Health Journal TV: Lifecare planning
Posted on 18 July 2016
Eagleview West helps with lifecare choices
By DAVE REESE
Montana Health Journal
When Dorothea Armstrong had a stroke after brain surgery, she and her family had to start making some tough questions.
Where would their mother live? What kind of care would she receive, and what would it cost? These kinds of questions were answered by Jennifer Crowley, a registered nurse who designs lifecare plans for families.
Crowley, owner of Eagleview West Life Care planning, helped Armstrong and her family make the transition from the rehab center to Wel-Life in Kalispell, an assisted-living home. Crowley helped Armstrong and her family devise a plan where they knew how much assisted living would cost and what kind of care their mother would need. Crowley even helped bring in personal items from Armstrong’s home so that her apartment at Wel-Life was familiar and comforting.
Jennifer Crowley, left, of Eagle View West
Armstrong, 78, could have stayed in her home, but the family would have had to pay for 24-hour in-home care — an option that was too expensive and maybe not where their mother should be at that stage in her life.
Dorothea, or “Dotty” as she’s known to her friends, was honest with herself after she had the stroke. “The stroke really stopped me in my tracks. The first thing I did was turn in my driver’s license,” she said. “I’m just very realistic.”
Crowley helps families in big ways and small ways; from helping transition seniors from living at home to assisted living, and carrying out medical plans. “I don’t have a clue what I’d have done without her,” Dotty said of Crowley. Crowley collaborated with a local moving company to bring personal effects over to Wel-Life from Dotty’s homes.
Crowley said her business of providing life-care plans for families grew out of the insurance industry’s litigation on how much an estate should have to spend on senior care.
Crowley now works with a wide range of medical and health specialists to devise life care plans that families can use as their loved one transitions in their later years of life.
Sometimes when she sees clients, it’s after they’ve been struck with an illness or injury that drastically changes their life. Those changes then affect the person’s family.
“You don’t realize how vulnerable people are until they’re at a critical point,” she said. “You’re dealing with people who have big issues to face … and a lot of people ignore that. I try to educate people about what is out there.”
Sometimes she works as a mediator among family members to help them decide critical issues they are facing.
Montana is ranked fifth in the nation for the amount of people age 65 and older. With seniors living much longer after chronic illnesses, families face life-changing choices for their parents and loved ones. When families choose to have their loved ones remain at home, a personal-care attendant is usually brought in. Crowley helps oversee at-home caregivers, making sure the client is getting the care they need, or in worse case scenarios, acting as a backstop against fraud. “People are putting a lot of trust in those who are entrusted with their care,” Crowley said.
Crowley also helps families navigate the world of Medicare and Medicaid and the myriad choices facing seniors. “I’m surprised at how complicated it is,” she said.
Armstrong, who has lived in Kalispell for over 50 years, now enjoys the life she has and the friends she’s made at Wel-Life. She has made the adjustment from living on her own, to living with others in an assisted-living setting.
“There are seven billion people on earth and I must be one of the most fortunate people in the world,” Dotty said. “Another day I’m given, I just thank God.”
Dotty was also blessed with the gift of being honest with herself — something she’s taught her children over the years. “It’s important for any human being to recognize and accept where you are,” she said. “If you don’t know who or where you are, how can you improve?”
Crowley, who works in the intensive-care unit of Kalispell Regional Medical Center, said her business keeps her in touch with valued members of society. “I really just enjoy taking care of our seniors,” she said. “They are our most wise members of society. I learn something every time I work with someone new.”
While her work with seniors is not as intense as what she sees in the intensive-care unit, Crowley sees her work as being just as important. “The intensity that I see with seniors is about the core of the human experience,” she said. “In the ICU it’s in your face, life or death.”
Crowley is building her business on the need for helping seniors. “It’s a need that is almost unrecognized,” she said. “If we all actually took time and spent time with people, it might just change our community. We all need to do a better job of taking care of our elders.”
Crowley it’s important for families who are beginning to face these decisions begin to make lifecare plans for their parents or loved one. “Get ready now,” she said. “Don’t wait.”
On the Web: eagleviewwest.com