Karen and Cliff had been married for over 30 years. This was a second marriage for Karen who had one son and one daughter. Cliff had retired from the Army and worked in Civil Service. He and Karen enjoyed traveling and just spending time with each other no matter what they were doing.
A few years ago doctors discovered that the Agent Orange to which Cliff had been exposed in Vietnam had not only given him an annoying rash on his arm but was now causing his memory problems. Karen naturally took on the role as Cliff’s caregiver and that worked well for both of them for years. But professionals who have experience in counseling family caregivers know only too well the possible outcome of a situation like this. The stress of being the only or primary caregiver with little or no assistance often take its toll on the caregiver’s health.
Suddenly one evening Karen developed symptoms of heart problems and was rushed to the hospital. Luckily a good neighbor came over to stay with Cliff. Other neighbors pitched in to assist as they could with the knowledge that Karen’s son and daughter were arranging to fly into St. Louis and take over. At St. John’s Community Care’s office, Patti received a call from Karen’s daughter, Cindy, on Friday morning. She told Patti that she (Cindy) and her brother Monte were catching separate flights to St. Louis that afternoon so they could go to the hospital and find out more about Mom’s condition and what needed to be done for her. They were okay with providing care for Cliff over the weekend but Cindy was also aware that the neighbor who had so graciously stayed with Cliff needed to get back to her life and schedule. On Monday they needed someone to stay with Cliff so that Cindy and Monte could visit Mom and make plans for Cliff and Mom’s future. Patti assured Cindy that St. John’s Home Services could help. Cindy was able to give only partial information on Cliff because Mom had not given her updates on Cliff’s condition. Patti said that she would meet Cindy at 9 a.m. on Monday morning to complete the paperwork and to get more background on Cliff’s condition and abilities. At the same time a St. John’s caregiver was scheduled to arrive to help Cliff get started for the day. The caregiver would stay with him into the evening. St. John’s caregivers were with Cliff for a few days. This allowed Cindy and Monte to visit Mom, talk with her doctors, and visit Care Centers to find one for Cliff.
Late one afternoon, Cindy asked the St. John’s Caregiver to stay later so that Cindy and her brother could have a relaxing dinner at a restaurant. The Caregiver fortunately was happy to oblige, so she called St. John’s office to okay the extended shift.
Later that week Cliff was placed in a local Care Center with hopes that a room in a VA Home would soon become available. A few days later Karen came home from the hospital. Cindy stayed with her mom for a couple of days but needed to fly home to her family and business. Once again Cindy called asking that St. John’s send one of the ladies that had cared so well for Cliff to come help her mom. Two of Cliff’s former Caregivers were scheduled to help. They were also able to put Karen’s mind at ease that Cliff was happy and content during the time that she had been in the hospital and his familiar, good neighbor was not there. Kathy and her family had first-hand knowledge that “like a good neighbor, St. John’s does care!”