“I don’t need a sitter!”

Tom and Sarah had run several successful businesses in their life together and had a lovely home with a generous garden and landscaping they both liked to work in. As they got older, however, Tom became more unsteady on his feet. He was less able to keep up with the gardening, and Sarah had health issues that made it difficult for her to help. One day Sarah came back from a lunch with friends and found Tom had fallen in the yard. Afterward she tried hiring people to stay with him when she went to the doctor, but he always fired them, saying “I don’t need a sitter!”

Sarah was becoming quite distressed. She had doctor appointments she had to go to, but it was increasingly unsafe to leave Tom alone. After he fell a second time and hurt his back, she decided she had to try a different approach, so she called the local Thoughtful Engagement® program. As she talked with the Thoughtful Engagement Coordinator, a particular specialist came to mind: A man who also enjoyed gardening. They decided to introduce him as someone Sarah had met at the garden shop.

Sarah was there when the specialist first came to visit. The three of them talked and toured the garden, sharing tips for various pests and how to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder. Tom and the specialist started talking about a few projects Tom had in mind, and the specialist suggested they tackle them together. Tom was amenable.

They began by hanging new bird feeders. Then they set up plant lights in the basement for starting seedlings. The specialist even mounted a tank on the back of Tom’s golf cart so he didn’t have to drag the hose around and risk losing his balance.

In the meantime, Sarah was able to keep up with her doctor appointments and handle some health issues she had been putting off. (It turned out she had a small cancer. Fortunately, it was detected early enough that the tumor was removed before it metastasized, and she was able to nip the last of it with chemo.) Now Sarah uses the specialist’s visits to go out with her girlfriends. She even went back to playing golf in a local women’s league because she feels secure that Tom will be safe and well cared for in a dignified way.

“Like a lot of caregivers, I was ignoring my own health because I was so worried about Tom’s. Thank goodness I found the Thoughtful Engagement program! They gave Tom companionship in a way where he could retain his dignity and I was able to do what I needed to do to get healthy again.”
—Sarah, Tom’s wife

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