Jim, age 99, lives independently in a senior living community, thanks to his trio of support—his daughters, MaryAnn and Rosie, and his Lifespark nurse, Brooke Anderson, RN. “Truthfully, Dad has never really been independent—never packed a suitcase, never done a load of laundry or cooked a meal, but considering his age and health challenges, he does pretty well,” MaryAnn said, who tag-teams with Rosie to spend time with him, take him to doctor appointments, stand by (discretely) while he showers.
In fact, it was a fall in the shower just before COVID that connected the family to Lifespark. After a short hospitalization, Jim was discharged to Lifespark Home Health for skilled nursing and rehab services. “As luck would have it—although it never feels like lucky when your loved one has a fall—when his senior living community went into COVID lockdown, Dad was already getting care from Lifespark,” MaryAnn said. She and her sister weren’t allowed into the building for many months, but at least they knew their father was in good hands.
During this pause, MaryAnn and Rosie realized how stressful it had been to manage his medications. Between Jim’s chronic leg ulcers, frequent skin infections, edema, and congestive heart failure, his medication regimen had become increasingly complex. Before his Medicare-covered services ended, the sisters decided to continue with private-pay nursing.
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Since last July, Brooke Anderson, RN Case Manager with Lifespark Community Home Care, has visited Jim almost every Monday. She sets up his medications, checks his INRs and blood pressure, takes care of any skin issues, and talks sports with him. “I love starting my week with him,” she said.
For MaryAnn and Rosie, having Brooke manage their dad’s medications has been huge. “We pick up the prescriptions at the pharmacy and she handles the rest—requests refills, reports his INRs to his doctor, and fills his automated pill dispenser,” MaryAnn said.
To streamline his wound care, Brooke contacted Jim’s dermatologist to request a standing order for the ointments, gauze, and tape. “Now, instead of having to wait for the doctor to call in the order, I can treat his wounds as soon as they open up,” Brooke said. She also coaches Jim on ways to reduce his edema, like keeping his legs elevated when he’s seated. “Jim’s got some memory issues, so I just remind him to do what he knows will help,” she said.
From Day 1, Brooke, MaryAnne, and Rosie have been in constant communication. “Brooke is the most communicative, responsive caregiver we’ve ever had,” MaryAnn said. “It creates such a sense of trust to know she’s looking out for Dad.”
The sisters email Brooke their questions and concerns and keep her in the loop after his primary care, cardiology, podiatry, and dermatology appointments. And after every visit with Jim, Brooke emails the sisters and reports back on conversations with his physicians. “I think we have a dozen email threads going!” Brooke said.
Another point of trust is their financial arrangement. “Brooke respects that we want to handle as much of Dad’s care as possible to keep his costs down, but when we need her to step in, she always comes through for us—scheduling a tele-med appointment if we can’t take him to the clinic or stopping by if neither of us can visit him,” MaryAnn said. “It really is a perfect fit for us.”
On turning 100
Recently, Jim told Brooke he wasn’t sure was going to make it to his 100th birthday. “I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Oh, no, you’re not pulling a Betty White on me! I’ve already picked out the cupcakes.’ He smiled and said, ‘Oh, sweetheart, you’re so good to me,’” she said. “He’s truly one of my favorite humans on the planet.”
And for additional resources on how you can help prevent falls in the home for your loved one, check out our eBook, a guide for protecting your loved one’s independence.