understanding our goal to keep her independent.”

Worldwide, 55 million people live with dementia. Memory support communities like Palmview are built to help those individuals through daily housekeeping services, compassionate and skilled care, state-of-the art programs and technologies, and licensed nursing staff on site 24/7.

The transition from living independently to assisted living can be difficult to process. Many older adults desire independence and control, and fear that assisted living will strip them of that. However, that is often not the case. Independent living provides healthy seniors with an environment where they can socialize, utilize community amenities and maintain their independence. A setting like Palmview is designed to provide seniors with assisted independence in a controlled, safe and familiar environment. Residents can receive help with their daily routines, but can still be independent within their private residences.

To make Yoder’s transition as smooth as possible, Gulf Coast Village coordinated a moving company to arrive at Yoder’s apartment, pack up her belongings and transport them next door to Palmview. When unpacking, movers designed Yoder’s new apartment to resemble the residence she had grown to remember while living independently. Recognizable images, floorplans and decor can encourage positive memories for seniors with dementia.

“My mom’s quality of life has improved so much since being in Palmview,” said Fischer. “The Palmview team was able to explain the reasoning behind her behaviors and has also been able to give my family resources to help support our wellbeing as we navigate our mother’s condition.”

A senior’s dementia diagnosis can have profound impacts on their adult children. Dementia grief is common as children cope with psychological changes they are witnessing. Gulf Coast Village hosts a monthly support group in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association for families anywhere who are experiencing cognitive decline with their loved ones.

“Throughout this whole process, my feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness have changed to those of peace, comfort and gratitude,” said Fischer. “No matter what the conversations are like with my mom, she always ends the call by telling me how safe and happy she is.”

To learn more about Palmview at Gulf Coast Village, visit