David and Maureen’s story

What do you do when your husband of 35 years, who had been fading over the years, suddenly “falls off a cliff” and you find yourself checking him in and out of hospitals and nursing facilities? You hope you meet an angel — in this case a social worker at Village Healthcare nursing facility, who tells you about Providence ElderPlace.

That’s exactly where Maureen Whitman found herself in September 2012.

David, a former chemical engineer, and Maureen, a former registered nurse, had been enjoying their retirement years together. They each had their own hobbies to keep them busy, traveled together throughout the United States and enjoyed spending time with family. But when chronic health conditions began to take their toll, David started a downward spiral that led to repeated falls, hospitalizations and nursing facility stays. Much to the couple’s relief, medical staff and caregivers at the hospitals and nursing facilities always were able to stabilize his condition, allowing him to return home with Maureen as his primary caregiver. David was adamant that he didn’t want to live his last days in a nursing facility.

But Maureen recognized if he continued to decline, she physically wouldn’t be able to care for him at home. That thought broke her heart.

So when Maureen and David heard about the care and support they could receive through ElderPlace, they quickly signed on.

“It was an inauspicious first day,” Maureen confessed. “We were members in signature only, since we hadn’t paid a penny.” David woke her at 3 a.m. the day after they signed on as ElderPlace members and told her he needed to go to the emergency room.

The ElderPlace team members stepped up immediately to help. “Everyone was wonderful,” Maureen said. “I’ve never been treated so well in my life. I was blown away by the careful treatment from every member of the team.”

The ElderPlace team immediately assessed David’s health, did an in-home review, and held a personal care planning meeting to learn David’s goals for his health and well-being. A personalized care plan was developed, including: making recommendations for minor home modifications to help David maneuver around the house, training to help Maureen safely care for David, and refining David’s goals into an action plan.

David’s original care plan included in-home caregivers scheduled to visit every day. But it soon became clear that David’s condition wasn’t responding to treatments. He grew weaker and fell more frequently. Increasing back pain, anemia, and peripheral neuropathy with foot ulcers hampered David’s mobility. Maureen’s bad back limited her ability to provide David with the physical support he needed to move about the house. It took another fall, this time one where Maureen couldn’t help David get back up, for them to realize David could no longer be safely cared for at home. Shortly afterward, David moved into Lidia Strizu’s welcoming and capable adult care home.

At his adult care home, David received the necessary support to keep him living safely and independently. His own private room and the family-like setting allowed him to maintain his independence and privacy. David also visits the ElderPlace health and social center where he participates in different activities, sees his primary care team and works with the ElderPlace physical therapists.

After 35 years of a happy marriage, David’s move to an adult care home was tough on Maureen but she is adjusting. They talk at least three times each day. She recently took a week-long trip to Niagara Falls to attend a Road Scholar educational and travel event, offered by Elderhostel, Inc. It was an important milestone for Maureen. Her trust in the ElderPlace team and in Lidia allowed her to go on this trip. She knew David would be well cared for while she was gone.

David is doing well these days. He recently asked for more visits to the health and social centers so he can increase his physical therapy. His goal is to regain his strength so he can walk again. He knows that Maureen and the care team at ElderPlace will be with him ... every step of the way.