Widowed at 82, Helen moved to a retirement community.
She enjoyed not having the stress of maintaining a home and yard, having people around for company, access to activities, and a dining room for meals when she did not feel like cooking.
Her daughter and son lived out of state, but they called and visited often.
After a bout of pneumonia, her son urged her to take advantage of in-house services:
- for showering assistance,
- medication delivery
- and having a care provider check on her several times a day.
During her recovery, Helen valued the contact and attention, and came to look forward to staff visits.
Her family felt a sense of security, knowing Helen was being cared for.
Several weeks later, her daughter came for a visit, and was shocked to discover Helen was withdrawn and had significantly lost weight.
She discovered Helen had only been eating one meal per day,
saying, “it required too much energy” to get to the dining room, and she did not want to trouble the staff with any more requests by asking to have meals delivered to her.
Trying to find out why no one had told her of her mother’s condition,
the staff said they knew Helen was going to the dining room, and they had “no idea she was skipping meals and continuing to feel weak”, that she was “always so polite and easy going to work with.”
The daughter intervened and a trip to the doctor, an order for physical therapy (available in the retirement community)and meal delivery service put Helen back on the road to recovery
Social workers and life care managers are professionals prepared to be advocates and “boots on the ground” for your senior, and can:
- Assess and plan for changing needs
- Communicate with family
- Provide medical advocacy
- Problem solve
- Manage crisis
An impartial and professional set of eyes regularly looking out for Helen’s well-being and best interest would have identified Helen’s care needs, changes in behavior and facilitated family and physician contact.