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Posted by Positive Aging SourceBook on 08/28/2015

Knowing When to Ask for Help

Knowing When to Ask for Help

It is not always easy to ask for help. For some, this stems from a desire to maintain an independent lifestyle or a hesitancy at the thought of burdening others. Linda and Chuck Holliman experienced this firsthand when their parents faced health difficulties later in life. What they learned, thanks to the support of Old Dominion Home Care, is just how beneficial a home care service can be for all parties involved when it comes to security and peace of mind.

As longtime residents of Mount Vernon, Va., Linda’s family has a legacy of assisting others in the area. Her father, a real estate developer, conceived Mt. Vernon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, selling his idea to the county and eventually building and operating the center. “He had other projects, but the nursing center was always the most challenging business to manage because it is critical 24/7,” said Linda.

Linda also worked in the family business for 22 years, which is now headed by her brother. Over the years, their family grew and Linda’s parents took on the role of grandparents of five and eventually great-grandparents of four.

At the age of 80, Linda’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “My father was able to take care of my mother for several years; she did not wander and retained her endearing personality,” she said. After a fall and hip replacement, however, she was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis and it became clear she needed constant supervision to prevent falls and breaks.

“We began to need people in the home to help, first overnight and then some during the day,” said Linda. “By the last two years of my mother’s life, we needed someone around the clock since my father had advanced arthritis in his back and had had a couple of small strokes.”

They turned to Old Dominion Home Care, a family-owned business that offers companion and personal care in addition to transportation, respite care, hospital sittings and facility care. With the mission of providing peace of mind and allowing families throughout the Northern Virginia region more quality time together, caregivers assist with various tasks, from laundry and meal preparation to medication reminders and bathing.

Soon after Linda’s mother passed away, her father moved to Paul Spring Retirement Community in Alexandria, Va., where he was able to live independently until his severe arthritis and a heart condition limited his mobility and balance. The family again turned to Old Dominion for caregivers, at first parttime and then full-time toward the end of his life. Linda and her brother visited their father each day and forged strong relationships with the caregivers. For the family, the evident professionalism, compassion and attentive care of the staff were a blessing.

The entire home care team works collaboratively to best support families, from the scheduler who finds the right caregiver, to the nurses overseeing the case and the readily available owners.

Seeing the quality care Linda’s parents received led her husband, Chuck, to eventually seek the same services for his own loved ones.

As an only child, he had tried for many years to convince his parents to move from Oklahoma to be closer to his family. Shortly after his father, a former funeral home owner and operator, turned 90, Chuck’s mother reached out to her child for help.

“My mother was a strong woman and wanted to take care of him and their home without any assistance,” said Chuck. “Then she called one night and said ‘I just can’t do this anymore; we’re going to have to come to you.’”

Linda and Chuck proceeded to move his parents into the same community where her father was residing. Although they enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle for some time, Chuck’s father eventually needed hospice care, and Old Dominion worked with the hospice company as a team in providing the best care possible. A year after Chuck’s father passed away, his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; she also had macular degeneration and her vision was greatly diminished.

“After her cancer diagnosis, Chuck’s mother had aroundthe- clock help with Old Dominion,” said Linda. “We all worked together; family, our parents, and their caregivers. As it turned out, it was both of our parents’ last year and those relationships were very precious to us all.”

Although Linda and Chuck endured the loss of three loved ones in the short period of 20 months, they are forever grateful to the Paul Spring staff, and even more so to the Old Dominion Home Care caregivers who allowed their parents to remain in their community.

“During that time, the situation for both sets of parents was fluid. There were hospital stays and more complicated outpatient care. At those times, the caregivers always pitched in to help the family respond to new challenges as the parents’ health became more fragile,” said Linda. “It was especially comforting to know that our parents had familiar ‘friends’ whom they recognized and trusted at night, when there was more confusion.”

“The caregivers knew what they were doing,” added Chuck. “They were trained well and several of the young women we had have gone on to nursing school. Old Dominion consistently provided bright, caring people.”

It was over the span of nearly five years that each of Linda and Chuck’s parents had received the care and support they needed from the same reliable home care company, and all lived well into their 90s. By knowing when to ask for help, the couple found compassionate assistance that enabled them to enjoy and treasure each of their parents as they neared the end of their long and rich lives.

By Lauren Searson

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