Success Stories

Going Home Again: Moving home after a long stay in a nursing home
An Elder Law Attorney: Care manager and attorney team together to provide appropriate care
An Elder Living Alone: From housing to cancer care, and everything in between
A Daughter's Dilemma: Moving your parents closer
Dealing with Dementia: Finding the best solution for a couple with different needs
A Physician's Concern: When long-distance caregiving proves to be tenuous

Going Home Again

Jack Perkins is a feisty, independent-minded and solitary 85-year-old man, who after a fall and many complications, had been living in various area nursing homes for over seven years. One day he decided he wanted to go back home.

Problem: Many nursing home residents would like to go home, but few have both the financial and physical ability to actually make that return journey. A widower with no children, he felt a longing for his house, his neighbors, and the street where he lived. And, remarkably, he still owned the home, even though it had been standing empty all those years. Jack’s desire became focused after he had resumed paying his bills himself after an argument with his bill payer, and realized what it was costing him to live in a nursing home.

Although he was determined, no one really believed that it would be possible for Jack, after being in a nursing home for so long, to be able to return to the community. And Jack had no concept of how logistically difficult it would be to accomplish his wish. He kept saying that all he needed was a telephone and a flashlight, even though he was wheelchair-bound, and his house had nine steps up from the street to the front door, not to mention the other 2 stories above that.

Solution: The chaplain at the nursing home had made a strong connection with Jack, and wanted him to succeed, and referred him to Joanne, a Geriatric Care Manager from Your Elder Experts. 

At first Jack was suspicious, and sent Joanne away. Three months later, he called back. Over the time they worked together, Jack and Joanne developed a relationship that allowed Jack to trust her and accept some help, while Joanne’s patience and persistence let her do what was possible at the moment and not to expect miracles. Joanne worked with home modification contractors to make the house wheelchair accessible, and to make it possible for all of Jack’s living to be on one level. She carefully screened home health aides until she found two who could accommodate Jack’s temperament and difficult personality. Jack now refers to his weekday aide as an “angel on earth”.  

Joanne arranged for a physician to make home visits, Jack’s medications are monitored, he looks healthier than he has in years, and best of all, he is living in the house where he was born. While not quite managing with just a telephone and a flashlight, he is managing with six hours of home care and an emergency call system. Jack is still frail, and he lives simply, but with the help of his own Elder Expert he is living life in his own home as he wished.  

An Elder Law Attorney

Daniel Stevens, an elder law attorney, had accepted a case that was supposed to be simple: Create a will, a Health Care Proxy, and a Durable Power of Attorney for an 82-year-old man.

Problem: In talking with the man, Mr. Stevens realized the elder seemed unable to handle his finances or make decisions. He visited the man at home, where he lived alone, and noticed peeling wallpaper, leaks, and unkempt rooms.

The man’s out-of-town family had patched together help with cleaning and laundry services and had arranged for visiting nurse services after he had sustained a fall. However, it was not enough.

Solution: Mr. Stevens suggested a consultation with a Geriatric Care Manager at Your Elder Experts. The Care Manager arranged for geriatric neuro-psych testing to assess the man's mental status. His memory problems were not as severe as the attorney had feared.

But the elder did need additional services to continue living safely alone in his home. Your Elder Experts was able to arrange a variety of services, from scheduling rides to doctors’ visits and monitoring his medications, to finding workers to make repairs around his house.

Throughout this time, the Your Elder Experts’ Care Manager was in touch with the man’s family, to assure them he was receiving excellent care.

An Elder Living Alone

Sylvia, an 85-year old woman, known to be a hoarder was living alone in her apartment. Her husband Saul, the love of her life, was in a nursing home for long-term care, because of many medical complications.

Problem: She needed help with filling out the Medicaid paperwork for her husband's nursing home. They had no children, and seemingly no other relatives involved in their lives. Sylvia was well-known and beloved in the community for her outspokenness and her concern for everyone she met.

Solution: Friends recommended that Sylvia call Your Elder Experts. Karen, Sylvia's Geriatric Care Manager, first referred her to an elder law attorney to do some estate planning, who then discovered that there was money to pay for the long-term care, and for other care for Sylvia. It turned out that a distant nephew was willing to become involved.

With the nephew as the Power of Attorney and Karen as Care Manager collaborating on decision-making, Karen helped Sylvia sort through her possessions, move to a nearby assisted living facility, grieve when her husband died, and arrange for appropriate medical followup for a cancerous ulcer on her leg.

Care Managers from Your Elder Experts continued to follow Sylvia over the next two years, accompanying her to doctors’ appointments as her medical conditions fluctuated and eventually worsened, and bonding with her around decision-making at the end of her life. Her spirit touched all who came in contact with her and her last years were filled with both caring friends and professionals.

