A Patient Advocate's View

Emergency home health crunch due to Sandy

seniorhelpers Sandy strikes another blow on seniors and caregivers. Many home health   aides lost their homes and cars in Sandy. Some families, who are juggling work and caring for their parents just can’t get to the store and run over to their parents home, while negotiating with plumbers and electricians at their own storm ravaged place. The effects of Sandy just keeping coming, like the wave that rammed through the area over a month ago.

Last week, I went to meet a couple who required 24/7 care. Dad has Alzheimer’s and is in a wheelchair. Mom had two car accidents in as many days over the past weekend. First, she had a run in with a tractor-trailer who was in town for Sandy and wasn’t familiar with the roads. Then, she rammed into a cement divider because the street lights were out and she couldn’t see. To top it off, one of the usual aides for the couple couldn’t make it in to work because of damage to his home and car. Senior Helpers Caring in Home Companions came to the rescue. Laura Giunta, Director of Business Development said, “Senior Helpers provides companion care in homes and facilities throughout Long Island. Services include Cooking, Housekeeping, safety monitoring, errands, plant and pet care, transportation, socialization and integration. As a certified Senior Advisor, I assist families in getting to the next step regarding the care and safety of their loved ones.”  The agency arranged for one of the aides to drive Mom to the police station to get the report, then to take her to the Jewish Center where she teaches Hebrew.  Both the day and evening home care workers were well acquainted with the family dynamics between the couple and their adult children, who were also busy rebuilding their Sandy affected homes.  Kam, the aide who took on the extra shifts also lost his car in the storm. He was forced to travel two hours each way by bus to be there in time to coordinate getting Dad in and out of bed, which takes two people.  He said the agency supports him in making sure he has the resources to know what to do in any emergency.

Laura and I share another client in Nassau County. This couple, Dad with Dementia and Mom suffering with chronic back pain and a history of falling, decided to go to Florida instead of sitting around their gutted neighborhood. Also, their usual companion had been told by her doctor to stop work because she was pregnant and shouldn’t be in such a stressful environment. Mom had fallen in her home earlier in the week, so she reluctantly agreed to have a replacement aide come in for a few hours each day. The day before they were to get on the plane, the couple decided to go to the store for a few things.  About 5 PM I had a call from their daughter. Mom twisted her arm while opening the ice cream freezer and fell on her head. She was bleeding all over the place..and luckily conscious….and Dad was in the car! A customer, who was also a nurse, called their daughter and she called me.  I told her to call Melanie from Senior Helpers.  The agency had a companion drive over to the market to pick up Dad, take him home for dinner and get him settled. He was pretty upset and disoriented until she offered him ice cream.  The  police drove the car home.  Mom was in the hospital for 7 hours. They scanned her head, neck, arm and then finally super glued her head gash. Senior Helpers had a special aide pick her up, get her into bed and stay over night. The aide also went to the store to get those needed items the next day and got the couple on their way. They landed in one piece in Florida and are thankful that Senior Helpers was there for them.

Many of my clients are facing similar issues when their aides cannot make it to work or are resigning their posts. Going through the hiring process to replace a long time private aide can be traumatic for the patient as well as the family.  This is one of the reasons I prefer to use a reliable agency who can make sure there is always someone available. You can reach Laura at

Phone: 631-383-4341 516-750-0035

December 10, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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