Jim says the best part about being a participant in the SpiriTrust Lutheran® LIFE program is when he checks into the Franklin County LIFE Center at 8:45 a.m. every Monday through Friday. Twice a week Jim is joined by his wife Sandy. The couple has been program participants since April 2016. “It’s like family when we come here,” Jim exclaimed.
“This program is a ‘God send’ and I do not go a day without thanking God,” said Jim. “Everything is tops, an ‘A1’. Everyone is so willing to help. I have never heard a cross word from anyone. There just isn’t anything negative about the place.”
Both Jim and Sandy have their share of chronic health problems, but it was an auto accident in November of 2015 that really took its toll on their health. Following the accident Jim began his recovery in the hospital, but then was moved to a local skilled care center. He very much wanted to return home, but poor safety awareness and balance led to repeated falls and two brain bleeds. As much as his wife wanted to care for him, she knew she could not provide the necessary care at home.
Then, as Jim puts it, “Something wonderful happened. My son found the LIFE program.”
Because of the all-inclusive nature of the program both Jim and Sandy are now able to live independently in their home with the support of LIFE services. At the center they receive medical care, therapy services, vision, dental, hearing and podiatry care, medical supplies and equipment, laboratory and diagnostic services, prescription drugs and medication management, nutritional counseling and meals, plus recreational therapy, social services and behavioral health care.
Jim rides the bike for 30 minutes each day and practices standing on a special frame for another 30 minutes. He also does balance and strengthening exercises which have greatly improved his balance. As he knocked on wood, he proudly said, “I have not fallen in three months because of the strength that I now have.”
Sandy, who shared that she has heart problems, a bad back and is short-winded, also rides the bike as part of her therapy. Although she is very pleased with her therapy, it is the people and the camaraderie that impress her the most. “You never feel alone here. There are always people to talk to and you can always find something to do.”
Edna, a participant at the Cumberland County LIFE Center, says she “wouldn’t be alive today, if it wasn’t for the LIFE program.” Like Sandy and Jim, Edna says she “brags it up (LIFE) everywhere she goes. They are so good to me, they don’t neglect anything. They take very good care of me. And, my doctor will call me at home to see if I’m alright, even on the weekends.”
According to Edna, she was “in the hospital more than out” before she started coming to the LIFE Center. “I have had a lot of health problems”, explained the 76-year old cancer survivor. “I had cancer in four places including my kidneys which they had to remove. Because of that I go to dialysis three days a week before coming to the LIFE Center.”
On the days she has dialysis a LIFE Center bus transports Edna from her home to her appointment and then takes her to the LIFE Center for a few hours before returning her home later in the afternoon. “Dale, my bus driver, takes very good care of me. He helps me in and out of my house with everything I need to take with me to dialysis and then picks me afterward and takes me to the center. I wouldn’t trade him in for any other bus driver.”
When Edna is at the LIFE Center she said she enjoys joining in the activities, playing bingo, making crafts and having lunch. “Coming to the center is good for socialization.”
While Jim, Sandy and Edna still have sharp minds, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Sonny, a participant at the Cumberland LIFE program. “My dad has been widowed since 2006,” said Scott . “Before my mom passed she had been telling us for a few years that dad was experiencing dementia. In November of 2015, he had a stroke which left him paralyzed on the left side and enhanced his dementia.
“My dad was very adamant about going home. He had been in several rehabs. He did not want to be in a facility. Constantly, he would ask, ‘when can I go home’,” emphasized Scott. “Knowing that he could go home was the motivating factor for him. Two years ago I didn’t think he would make it this long. It is just amazing what has happened since he enrolled in the program in March of 2016.
“The LIFE program has been a life saver for everyone. Because of the program my dad is able to live with my brother, Steve, who is his primary caregiver. He receives the care he needs during the day at the LIFE Center when both my brother and I are at work and then has the support of CNAs evenings and weekends,” said Scott. “All the people who care for him are very good people. They care deeply about him and make sure his needs are met. The bottom line for us is that dad wanted to get home and we were able to honor that wish because LIFE keeps him at home.”