Robert and Susan Hanson: A 50-Year Tradition of Celebrating Each Day with a Kiss
SeniorBridge is proud to spotlight Robert and Susan, two SeniorBridge clients who recently celebrated nearly 50 years of marriage at home - despite the obstacles of chronic conditions including advanced Alzheimer's Disease and cancer.
Robert recalls being immediately attracted to Susan's intelligence as he watched her concentrating on a crossword puzzle at the tennis club to which they both belonged over 50 years ago. Eventually he learned she shared his passion for opera music and an epicurean taste for restaurants, and as their relationship matured, they began a simple tradition of starting each day together with a kiss. At their marriage ceremony, Robert vowed to remain by her side as long as they both lived, a promise he reiterated when Susan's mother was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
By the time Susan herself was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, Robert had also developed an illness with impaired cognitive function, putting him at risk of frequent hospitalizations. Multiple medications prescribed by numerous health providers and an increasingly rocky relationship with family members as their mental situations declined, further complicated their situation.
Doctors recommended an institution that could provide them both with 24-hour care. However, for the Hanson's, remaining at home where they could watch their opera DVD collection on their surround sound audio visual system and take their cherished daily walks through Central Park was of primary importance. Robert and Susan enjoyed all of the great composers, including Beethoven, and were often found on Saturday nights listening to orchestras performing their beloved music live at Lincoln Center. They were also quite fond of many other cultural activities such as going to the ballet on Sunday afternoons or taking in a Broadway matinee.
Compelled to help Robert honor his promise to his wife, but challenged by geographic and emotional distance, the childless couple's nieces and power of attorney worked with SeniorBridge to identify long-term options including trained, qualified live-in staff that could cost-effectively provide personal care, daily budget assistance and medication reconciliation at home as well as coordination of care and staff mentoring by a nurse and social worker care management team to accommodate preferences as well as needs.
"The Hanson's love to go on a lunch date at a restaurant every day, which can be expensive. But, these dates are important to them and by creatively managing household cash, we can help them continue to enjoy their favorite pastimes safely and responsibly," explains Sheila Evangelista, the Hanson's social work care manager.
As Susan became ill with cancer, the care management team observed the couple's strained relationship as well as the risk of burning out their dedicated home health aides with their increasing needs. Through personalized staffing solutions, SeniorBridge cost-effectively provided appropriate 24-7 care. Whether they were observing Susan's difficulty swallowing and subsequently buying a blender to accommodate her needs or working with Robert's stock broker to help him benefit from the daily stimulation of stock trading without breaking the bank, the Hanson's SeniorBridge care managers never stopped problem solving. According to Robert, their SeniorBridge team is considered to be a part of the family, going as far as saying, "they are like my grandchildren."
In fact, over the course of eight years, neither Susan nor Robert have been hospitalized. The Hanson's care managers, two out-of-state nieces, as well as multiple health and financial professionals including a primary care physician, oncologist, psychiatrist, nurse practitioner and visiting nurse, all stay in touch through a weekly email update provided by a SeniorBridge Care Manager about changes in mental status, medication adjustments and overall health.
Most importantly, the Hanson's continue to celebrate each day with a kiss.
Names have been changed to protect the Hanson's privacy.