Welcome Wisdom

More insight and knowledge we have garnered from our clients

by Gail Arno, CMC, ECM Director of Care Management

We approach our clients with our eyes open and with a whole person-holistic mind. The aging process isn’t just about managing the body and all parts included but perhaps it is even more so about the psycho-social side of aging. So when we begin our working relationships with our clients, we are always trying to understand not just this current portion of their lives but all that brought them to where they currently might be in their life.

Last month we introduced you to Susan, she came to Elder Care Management amidst crisis, and we jumped in headfirst… supporting her from every urgent angle and then getting to know and understand her life history. As we peeled back the many layers of this unique person, we found that Susan had a history of poorly constructed decision-making based more on emotions and feelings rather than factual evidence. Communication and the ability to discuss a problem, dissect it, and then construct a plan to work through those problems, was just not a part of her life experience. Susan was clinically obese and struggled with maintaining a healthy weight to support her well-being. She continually grappled with numerous poor decision making and her weight profoundly impacted her physical health. We spent effort obtaining a health-conscious chef, a dietitian to talk with her about healthy meal choices, and even attempted a trainer to work with her on formulating a regular exercise regime. All efforts were initially accepted with enthusiasm, and yet rarely executed. Once again we were able to see a lifelong coping mechanism at play, Susan would agree to what the experts suggest but then refuse to comply and simply revert back to her comfort level and habits of old. Susan often fought against the tide, derailed efforts put into place for her well-being, and impeded any progress for improvement. Our job was challenging, to be proactive, supportive, consistent, and resource abundant, to help lead her into an easier and calmer time in her life. It was our mission to understand Susan better and to serve her the best we possibly could. Everyone involved, Susan included, ultimately benefited.

We spend lofty time and energy overcoming all of the obstacles that each of our client’s journeys put in front of us including addressing things such as poor communication skills, to successfully create the best safety net possible for our clients. Procuring oxygen, delivering medical equipment, tracking down new doctors and specialists are all principal elements of our job. Yet seeing the whole person, not just at this moment in time but an understanding of their life history, honoring their experiences, and acknowledging who they are allows us to do a better job as we support them with our care management efforts. This isn’t always easy, often it can be downright challenging, but we wouldn’t have it any other way as we are honored with each effort we take on and with each client we serve. Next month we will illustrate the complex challenges that Susan’s underdeveloped family support systems, seriously strained relationships, and even fewer established informal support systems impacted her quality of life and aging journey.

*names have been changed to protect the client’s identity