By Lois Jasmer
Today I got some sad news; a client of mine passed away. He was a wonderful man with a great heart and a warm smile.
It has taken me a few weeks to put into word my thoughts and feelings about how it happened. But I feel that sharing this story could save someone dear to you.
I met Charlie a few years ago when I worked in an Independent Living community in the local area. He was vibrant and active, all the other residents knew his name and loved him. As time went on he continually declined. Other residents and staff were concerned for him and offered their help the best they could, to monitor his needs. Mind you he lived in and Independent Community that has no care what so ever. So any help he got was from his friends.
Charlie had limited funds to his name, he had a small social security check and some savings at the time I met him. He felt since he was living independently he was fine. The thing that Charlie did not foresee was the deterioration of his health and what that would cost over time financially.
When the time came and he realized that he really did need more help and care than he could get at the Independent Living Community; it was too late financially. He had used his savings to live there and now he only had his small Social Security check.
As I tried to find him a place that would take him; he gave up on thinking he could be helped. He decided to stay where he was and felt it would all be ok. He died a few days later, alone, on the floor in the bathroom where no one found him for over 12 hours.
I bring this to light as my heart breaks for him still and want to educate my readers on a couple of things. First of all it is very important to understand that an Independent Living Community is not a place for a senior with any care needs. They need the oversight of a nursing staff and all of the safe guards that entails. This could be anything from safety checks, to daily blood pressure monitoring to an actual trained caregiver interacting with him daily to detect and act on any changes immediately.
Secondly seniors thrive in care communities and adult family homes. They are cared for daily and moment by moment in some situations. They are not left to fend for themselves and figure out why they aren’t feeling quite right. The staff becomes a part of the family in many cases and wants the best for the senior.
As humans we tend to procrastinate or be in denial much of the time. We are afraid of making the wrong decision. There will always be a reason not to make a move whether it be an unrealistic expectation, guilt, finances or waiting for the senior to buy into the idea. The safety and health of the senior should always be first and foremost and making a move to a safe environment can never be too soon.
But it can be too late. Rest in Peace Charlie.