In 2019, when Bruce’s beloved wife, Beryl (“Bootz”), began showing more advanced symptoms of dementia, he was determined to care for her at home. And for the next three years, he did just that. After Bootz died in October 2021, his son said, “Well, Dad, mission accomplished.” Bruce credits Lifespark for helping him achieve that goal. “They were a godsend,” he said.
In-home primary care
Bruce and Bootz were introduced to Lifespark COMPLETETM through a referral letter from North Memorial Health. After meeting with Shevon Olson, RN, Life Manager, and Katelin Super, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Manager, the couple was on board. “I liked the convenience of having the care come to Bootz, but it wasn’t until COVID that I realized how lucky we were to not have to spend hours in crowded waiting rooms,” he said.
Even before the surge in late February 2020, the couple benefited from in-home primary care. They had just returned from a trip to Florida, feeling sick and assuming the worst. “Our Nurse Practitioner, Katelin, immediately ordered in-home chest x-rays, but fortunately, it was just a common cold,” Bruce said.
Full team effort
To make it possible for Bruce to care for his wife at home, one of their daughters took a partial leave from her job and stayed with them two days a week. They remodeled the entire house, inside and out, to make it fully accessible. Bootz continued to have falls, but Bruce managed to keep her from getting injured. “When I needed help getting her back on her feet, I’d call my next-door neighbor who was fortunately working from home,” he said. All that lifting eventually took a toll on Bruce’s back, but he knew that back surgery would have to wait.
“Bootz wasn’t hard to care for—she was always so sweet—but the support I got from Lifespark made a big difference in our day-to-day life,” he said. “I learned all sorts of practical things like how to put a diaper on her, bathe her, get her dressed, and feed her.”
As the Alzheimer’s progressed, Bootz stopped talking. “Occasionally, though, after days or weeks of total silence, she’d suddenly come out with some hilarious crack that would make us all laugh.” Until the day Alzheimer’s took her life, Bootz was too healthy to qualify for hospice. “I think that’s why her death came as a shock,” Bruce said.
Life after death
After Bootz died, Bruce told Shevon, their Life Manager, that he didn’t think he needed her anymore. She encouraged him to continue with Lifespark COMPLETE, with Katelin as his NP. “I’d never had a female clinician, but she’s so competent—I just love her,” Bruce said. “This past February, when I had spinal fusion surgery, she did my pre- and post- exams and brought in Lifespark Skilled Home Health Physical and Occupational Therapy, so I could do my rehab without leaving the house.”
As Bruce continues to recover from his surgery, he’s also learning how to live without his beloved Bootz. “Loneliness is the biggest issue, especially at night. I always loved sleeping with her,” he said. “Even though I’m not sure what I’ll do next, I know that my kids and Lifespark won’t let me stay lonely for long.”