Love of family is a core value that Caroline learned at a very young age, beginning with the summer she spent with her beloved grandparents, Coco and Pop, at their home in Prattville, Alabama. She dreaded the end of summer because it meant leaving her grandparents.
When Coco and Pop moved in with Caroline’s family, it set into motion a series of events that have culminated with the creation of Preparing for Care. “When you make the decision to bring your parents into your home, you have made a commitment to provide them a home with dignity and grace,” Caroline remembers her mother telling her.
The example that Caroline’s parents set for her has resonated through her entire life. Pop worked in her parent’s steel business, and Coco was very active in volunteer work with the Catholic Church. Pop taught Caroline how to ride a bike and tie her shoes, and every Saturday he would take Caroline and her sister Barbara to the barn to ride their horses.
Caring for family with dignity, and keeping your commitment is something that has been modeled by all three generations. When Coco had a stroke and had to go into a nursing home, Caroline watched Pop go visit her every day, and sit by her side for hours. Each afternoon after school, both Caroline and her sister went to visit Coco as well.
Her parents fulfilled these commitments out of love and respect, not merely a sense of obligation; they each understood this was what “family” was all about. Family was there when they were needed.
After Coco passed away, Caroline began to take on some of the care-giving responsibilities for Pop. She learned the value of maintaining social connections; she saw how damaging isolation could be for seniors, as Pop mourned the death of his wife of so many years, and then developed colon cancer himself.
Caroline has watched with dismay the change in culture in this country, as geographical mobility has made it difficult for the different generations to build the types of bonds she grew up with. She understands firsthand how valuable the memories and experiences of her childhood are.
Because of this, she is able to transcend generational barriers, and is able to build relationships with not just her senior clients, but with their children and grandchildren. She is able to relate to each of the generations because she listens and communicates with respect and warmth. She finds it an honor especially to be with seniors.
It’s not surprising that Caroline also learned to love animals at a young age as well. She grew up with dogs, cats, and horses. One of her favorite hobbies was showing quarter horses. Her mother, Martha, was the President of the Birmingham Humane Society, and both Caroline and her sister grew up watching her work to help save the homeless pets of Birmingham. Fundraising, volunteering, and spending time working with and saving animals were a big part of their lives.
On more than one occasion, they returned from family trips and outings with an extra passenger. If her parents saw a lost or hurt animal beside the road, her mother would point the animal out, her father would pull over the car, and they would bring the animal into the car and take it to safety.
It doesn’t snow often in Birmingham, Alabama, so when it does it is memorable especially if it’s Christmas Eve. Caroline will never forget the snowy Christmas Eve when she and her family were out in the car. They came upon a mother dog that had been hit and killed by a car. A small black puppy was laying by his mother’s side, waiting for her to wake up and take care up him. Her father didn’t hesitate for a moment. He stopped the car, and the puppy was quickly named “Noel” and became a family pet.
Compassion and understanding has clearly been part of Caroline’s family for many generations. It surprised no one when it became apparent that Caroline’s true calling in life was to advocate those who do not have a voice to speak for themselves: seniors and animals. Her passion shows when she speaks up for them; she becomes their voice, to ensure their safely, and that they are treated properly, with love, dignity, and respect.
It is rare to find such a powerful advocate. Her twenty years of experience in Marketing and Executive Sales for Fortune 100 companies such as American Express and Diner’s Club have provided her with powerful tools for communication.
Her award winning methodologies which catapulted her to the top in the financial service and hospitality industries for (American Express) and Diner’s Club International are now leveraged to build strategic relationships between health care providers, extended care facilities, and families to benefit seniors.
The skills that won Caroline two Presidential Service Awards, and numerous MVP, Best Marketing, and Star Performer Awards, and sent her to exotic places like Hawaii and St. John’s Island are now focused on creating partnerships to help those who cannot help themselves.
Despite the honors and accolades she earned in Corporate America, she considers her greatest achievements being named Caregiver of the Year in Anderson County and Senior Professional of the Year.
Caroline feels like this path has been laid out for her by God; her entire life experience has come together so that she can help guide other families on the path she walked with her parents through their twilight years, and that her parents walked with theirs.
She created Preparing for Care to fill this role that is notably absent. Far too often, the topic of aging is the metaphorical “elephant in the room”. Everyone knows it exists in their lives, but no one wants to talk about it.
The end result is that planning is left undone. Instead of having an orderly transition from one residence to another, a panic sets in when a senior falls and breaks a hip or becomes ill and needs specialized care. Because no plans have been made, in many cases choices are limited. When no arrangements have been made for their pets, their much loved cats and dogs may end up being euthanized for space in an overcrowded animal shelters.
Caroline strongly believes education and planning can bestow the ability to make informed choices about how a senior spends their declining years.
Her empathetic and compassionate communications style allows her to break through generational barriers and years of dysfunctional family dynamics, and to bring adult children and their parents into a conversation that ultimately benefits the entire family.
Caroline’s ability to forge strategic partnerships with health care providers and the knowledge of the process that can only come from experience opens many doors that neither seniors nor their adult children even knew existed.
Her calm objectivity enables her to calm down the most emotionally charged crisis, and guide the family through the decision making process, providing them with the resources they need.
Growing old is an inevitable part of life. If you are a senior, Caroline and Preparing for Care can be a powerful advocate for you, making sure that your dignity, independence, and quality of life are respected.
If you have an aging parent, Caroline and Preparing for Care can help you navigate through a minefield of choices, and balance the needs of the aging parent and the adult children.
Instead of allowing the tolls of aging to force painful and difficult decisions upon your family, allow her experience and skills to help you lay in place the framework so that the final years of the senior’s life can be spent with dignity and respect, enjoying the company of their family, and knowing that their future is planned.
If you are a caregiver, community organization, church, or health care provider, Caroline Bell can be a powerful resource for your clients.
If you are a businessperson or a human resources professional concerned about the price that caring for a senior parent is exacting on your workforce, consider a strategic partnership with Caroline Bell and Preparing for Care, allowing them to augment your existing Employee Assistance Program with senior care guidance. Give your employees the peace of mind that will help them to be more productive, and will show them you care.
Regardless of your role, Caroline Scranton Bell’s total life experience makes Preparing for Care uniquely qualified to help ensure that the seniors and family members in your life, workplace, and community can move through the twilight years smoothly. Let her help weave memories of gold as you move through their Golden Years together.