I'm Happy to be home: After hospital visits and nursing home stays, consumer is now cared for by her son at home
At 97-years-old, Theresa has a full social calendar. Her son and full-time caregiver, John, makes sure of that--dedicating his life to finding fun activities to do together throughout the week. Theresa is so involved at her senior center that she is treated like a local celebrity. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she takes exercise classes. Thursdays are spent playing Bingo. Theresa sits in her usual spot next to friends; John calls out the numbers. On Fridays, they attend a coffee hour and listen to guest speakers. And when they feel like breaking routine, they take spontaneous day trips to Block Island or Plymouth Rock.
"I like to go out," Theresa says with a smile.
"I want her to be happy," says John. "That's all that matters to me."
It is hard to believe that just a year and a half ago, Theresa was back and forth between the hospital and nursing home. Among her medical conditions are congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and hypertension. She also suffered a few bad falls. Theresa often stayed in her room to watch TV and rarely participated in activities at the nursing home. Her son visited every day, but he did not feel like that was enough.
"Her nurses were nice, but there were always new people caring for her," says John, who wanted to be consulted more on his mother's care. "I felt helpless. I couldn't do anything to help her." Frustrated and worried about his mother's well-being, John asked Theresa if she wanted to go home.
"I missed everything about home," Theresa says. She wanted to be back in the house she had shared with her family, in the Rhode Island town she had lived in her entire life.
John was told that his mother would not be able to go home unless she was receiving around-the-clock care. "I didn't make a lot of money," says John, who worked for many years as a pizza delivery man, but he began to explore their options. It was by his own initiative and pursuit of information that he found Caregiver Homes.
Through collaboration and support, John and Theresa joined Caregiver Homes, which uses an intensive care model called Structured Family Caregiving administered by the state as RIte @ Home. John now receives the training, support and financial assistance needed to care for his mom at home and in their community. During the transisition process, John made modifications to his home: he had a ramp installed on a side entrance, and he reorganized furniture in the house so there are clear pathways for Theresa's walker. Finally, with the help of Caregiver Homes, John was able to coordinate the end of his employment with the start of the program.
"There's no way I could care for my mom full-time without the support of the program," John said. "The care team feels like family; they're a big help."
At a monthly home visit with his Care Manager, John gives an update on his mother's health, reading from his detailed, daily notes. He is observant and vigilant about Theresa's care. Since moving back home, Theresa keeps regular primary care and specialty appointments. Theresa's outlook is positive and upbeat, and she always finds something to laugh about.
"Our relationship has changed a lot," Theresa says. "We're closer. He's a good boy; he's very good to me."
"Well, she's always been good to me," John says. "This is my way of giving back. She's my best friend, and it's great to have her home."