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Aging Safely at Home




When 73-year-old Annabelle first began receiving care at Amoskeag Health, she was missing many of her appointments; she was suffering from depression and loneliness; and she was in severe pain. Her provider referred her to a geriatric care coordinator (GCC) for assistance.


One phone call set the two on a life changing journey of health and connection.


Shortly after facilitating care for Annabelle, her GCC went on vacation. It was 7 PM, just after dinner, when she received a phone call from Annabelle. She picked up, worried that something was wrong.


“I just need someone to talk to,” cried Annabelle.


Once she found out that her GCC was on vacation, Annabelle apologized and almost hung up, but her GCC stopped her. You see, they share Filipino heritage; family is everything in their culture, and Annabelle’s GCC understood the importance of being there for her. That simple decision to not hang up the phone transformed Amoskeag Health from just another doctor’s office to a place where Annabelle felt genuine care and concern. She gained an integral support system.

 

Over the next two years, her GCC built a trusting relationship with Annabelle. She helped her develop a schedule to maintain necessary appointments and medications; navigate insurance to reduce a $3,000 medical bill to a few hundred dollars; and acquire a rollator, a special walker to help manage her pain and maintain her independence.


When Annabelle’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, her GCC explained available mental health services and reduced Annabelle’s stigma about seeking help. She taught her that counseling was a support service that she deserved, not a weakness.


In fact, this trusting relationship may very well have saved Annabelle’s life. After an extensive back surgery in the fall of 2020, Annabelle wanted to leave the rehab center against medical advice. She refused to listen to the doctors or nurses. She started to become frantic, worried about her homebound husband. But when Annabelle's GCC volunteered to check on her husband, Annabelle stayed and made a full recovery before returning home.


She often expresses her gratitude. “I wish you were my daughter,” she tells her GCC.

Those words mean the world to Annabelle’s GCC. It’s her responsibility to fill many different roles for her patients. But at the end of the day, being their family is her favorite role of all. And we know that it’s theirs, too.

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