Making an Impact: Safe Independent Living Requires Multiple Touch Points

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.

“I have the honor of providing care planning and coordination for Nancy, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor,” said JFS Senior Services Supervisor Bonnie Jaffe, RN. “She is able to remain in her home with the help of aides who are with her four hours each day, preparing meals, providing bathing assistance and helping her complete daily exercises.

Just as the pandemic began last year, she experienced shortness of breath and underwent an aortic valve replacement. She recovered at a transitional care unit and was able to return home with the continued help of aides.

Her condition steadily improved, and she set a goal for herself of walking longer distances without becoming short of breath. Bonnie assisted Nancy by setting up her medications in pill boxes. But with the dangers of the COVID virus, they decided it would be safest to have the pharmacy set up daily pill packs and deliver them to her home. Bonnie spoke with her aides and was very confident that she was taking her medication correctly every day.

As the pandemic dragged on into the fall, Bonnie received a call from one of her aides that Nancy was extremely short of breath. Bonnie spoke to Nancy, and it was very apparent she was in distress and needed to be treated in an emergency room.

Hospital staff quickly discovered that she was experiencing congestive heart failure. Her cardiologist had ordered an additional 20 milligrams of her diuretic, or water pill, 10 days prior, but the pharmacy had failed to fill this medication. A pacemaker was implanted, and Nancy spent almost two weeks in the hospital. Her recovery progressed, and she was sent home where she lives safely with daily visits from personal aides.

When she was discharged from the hospital following her most recent surgery, she was taking a different diuretic and was told to weigh herself daily. If her weight exceeded 140 pounds, she was to take an extra pill from a separate bottle. The doctor had her other daily medications put into morning and evening pill packs.

Bonnie was finally able to see Nancy in person in May. She discovered Nancy was not following the directions on her medication bottle correctly. She used the pill packs and took the supplemental diuretic without weighing herself each day. Fortunately, the mistake did not compromise her health. They discussed and corrected the problem.