Growing up I remember repeatedly hearing from my Dad the statement that everything happens for a reason. As I got older I was able to appreciate that statement. Time and time again, I'd find I could "connect the dots" to past events and present situations.
In this special post from the Friendship Centers' own, Susan Neaves, the connection started with a need to find a better care solution for her mother. Years later that initial introduction brought Susan full circle, as a respected staff member for the Friendship Centers.
What do you do when your parents live far away and insist on remaining independent?
Here's the scenario: My father’s health was failing, as he drifted slowly into dementia. Then came the day when he went into the nursing home. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought,
"Thank God, he’s safe!"
That peace lasted only seconds when I made one of those sounds that sucks all the air out of the universe, as I realized,
"Oh no, what am I to do with my Mother?"
I was living in California and she was in the Sarasota/Venice area. We couldn't have more distance between us, or tougher travel time in an emergency.
My mother never learned to drive. She took lessons, but turning right once she never came out of the turn and continued into a tree. That was it...she gave up. She was living at home, with severe spinal stenosis and she was alone, without my father around. She had company with her three Yorkshire terriers, but they weren't going to be much help from a caregiving perspective.
Knowing my mother's love for English muffins and cheese, I had visions of her eating just that and only that. I called daily to check on her, but had a pretty busy work life, home life and a three hour time difference to deal with. I had to find a better solution, not just for my mother, but for my own peace of mind.
So, I let my fingers do the walking, checking Google for “elder care” by zip code.
Up popped what appeared to be a nice organization, the Senior Friendship Centers. I had to call and explain the situation, since Mom didn’t think she had any problems. They faxed me paperwork for Mom to complete. I filled out most of the papers and prepared them for her signature. I FedExed them to her home and asked her to sign and mail back.
Within a week or so, an Elder Care Specialist from SFC Venice called to make an appointment for a visit. They visited, helped her get the grab bars installed in the bathrooms and made certain the walkways in the house were cleared for her ease of movement. They even had an FAH (Friendship at Home) caller check in with her once a week.
This made her happy and me comfortable with her care level and it seemed like a dream. Everything came full circle when I moved to the area to care for my Mom until she passed away. And again full circle, when I stepped into my current role two years ago as the HR Director for the Friendship Centers.
Cleaning out a drawer recently I found the business card for SFC showing the name of the elder care specialist in Venice who I originally spoke with. It simply made me smile. I can speak from personal experience, everyone who works at the Friendship Centers cares deeply for the clients we serve and as both a client and now a staff member, I want to say "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."
About Susan Neaves
Susan Neaves is Director of Human Resources for the Friendship Centers and is based out of the Sarasota campus.
Photo credit: © Melpomene - Fotolia.com