Sally and her husband, Joe, both aged 75, had been an active, social couple. Avid tennis players, skiers, hikers and golfers, they had spent their early retirement years on the go. Joe had been a successful businessman while Sally devoted time to community volunteer efforts. They traveled extensively, and their home showcased artwork and souvenirs from their worldwide travels. As they had never been blessed with children, Joe’s brother and family, Sally’s distant cousin, and the couple’s close friends took the place of an extended family. When Joe suffered a fatal heart attack on the golf course one sunny afternoon Sally was left widowed, feeling very alone and unprepared for this crisis and what lay ahead.
At the time of Joe’s death Sally was struggling to maintain her active lifestyle as she battled complications from diabetes. She was finding it more difficult to manage her self-care independently. Ambulation, dressing, showering, meal preparation, marketing and driving had become increasingly more difficult as her eyesight and physical status deteriorated. After Joe’s death the family housekeeper took on the additional role as Sally’s personal assistant, including the responsibilities of managing the household as well as Sally’s medical appointments and medications. The home was in chaos, which triggered an emergency call to CareManagers Inc. for assistance from the couple’s close friend, an elder care attorney.
Sally and Joe had made minimal plans for their future. With Joe’s sudden death it became apparent that professional consults and interventions were needed. Our CMI care management team was able to provide an in-depth assessment and evaluation of Sally’s current level of functioning, including her medical status, social issues and living environment. Sally was determined to remain in her lovely home as long as possible and by engaging CMI our team could support and ensure this goal.
By providing links to varied professionals we were able to assist in maintaining the least restrictive environment possible for Sally. A referral to a home safety modification company provided the necessary adaptations to the home such as grab bars and shower chairs in the bathroom and widened doorways throughout the home to accommodate a wheelchair. A licensed home care agency was engaged so that a certified home health aide could be identified to assist Sally in her personal care needs, medication management, nurse oversight, companionship and supervision. Thankfully Joe had purchased Long Term Care Insurance that covered some of the costs of the home health aide.
Part of the planning for Sally’s future included the imperative decisions around Advance Directives – Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and a Living Will. Her elder care attorney would prepare these necessary legal documents as well as assist in long term planning based on the finances. With the care manager’s guidance, Sally was able to have the difficult discussion about her wishes.
More importantly, the CMI team continues to provide Sally with ongoing support through this very difficult life transition while closely monitoring her situation. When things are going well – when the elder is managing on his or her own, with little help – this is the time when it is beneficial for the individual or the family to plan for the future, to know what resources are available and how to access them, and to know what options are available rather than scrambling at the time of a crisis. This was not the case for Sally and for her family and so it was this crisis that became the solution.