I received a phone call by a daughter in Denver, crying, in panic, “Please can you go check on my dad, I know something is wrong.”
I agree to go, although I am feeling a bit apprehensive to interrupt a man’s life that I have never met. As I pull up to the house, I call the daughter so she can be on the phone while I walk into this unfamiliar home. She says, “You have to just walk in, the door is always open, and he will not hear you knock.” I am trying to open the door, but it is locked. I go around to the backyard and try to get in, and the back door is locked as well. I am now thinking to myself … I have got to get into this house to assure this man is OK.
I start trying to push the living room window open, I look to the right and notice the numbers on the house are not the same numbers the daughter gave me. I am trying to break into the wrong house!
I go down three houses, open the front door and start yelling his name; no answer. I go up the flight of stairs to his living room, a bit terrified not knowing what I will see. There he was, 89 years old, laying on the couch, mouth agape, snoring. After waking him, I learned he had fallen a few days ago. His ribs were black and blue. He has not gotten up much because of the pain and was starving, and needed assistance getting into the bathroom. We also helped him with a shower and put on some fresh clothes.
We enjoyed some McDonalds together and off to the doctors we went to find out he broke several ribs. As I spent this time with him, I learned he was a Korean War veteran and had lost his wife to Alzheimer’s.
I sent a referral over to Region 10 to see if they can help him with services. Quickly, they assessed him and provided Comfort Keepers an authorization with some home care hours. Once our new friend healed, the caregiver started taking him out of the house to do grocery shopping, errands, and just for fun.
They started going to the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, home of the Warrior Resource Center, on Thursday mornings for free coffee and doughnuts. With our help, our new friend was doing great and meeting other retired veterans at the Warrior Resource Center. During this time, Comfort Keepers helped him complete his veteran’s medical health benefits application. He is now receiving free home care through the VA and has a local social worker at the Montrose VA Clinic. Our friend is now 91. We just celebrated his birthday together. He and his caregiver have a healthy close relationship and he is strong as an ox with a heart of gold.
Montrose County has many great resources such as the ones we were able to use for our friend; Region 10, Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans, us (Comfort Keepers) as well as the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Montrose. More importantly, the people who work within the resources. These are trusted friends, loyal to our community, and will do anything and everything to make sure our senior citizens are cared and loved for.
Mindy Capuano is the general manager of Comfort Keepers.