A Daughter's Dilemma

Dr. Joanne Williams is a medical researcher in the Boston area with a busy schedule and two adolescent children. Her parents live a two-hour drive away in the town where Joanne grew up. Her father had been the town doctor and her mother was socially active.

Problem: Her parents are failing and seem unable to manage their house or their lives independently.

Joanne’s brother in California orders groceries for his parents online and has them delivered. They arranged for a gardener/handyman to help with the upkeep of the house. But it was not enough. Joanne’s mother was becoming more disoriented and anxious, calling Joanne five times a day for small reassurances, or to repeat something they had discussed half an hour earlier. Her father’s arthritis was more and more painful and he likely needed a hip replacement, which, as someone in the medical field, Joanne knew would be disruptive and catastrophic. She was driving home to care for them weekly and neglecting her own and her children’s lives.

Even though it was breaking her heart to think of moving her parents from their home, Joanne realized it had to happen. The rural town where they lived had few options for the kind of medical care and support they needed. Finances were a concern, as the money would have to last to care for both parents or for the surviving spouse when one of her parents died.

Solution: Joanne drew a circle on the map of her town and only considered the two senior housing options within a half mile of her house. A colleague suggested she at least talk to Your Elder Experts before bringing her reluctant parents to look at the two options. The Geriatric Care Manager met with Joanne and her parents at her home, in the evening because of Joanne’s work schedule. She was able to assess the elders’ frailty, and also get a sense of their finances.She then suggested two more appropriate senior housing options, still close by, but with low-income programs so the couple would not have to move if their money ran out.

Joanne and the Geriatric Care Manager also strategized how to show the assisted living facilities to the parents, considering their frailty and the emotionality of the decision for everyone. Surprisingly, her parents agreed to a one-month respite stay at a facility that would not have even been on Joanne’s list, but which was only a half-mile from where she worked. Their adjustment has been relatively smooth, and the phone calls have ceased. Joanne is able to check in on her parents every day if she wishes, and had the time to take her older son to look at colleges. Her parents attended her daughter’s chorus concert at the middle school, and the family is looking forward to being together for Thanksgiving. Her parents are strongly considering making the move a permanent one.

Dealing with Dementia

Mr. and Mrs. Marks, a loving couple, had been living in their own home. He was 85 years old and she was 75. He had been a successful chemical engineer and she was a gifted artist and gallery owner, and the homemaker for the family. Their two children lived out of state, in Maine and Pennsylvania.

Problem: Mrs. Marks was diagnosed with early dementia. Although still driving, she was having difficulty managing their home, organizing and structuring her day, and her husband needed respite.

Solution: The family contacted Your Elder Experts and the Geriatric Care Manager first arranged for some companion services to help with the household tasks and to bring some respite for Mr. Marks. As the dementia progressed, the care manager helped the family work with the timing of Mrs. Marks’ giving up driving. She helped them find an appropriate assisted-living facility with enough support and structure during the day for Mrs. Marks, and near enough to Harvard and MIT for Mr. Marks to keep up his intellectual engagement with the community and his previous social network. When the dementia progressed, Mrs. Marks moved to the dementia floor, while Mr. Marks remained on the traditional side, so they could still share their lives, but with care appropriate to each individual’s needs. The children rely on the Geriatric Care Manager from Your Elder Experts to take much of the burden of the day to day managing of their parents’ care and as an additional expert resource when there is a crisis.

A Physician's Concern

Dr. Ethan Summers is a well-respected cardiologist. Mr. Michael Fisher is his patient. Mr. Fisher’s heart problems are minor, but Dr. Summers still was scheduling appointments with him every three months or so, just to keep an eye on Mr. Fisher and his wife.

Mr. Fisher has untreated mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease, and Mrs. Fisher, because of a recent fall, is no longer driving. The couple had moved to an apartment but their primary care physician was three towns away, nearer where they used to live, and so they were not able to see her regularly. The couple’s daughters both live in California.

Problem: Dr. Summers discovered that Mr. Fisher had driven on his own to his appointment at the large urban medical center, after his wife’s fall had made it impossible for her to drive him in.

Solution: Dr. Summers called the couple's daughters to express his concern and they contacted Your Elder Experts. The Care Manager visited the couple at their home and discovered how tenuous their situation had become. Mrs. Fisher recently felt she had no choice but to send her husband out to drive to the grocery store with a list, even though his Alzheimer’s made such a task dangerous, if not impossible.

With the Care Manager’s help, Mr. Fisher is now being seen by a local geriatrician who can coordinate the various medical diagnoses for both husband and wife. She arranged for support for Mrs. Fisher and transportation to physician appointments. She is the daughters’ local eyes and ears to monitor the situation, and Dr. Summers now schedules his appointments annually for Mr. Fisher, which is appropriate to his medical condition, since he can feel assured that the couple’s other needs are being met.

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