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Vail Daily column: Resources exist for senior care services

Judson Haims

I’m not doing my job very well.

As the owner of a local business I am realizing I haven’t marketed my said business as well as I had thought. A recent interaction with a member of the community brought this to my attention.

Imagine your spouse just had a surgery and now it is time to take them home. Now that the anxiety of hoping for a safe and successful procedure is behind you, your only concern is to make recovery as comfortable as possible. How that happens is not always smooth sailing.



CARING FOR A SPOUSE

A few weeks ago, my office received a call from the daughter of a couple that lives here in the valley. (I’ll call her Liz.) Her mother had surgery recently and her father had thought that he was “perfectly capable” of taking care of his wife’s needs at home. (I’ll call them Marty and Ruth.)



Marty is only 73 years old. He ran a very successful business with about 60 employees, still bikes, plays golf and hikes with his wife. He has told me that while he does not cook as well as Ruth, he can prepare a good meal and knows all too well how to call for take-out.

All was going well for the first two days. However, into day three, Marty was exhausted. Ruth needed to go to physical therapy every day and getting her to and from the car was posing a significant challenge. Further, there was shopping to be done and medications to be picked up. While all this was manageable, the coup de grace for Marty was the lack of sleep at night.

Marty had been kept up much of the first few nights doing whatever he could to accommodate Ruth and make her comfortable. Between the occasional bathroom visits and scheduled pain medications that needed to be given, Marty became sleep deprived.



On the morning of the third day home, Ruth awoke at 3 a.m. and needed a pain pill. Marty went to the kitchen to get the pills and accidentally spilled them on the floor. Somehow, while picking them up, he fell forward, hitting his head on the door handle of a kitchen cabinet and got a pretty good size cut.

Fortunately, later in the day, Liz arrived at the house. She had flown in from out of state to visit with her folks and offer assistance to her mom and dad. While she knew her dad was capable of taking care of her mom, she had just thought she’d come visit and be supportive.

After a few hours of talking, Marty asked that Liz take Ruth to physical therapy so he could take a nap. When Liz and Ruth returned home it was after 5 p.m. and they found Marty fast asleep on the couch. Liz made her mom some dinner and later helped her to bed. Sometime before midnight, Liz checked in on her dad before heading to bed. She found Marty fast asleep and decided to let him find his way to bed whenever he awoke.

Over the next few days, it became apparent to Liz that her dad was overwhelmed and exhausted. She asked her dad if there was any company available to help him and was surprised when her dad said no such company was here in town. Unsatisfied with his answer, Liz searched the Internet and found two companies, Homecare and Hospice of the Valley and Visiting Angels.

HELP IS AVAILABLE

That Marty was unaware of the companies here in town that are able to provide assistance is unfortunate. I asked Marty why he had not called the doctor’s office or hospital to find assistance. He explained that the doctor had mentioned to him that Denver had many rehabilitation facilities that could help Ruth recover and therefore just assumed that help did not exist here.

On behalf of Visiting Angels, I solely take the responsibility for not doing a better job getting our company information out to the general public. While my staff and I communicate frequently with many doctors and nurses, I seem to have missed the obvious — the general public and the front desk staff of the medical providers.

While at this time there is no single organization to contact for a listing of resources available here in the mountain communities, here are a few that may be of assistance:

• Health and Human Services: http://www.eaglecounty.us/HHS, 970-328-8840.

• Eagle Valley Senior Life: http://www.evslife.org, 970-977-0188.

• Visiting Angels: http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, visit http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.


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