“IS THIS A DREAM? BECAUSE I AM AFRAID I WILL WAKE UP”

by Audrey Miller on October 26, 2015

in Caregiving, Elder Care, Geriatric Care Management

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By: Nadia Bove BSW RSW, October 2015
These are powerful words spoken by our client. Doreen is a sweet 88 year old woman. She speaks in a soft whisper with an English accent, has beautiful white hair, skin and sharp blue eyes.

My job as a Geriatric Care Manager gives me the pleasure and honour of meeting many seniors like Doreen, who I have the opportunity help navigate the health care system. Doreen’s story is one of gratitude and appreciation, which I would like to share.
Doreen was living in a Retirement Residence in Toronto and had been placed there as a result of a fall the previous year. She fell and landed in the hospital where she was told it was time for her to move to a retirement residence. Doreen had no family to care for her so she quickly agreed and trusted her lawyer at the time to assist her with this process. With total disregard for Doreen’s needs she was moved to the retirement residence and unfortunately all her belongings were disposed of, leaving her without even one picture as a memory of her dear husband who had passed away years before. She was now in a very sad place in her life.

Today she has changed lawyers and her finances are now looked after by her financial institution. Her wise financial advisor (who had since been named as her Power of Attorney) asked me to meet with Doreen as she was concerned for her wellbeing and wanted to see what could be done for her.

The first time I met Doreen she warmed my heart with her kind and sweet nature. She told me how sad she was because she had phobias which were causing her a great deal of anxiety. Doreen lived in a multi level retirement home and her room was on the second floor. Doreen uses a walker and relied on the elevator to move around in the retirement home. Doreen is very claustrophobic and hesitated everyday to get into the elevator to go and have dinner in the dining room or participate in activities. In fact, she would not get in the elevator alone and sometime as a result, missed meals and activities. The claustrophobia stemmed from the days in her youth during the war when she spent hours in bunkers in the darkness. Although the retirement residence she lived in was well decorated and clean it was also generally dark with narrow hallways with poor lighting which made things even more difficult for Doreen. When we met, she tried to tell me that her tears were allergies but I knew that she was trying to hide her sadness.
Upon returning to the office I immediately began my search for a new retirement residence. I was able to find a residence which was all on one level, had fairly large rooms, wide hallways and had alot of natural light. This seemed like the perfect place for Doreen and the retirement residence was in the general area she desired.
The joy that was experience by all parties over the next few days was overwhelming to say the least. When we toured the retirement residence all Doreen could say with the tears streaming down her face was ” IS THIS A DREAM, BECAUSE I AM AFRAID I WILL WAKE UP”. We all cried with her.
I knew I had to act fast and immediately went into action. I am so grateful that everyone involved made this change happen as soon as possible. When the Power of Attorney provided the go ahead, within 5 days Doreen had moved in to her new accommodation. She was so HAPPY!
The importance of this story is that sometimes the smallest of things can make the greatest difference in someone’s life. Paying attention to detail, using your intuition and passion can lead to greater rewards than getting caught up in details and complicating issues.
There was a clear and simple solution to Doreen’s problem. We took the time to talk to Doreen and hear her stories and we found out who she was which made it very easy to find a place for her to live. It is important to listen and hear stories for seniors as it gives us a window into their lives and what is important to them in their everyday life.
Doreen made everyone involved in her care feel great and she filled our hearts with so much love. Having such a positive effect on someone’s life is so powerful and rewarding. That’s why I love my job!

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