70-year-old Clara was living her best life after moving to a retirement community a few years prior. She led an active and social lifestyle that kept her in the best mental and physical shape of her life. Everything changed when an unexpected respiratory infection left Clara with a severe case of pneumonia. Her family visited as often as they could to help nurse her back to health. Clara’s daughter would often bring her 3-year-old to visit with grandma, but the visits were short as she was eight months pregnant and working full-time. Clara’s son couldn’t visit as much since he lived a few hours away, but he called as much as he could.
After her lengthy stay in the hospital, Clara was up walking the halls and eagerly preparing to be discharged back to her home when she suddenly had a change in her level of consciousness. She was unresponsive and a feeding tube was placed. Extensive testing determined the change was caused by the herpes virus crossing the blood brain barrier. The family was provided with no prognosis and little information. Clara was transferred to a sub-acute facility for therapy she was unable to participate in. Her eyes were opened but she was non-verbal, incontinent, unable to ambulate and could not express her needs in any way.
I was hired by the family to perform an assessment to rule out her condition to be possibly related to over-medication or a medication reaction. It was my opinion the client may be severely brain damaged with no potential for improvement. Clara’s children were devastated as they did not believe their mom would want to live with such a poor quality of life. They weren’t sure what to do to care for her in this state or how to get her the services she needed. Their distance and busy lives only complicated things, and because Clara’s condition was so unexpected there were no legal documents in place.
I worked with both of Clara’s children to schedule an outpatient neurology consult they could both be there for. Clara was transported by ambulance and the family and I met her at the neurologist office. The neurologist took his time and was patient and compassionate with the family. He reviewed their potential options with them and gave his professional opinion. It was determined that Clara would be taken home on hospice and the feeding tube would be discontinued. I connected the children with a reputable elder law attorney to petition the court for guardianship. I then helped them find a quality hospice agency and a quality caregiving agency to give the children peace of mind that their mother was well cared for. A few weeks later, Clara passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by her family.
Emergency situations can leave families and caregivers feeling unprepared and overwhelmed, especially if the loved one can’t speak for themselves. Aging Life Care Consultants can guide you through your options and help guide you to the best solution that fits your loved one’s needs. For more information, please call us at (317) 300-5454 or contact us below.