mental health

Read the true story of an elderly couple facing the challenges of psychosis, behavioral changes, and hospitalization.

My mom, who married Gary 41 years ago, recently called the paramedics because he had fallen at home. Gary’s doctor informed our family that Gary was suffering from a urinary tract infection and psychosis but was stable and ready for discharge. My mom wanted Gary to complete his rehabilitation at home, since she had promised him he would always be at home. Marissa, Gary’s daughter, wanted to follow the social worker’s suggestion that he go to a psychiatric facility for rehab. My mom wasn’t having anything to do with that.

Gary’s physician suggested that we contact a Life Care Manager at Keen Home Care. The LCM came within an hour to meet with us in Gary’s hospital room. After assessing Gary’s status and speaking with his physician, the Life Care Manager indicated that Gary could be safely cared for at home. My mom was thrilled. Gary’s dad had died in a nursing home, and Gary made her promise she would never put him in a facility.

I was very worried about my mom because she’s 92 years old and has her own medical problems. I was afraid that she would kill herself caring for him and dealing with his new verbal abusiveness. The LCM arranged for Gary’s transport home and set up 24-hour care. She also arranged for a home health RN and PT to visit Gary.

I stayed at my mom’s for the first few days, so I could look out for her while the Caregiver focused on Gary’s needs. The LCM visited daily to assess Gary and provide instructions for the Caregivers. She also arranged for Gary to be evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist who recommended a new medication that stabilized Gary’s behavior. The LCM took Gary to his doctor’s appointments, managed his medications, and monitored the Caregivers to ensure Gary did the daily exercises and walking set up by the PT. Gary returned to walking with his walker.

For the past 40 years that I’ve known Gary, he has always been a bit paranoid. The only person he trusts is his financial advisor, Tom. Tom visited Gary one day while the LCM was there, and they discussed the importance of getting his affairs in order. Gary had refused to sign an advanced healthcare directive, assign power of attorney for healthcare, or create a trust. Tom informed Gary and my mom that, despite Gary having a temporary mental health issue, his cognition had returned to baseline. Tom helped Gary understand the consequences of not completing these important documents and was successful in having him sign them. My mom was relieved.

The Keen Caregivers have become part of our family. Gary no longer curses them (or my mom) and looks forward to their cooking. Their primary Caregiver, Julie, recently took them to see the first home they lived in on the hill in Palos Verdes and out to lunch at Terranea. Gary and my mom were thrilled with their trip down memory lane and talk about it almost every day.

My mom tells me every time I see or speak with her how grateful she is that she was able to bring Gary home. I know she would have felt tremendous guilt about making any other choice.

Gratefully,

Kathy F.

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