Lifespan Planning Real Life Story

July 11, 2005 at 5:13 pm  •  Posted in Lifespan Planning, Real Life Stories, Seniors And Aging by  •  0 Comments

By Forrest Hong, PhD, LCSW, CMC

Renee is a working professional with a husband and child. She and her immediate family live in the Southwest region of the country. She has recently been informed by her aunt's physician that she will need to come to California to take care of her aunt Louise.

Louise is in her mid-90. She has recently started to experience a major decline in her health and mental status which has affected her ability to care for herself. She is living with her husband who is a retired physician. Both have managed to take care of each other until her husband experienced a minor heart attack two month's ago. As a result he has a pacemaker and is taking medications for his condition. Upon discharge from the hospital, the husband has also shown a decline in his mental status and has become increasingly forgetful. Meanwhile, Louise complains about her inability to sleep at night and difficulty in walking around the house.

Renee, because she lives out of state, was recommended to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in working with families and older adults. Together the two worked on hiring caregivers to supervise and assist her aunt and uncle during the day, as well as at night. In addition, the Social Worker assisted in re-connecting the aunt and uncle with their primary care physician by ensuring they made it to their appointments, as well as made sure their physician was aware of the uncle's medication needs. The Social Worker was also able to arrange to have both evaluated and assessed at a nearby geriatric assessment center to determine what plan and treatment could be followed for managing their decline in their mental status.

Within two months, both aunt and uncle are doing better medically. Although they still require home care workers in assisting with some of their basic needs, their mental status has stopped declining. Renee's uncle now goes out with a friend once-a-week to play golf and her aunt has returned to her routine of walking through a nearby mall while accompanied by her paid care provider.

Renee has been able to visit her aunt and uncle three to four times during the year without feeling guilty. Through the assistance of the social worker, Renee feels a sense of peace having a professional oversee the care and treatment of her relatives. This help has increased her relative's ability to stay in their own home and improved their quality of life.

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