Making an Impact – Care Planning
In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.
Harry, a successful salesman, had a wonderful family–two grown boys with families of their own and a happy, healthy wife. His professional success came from his personable demeanor. He was friendly, approachable and an all-around great guy. After years with his employer, his supervisor noticed significant changes in his personality. Harry would suddenly become agitated, angry and a bit confused. After a trip to the doctor, Harry was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Harry, his family and his employer decided it was time for him to retire.
Suddenly, he had nothing to do. He spent day after day sitting at home doing nothing. He forgot to eat while his wife Sarah tried to maintain the part time job she loved.His family grew more and more concerned as the weeks passed. His son Josh had heard about senior care planning at JFS and decided to make an appointment.
Harry was very willing to participate. He, along with his wife and sons, met with the care planner, a registered nurse with many years of experience. Harry listened intently but retained very little from the meeting.
After a review of the challenges the family and Harry faced, the care planner identified three major issues: how to keep Harry engaged; how to pay for assistance, which was likely to be beyond their means; and how to deal with the emotional impact on the family.
First, the care planner recommended increased engagement and social interaction for Harry. She suggested three days each week at the Sholom Adult Day Program. This would also allow his wife to continue to work. Everyone agreed to this recommendation.
The care planner then told the family about several Veteran’s financial support programs that Harry was eligible for: a pension and an allowance for day care. The family was stunned. They had no idea these benefits were available. The care planner helped them complete all the necessary paperwork.
This one-time session had a significant impact on everyone. It gave them a sense of control and a plan about what to do for Harry and themselves. The care planner also taught them about the disease progression and referred Harry’s wife to a caregiver support group.
The family left the meeting equipped with a written care plan and the information they needed to help Harry cope with this very difficult disease. Alzheimer’s is progressive, but for now, they had a plan. The care planner called from time to time to check on their progress and assure them that there is help as they make this journey.