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Shay Jacobson, RN, MA, NMG, LNCC, CNLCP

Sammie, as he is known to all his friends, has risen to the rank of number one client – the valedictorian of his class. How has he done this? By using the most services? No. By paying the most money? No. He did this by embracing our concept of surrounding his life with care. The Surround Care™ concept brings in the services that mirror the ebb and flow of the family’s life. The Lifecare Management tracking system monitors progress and events to keep life steady. Obstacles always appear along the path – life happens and the global view is the fastest, most efficient and wisest way over, under, around or through the road hazards.

Sammie came to us at the youthful age of 65, just before he retired from his lifetime career as a bank executive. Sammie was and is a meticulous planner; he put his estate in order by creating living trusts, choosing his decision makers, and picking his primary caregiver. He had his life organized but in order to keep it on track he had advisors in place to guide him through the rough spots.

Sammie and Sue moved to Minnesota to be near their daughter, their future primary caregiver. Life moved along its course over the years and periodically the plan needed updating and rerouting. Sue was diagnosed with cancer three times, twice with distinct primaries and one recurrence that turned into a chronic condition. Sue later developed Alzheimer’s and Sammie was diagnosed with kidney failure and stenosis of the spine – life happens. Sammie sought help finding primary and specialty care physicians, obtaining second opinions, and engaging rehabilitation specialists. He was continually researching his best options with his professional advocates to navigate through the healthcare maze.

One of the most significant plan derailers was when his daughter took a new position four hours from Sammie’s home base. His primary caregiver plan was broken. He revised his plan using his secondary choice for primary caregiver, his son Paul. As their health added new challenges over the next ten years Sammie recognized that care in the home was a critical part of their being able to age in place. Sue developed pneumonia when they were on vacation. Her hospitalization was complicated by two falls, breaking and rebreaking her hip all in the same “extended stay hotel” in Arizona – otherwise known as the hospital. Sammie again engaged his advisors to coordinate the extensive rehabilitation program and home care until they became independent again in their own home with Sammie as the caregiver for his wife, Sue. Sammie realized that this could not go on forever as his health was not perfect so, in Sammie’s usual style, he called in his advisors to revise the plan. His son Peter, 56, agreed to take early retirement in the next two years and move in with his parents to assume the role of primary caregiver. It appeared to be a feasible plan and all parties agreed.

The need for care was accelerated when Sue had a winter mishap. Sammie called on one cold Minnesota day and said Sue fell on the ice and broke her back in four places. They were contemplating the wisdom of the surgery and decided to schedule the procedure to ease the pain. Sammie agreed to make the call to Paul to let him know the need for a primary caregiver was imminent. But before Sammie pitched the new job offer to his son Paul, Sammie got a call that was the ultimate plan crasher.

Sammie and Sue were not yet destined to move into the role of dependent parents. A nurse called from an Illinois emergency room informing Sammie that his 56 year old son had a massive heart attack and was being resuscitated as they spoke. Since Sammie was listed as the closest relative she asked, “Should they stop CPR?” Our 84 year old gentleman turned immediately to his advisor as all of Sammie’s well thought out plans suddenly shattered like fine china.

Sammie leaned on LCI to help make the critical life, death, and quality of life decisions that Paul needed at this juncture. Sammie was trapped in Minnesota by a raging blizzard and Sue’s incapacitation with her broken back. LCI became Sammie’s eyes and ears at the hospital. The advisor filled the role of reporting events and interpreting doctor talk so that Sammie could make the critical, immediate decisions that were required.

Paul’s massive heart attack left him with a damaged heart, failed kidneys, and no brain function. We held Sammie’s hand as he was forced to let go of his only son – an unexpected event that failed to follow the natural order of life. It was an honor that we were able to be there for Sammie and his family as an “old and trusted friend” to provide stability in a volcanic moment.

Now Sammie is faced with another fork in the road and we are still there to surround his life with care – the right fit for the present situation. To Sammie, the patriarch of the family, acting as principle navigator on the road of life falls on his shoulders. Sammie, Sue and their daughter have come together to forge a new plan for Sammie and Sue. Professional in?home caregivers are bridging the gap as we move this couple north to their daughter’s town. Since we can no longer bring the caregiver to Sammie and Sue we are bringing them to their daughter. His daughter has recently taken a new job and welcomes LCI as a surrogate sibling to orchestrate
and execute this major life move.

LCI cannot change the basic facts of life but our presence over the last fifteen years has made the road less bumpy and easier to navigate for Sammie and Sue. They are looking forward to being near their daughter. Providing “GPS” services furnishing options and solving problems – on the path of life is an honor and a privilege for LCI. We make the route a little easier to navigate for Sammie and Sue, who show us all how to successfully engage help at life’s critical intersections.

© Lifecare Innovations, Inc.