Everyone Needs an Advocate

holing hands

This month we decided to share one of the many heartwarming family stories we witness on a regular basis at Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. The following client story is about a couple that cared for each other after difficult circumstance following two strokes, and shares how important it is to have an advocate when someone you love is going through long-term recovery.

Caretaking of a loved one can bring forth all kinds of emotions, good and bad, and also can be rewarding, while at the same time challenging. Often during these strenuous seasons, either the best of us comes out or, unfortunately, sometimes the worst. What we often hear from our friends and social circles about others who are going through these challenges are negative stories full of perceived incompetents, or worse betrayal. However, what is more often the case and what we’ve experienced at Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. are stories of true love being expressed amidst life altering situations.

This month’s client story is about Paul and Carolyn, and the many influential partners that assisted them during their time of great need. Following 40 years of marriage Carolyn suffered a stroke and needed caretaking from her husband Paul. Suffering from minor symptoms following this incident, Carolyn lost some soft skills communicating and following conversations for extended periods of time became difficult. While this was a challenge for both Paul and Carolyn, they worked together to meet it.

From talking with Paul, this new life together was heartbreaking at times, but rewarding at others. As true love goes, taking care of one another took a lot of effort and patience, but they carried out life together under these circumstances, as best they ever had. Spending this new season of life together, Paul and Carolyn adapted and grew in their relationship. Throughout this process, Paul learned an awful lot about the health care system, and Carolyn learned about the many things she could still do, like the daily crossword puzzle and continuing to hit a golf ball down the center of the fairway.

The next 16 years went by as they always do, way too fast, and unfortunately after this time Carolyn suffered a second stroke. As often is the case, the second stroke was much more severe than the first and completely changed the living environment required for Carolyn, as her new condition involved the necessity of a feeding tube and around the clock assistance.

For recovery, Paul made the best decision he could to transfer Carolyn to a skilled nursing community. Here, Carolyn could receive physical therapy to assist her with eating, transition her to being off the feeding tube and hopefully someday soon return home. Still planning that day will come, Paul has continued to live in the home they have had for many years.

Being there for Carolyn through recovery and therapy after her first stroke, Paul experienced the wonderful services offered by individuals involved in the elder care industry. Through these discoveries, Paul learned that like any complex system, it isn’t perfect and that by being Carolyn’s advocate throughout her recovery process, she would have a much better chance at recovery and returning home. Therefore, aside from making daily and sometimes multiple visits a day to spend time together, Paul continually monitored the care she was receiving.

While choosing a skilled nursing community, Paul made sure to analyze the care plan arranged for Carolyn. After admitting Carolyn into residency, Paul smartly continued to monitor the plan. During this observation, Paul spent extra time re-introducing himself to the staff and volunteering for numerous tasks, like serving meals and visiting other residents. Through this Paul developed relationships that would assist him in looking after Carolyn.

After a couple weeks of visiting, Paul noticed Carolyn was developing bedsores on her feet and hips. Bringing this to the attention of the staff, he was told that someone was routinely coming to check in on her and reposition her. They assured Paul that someone had just been in the hour before he came in. After this, Paul decided to come in the next few days even more often to observe the sores, and the same scenario ensued to play out. After receiving the identical feedback from staff, Paul made the wise decision to speak with the executive director of the community, whom he had worked with to develop Carolyn’s care plan. Long story short, Paul has since continued his daily visits and the sores have subsided.

Another event that proved having an advocate was valuable involved Paul checking up on Carolyn’s medical prescriptions. Not being able to swallow after her second stroke, the pharmacist and doctor recommended one of Carolyn’s prescriptions be crushed. Following this instruction, Paul was concerned and quickly called his doctor to get a second recommendation. Paul’s personal doctor notified him that since the crushed prescription was a slow-release capsule, it should not be crushed and would likely deteriorate Carolyn’s health if this regiment was continued for the duration of treatment. After hearing this, Paul called for a special meeting with Carolyn’s skilled nursing community and they swiftly made the necessary changes to Carolyn’s treatment.

Many of us know or have someone close to us whom has suffered a stroke and needed continuing care for recovery. Paul, the advocate and incredible man that he is, provided much of the required care by being Carolyn’s advocate, by making daily visits and communicating continuously with the skilled nursing team looking after Carolyn. From routinely checking in on Carolyn and her care, to reading books in the evening at her bedside, Paul assisted in Carolyn’s recovery, just like countless people do so lovingly every day around the country.

This story of continuous love and support given so freely by such a devoted person is not uncommon. At Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. we love the fact that we get to work alongside so many great individuals in our community, committing compassionate acts of service for those in need. Some of the practices that Paul implemented in providing care for Carolyn all of us should be ready to apply if called upon. A short list of some of these actions include…

·         Managing expectations of those caring for our loved ones

·         Introducing and reintroducing yourself to staff to develop relationships

·         Developing a care plan and ensuring it is being followed closely

·         Having regular meetings with staff reviewing the care plan

·         Getting to know the Executive Director and insisting he or she be present at                          meetings

·         Calling special meetings if you feel necessary

·         Insisting on 24/7 visiting hours

Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. has been serving Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Council with Proactive Solutions. Call us today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website berger-lawfirm.com or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.


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