In a quiet town in northern Michigan, Linda has helped her father, Jim, enjoy aging in place. Jim has lived in this area since his childhood, inheriting the home from his parents when they passed. It was a simple decision for him- he grew up in the house, so he wanted to also age there just as his parents had done.
For Linda, supporting her father’s choice was also a simple decision. It wasn’t only because the option made him happiest - it made the most sense for keeping him active and healthy. “It’s been his community his entire life. His connections are there, his favorite gathering places are here, he’s familiar with the area,” Linda explained. “We never considered having to choose between keeping him there or moving him out because the assumption had always been that dad would be staying.”
For the longest time, Linda was able to take great care of her father. “He needed help at a convenient time in my life,” Linda told us. “It was a period when I was between major jobs, working as a waitress to pay the bills. The schedule was flexible. I could visit him often to help around the house.”
However, larger changes eventually came. Linda started to notice a worrying decline in Jim’s health, especially with memory issues. When Linda finally found a permanent job, her new schedule was so busy that finding time to take care of her father’s increasing needs became extremely difficult.
“I was struggling to make consistent time to go visit him like I had the years prior,” she told us. “What was an ‘every other day’ situation turned into ‘weekends only’ at best, and I was even more worried when his health was starting to go downhill.”
With increasing health concerns and less time to address them, Linda decided it was time to seek help. Jim hadn’t gone to a doctor in years, so Linda opted to find a new primary care provider that would understand the situation.
“I didn’t want to make my dad move, but I didn’t want to leave him to fend for himself for entire weeks at a time,” Linda explained her fears. For her, not being able to check in daily meant that Jim was at greater risk of any number of accidents or health risks. She didn’t have many people to call upon to visit her father. Most of Linda’s family lived out of state, while her friends often had schedules just as busy as her own.
Their new clinician understood the situation and Jim’s desires very well. To bolster Linda’s ability to take care of her father’s health needs, even with a limited schedule, their clinician gave her access to CaringWire.
CaringWire partners with at-risk healthcare organizations to both empower unpaid family caregivers, as well as make them active participants in promoting aging in place. CaringWire offers a series of assessments of the caregiver’s situation, then connects the caregiver to relevant resources that can help alleviate stress points. Jim’s new clinician instructed Linda to complete any of the assessments that she felt were relevant to her father’s desires to stay in his home.
“I spent no more than 20 minutes filling out 4 of the questionnaires. It was really simple and easy, it was asking questions that felt very relatable to my situation,” Linda said. She utilized the guided support topics for finances, daily care, health and home safety respectively. Once she was done, CaringWire connected her with supportive guides that provided her options for dealing with the problems she faced.
“It was such a relief to see that CaringWire had both support and guidance for my specific problems,” she said. “After the assessment, I felt like I was ready to better understand the situation I was in.”
With her improved knowledge in the language of care, Linda was able to communicate what Jim needed most to the family clinician. Daily check-ins through the app allowed for adjustments in the care plan that were far more proactive and personalized.
Due to Linda’s lack of time and Jim’s increasing health needs, professional home care assistance was suggested to fill the caregiver role. CaringWire provides families with a list of certified home care agencies to choose from, which can be narrowed down by location. Linda was able to quickly connect with a service to provide Jim with an in-home aid to care for him in her absence.
“I was overjoyed to visit him on the first weekend and see that he was well taken care of,” Linda shared her experience. “The aid was excellent and professional. I knew he was in good hands.” Feeling more comfortable about her father’s safety, Linda was soon able to focus on her work once more, while Jim is happily living in his family home.