When the phone rang and it was Sam’s mom telling his that his dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital, he was frightened. He knew his dad’s life would not be the same after a heart attack. It seemed like it was so sudden.

Frank leads a healthy life. He is active, doesn’t smoke, eats healthy, exercises daily, and meditates to keep his stress levels down. Sam kept wondering if there were any warning signs and his mom said that his dad had been out of breath a bit more lately but not enough to be concerned. He thought it was just age “catching up with him.” They had planned to mention it to their primary care physician at the next appointment. She said that morning he woke up and complained of being a bit dizzy, but he was not concerned. The heart attack happened suddenly, and she was very scared. She called for an ambulance, and she was able to ride with him in the ambulance to the hospital. She told Sam that they gave him nitro and worked on him in the ambulance. By the time they got to the hospital, Frank was able to whisper to her that he loved her, and she thought that was a good sign.

Sam was able to speak with the doctor and he told them there are cases where you can do everything right, not experience any symptoms, and still have a heart attack. The challenge will be to prevent another one from occurring. He reassured both Sam and his mom that Frank’s good health would benefit him in his recovery but that there would need to be some adjustments around home and his care for a while.

The doctor said Frank would likely be able to return to the things he did before. He would have to be patient, know his limits, rest when he was are tired, and ask for help when he needed it. Every one of these things were not going to be easy for Frank. He is a very independent and strong man, who is used to handling his own business. Sam knew that the conversations would have to let his dad know that doing these things were what was going to make sure he healed and would not have to do them anymore. This could take weeks or months.

When it was time to go home from the hospital a discharge planner brought all of the documents to Sam and his parents. There was so much information and it was evident that Sam would need to stay longer to help get this all set up. They took Frank home and he was happy to be home but when he saw that a hospital bed was in his TV room he immediately protested. The problem was that all of the bedrooms were on the top floor and he needed to limit steps for the time being. He was really frustrated so Sam asked him if he’d rather be at home in a hospital bed on the first floor or be in a nursing home or assisted living. Frank got the point and started to adjust his response to the changes that were happening.

When Sam called our offices to ask for a meeting to discuss his parents care, he asked if we could meet first without his parents and go from there and I agreed. I met with him, and he shared how his father felt about receiving help. I was familiar with this type of reaction to a care manager and there are ways to meet and work with a client that honors their wishes for independence and avoiding the feeling that they are being monitored. We agreed the approach should be about how to get him some help that he could trust having in his home. I met Frank and his lovely wife at their home and explained my credentials, certification, and experience in the community.

While talking to Frank, it turned out that we know some of the same professionals in the community and we had an immediate rapport. I was able to share how I managed the care for my parents and how I am also independent and use the approach that I would want for my own care. He would be able to give input and veto anything that I brought up. By giving him this option, he felt more control over the situation. When discussing options, I always presented two or three options for him to choose from. After our work together for a few months, he would defer to my idea unless it was a major decision.

I was able to help him get to a local cardiac rehabilitation center. I found options to help around the house with an aide from a local agency. He did the hard parts of managing his diet by making a list for the aide to pick up and he also maintained his meditation. He was able to manage his own medications. He was focused on regaining strength and it was only two weeks before we were able to have the bed picked up from his den since he could use the stairs and sleep in is own bed. He enjoyed the cardiac rehab and did all the exercises at home and even convinced his wife to join him. This really was a success story as he recovered well, and my services were no longer needed for him.

A few years later they called when his wife received a mild cognitive impairment diagnosis, and I was happy to meet with them again.

If you or someone in your family are facing concerns about health challenges as you age, please give us a call at 585-787-0009 or email us at lmiraglia@seniorschoicecare.com to find out how we can help.