A personal story of nurturing elder care...
A Kay Sylvestre Story
A tried and true case of quality care with heart and patience is how this story goes. Let us start with notice that elder care is not an easy process; between prolonging a rapidly changing quality of life, shrinking independence, administering medical care, managing medication and administration, facilitating activities of daily living and all topped with financial considerations. The balance of such priorities leaves many families with daily challenges and uncertainties. This story we are about to share (with the family’s permission) is one that many can relate to and beyond—we stress that there are proper resources for support.
DOB: 2/15/21, 96 years of age, from the Plymouth, NH region
Her Story goes like this...
Kay lived independently in her home, hosting holiday visits with her family. She walked 5 miles a day with her younger neighbor (in the summer of 2016, her neighbor was 74 yrs old). Even at her age, Kay was viewed as an “on the go” person, but she always had a slightly nervous and anxious personality and, due to this, Kay had a history of taking a prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Her family will tell you that between the medication and the walking, Kay managed her restlessness.
In the fall of 2016, her children noticed that she was becoming more forgetful and that some confusion would start in the evenings. However, with her age, those symptoms could be considered a new norm. This encouraged the family to spend time with Mom over the holidays at her home, rather than have her travel, allowing them to view her health and routine. During this time, they were still seeing that Kay was more agitated during the evenings, awake and restless.
Then at Christmas, Kay became acutely ill with an upper respiratory infection. She was quickly hospitalized and nearly died. She was rapidly declining with respiratory failure and was prescribed three different antibiotics due to the infection being resistant to the antibiotics. She also developed new complications affecting her heart. When she was not sedated, she was pulling off her oxygen, getting out of bed and falling, resisting care, and demonstrating psychotic behaviors. She was then prescribed a variety of medications to sedate her in order to keep her compliant while receiving necessary treatment and to keep her safe from physical injury.
Over time, with hospital care, Kay’s infection began to respond to treatment. Due to her overall deterioration, the hospital’s recommendation was full-time Nursing Care in a facility. Kay’s children looked at several facilities close to them (her son, Peter, lives in Maine and her daughter, Karen, lives in Alton, NH). They learned that some of the recommended facilities would not accept Kay’s admission, for many facilities will not accept elder patients with psychotic behaviors. Both Peter and Karen did not “feel good” about any of their local options, many of the facilities were cold, big and institutional. They then remembered the reasons why Mom (Kay) had liked Peabody Home, where Dad was 10 years before. [Kay had brought her husband, Mark, to Peabody Home for the day program then eventually had admitted him when he needed more care.] Remembering that Mom trusted the staff at Peabody Home to provide care and treatment for Dad (Mark) as an individual, and not a diagnosis, a tour was scheduled. The Peabody Home staff accepted their immediate need with priority and ease, Kay’s family felt “warmed” and welcomed by the staff reception. Peabody Home was the place to be.
The Peabody Home Difference.
Kay arrived on January 19, 2017 via ambulance on a stretcher, barely conscious. She had been sedated prior to leaving the hospital. She remained semi-conscious for the rest of the day. The Staff at Peabody Home immediately worked very hard from day one to improve Kay’s quality of life. This is the standard culture of care that Peabody Home is built upon.
As the Peabody Home’s Care Team begin to wean the sedation medications out of her system, the team began to understand right away, as the Hospital reported, how very difficult it was to keep her physically safe. Shifting the focus of care to building trust with Kay was going to be necessary to wean her off the medication. It became a priority to have Kay feel safe and to trust these “new to her” care providers all while redirecting her anxiety. The staff, including members of each department, took turns to be with Kay for more than a week until the medication wore off and she could safely ambulate on her own.
Working with Kay’s family, who emphasized it would be Kay’s goal to go outside for walks again, the Care Team made the necessary shift to make this the goal for Kay’s wellness and quality of life. In addition to facilitating her activities of daily living, Kay was back to walking outside in just over 30 days.