Regardless of the disease, illness is never easy. That being said, it’s especially unbearable when your child is diagnosed with a terminal illness. My wife and I found out that our son had a rare kidney disease when he was an infant. The doctors told us that he’d need a lot of medical support, and that his life expectancy could be impacted if he didn’t respond to the chemotherapeutic treatments.
We joined our child in the hospital from day one. As I traveled through an emotional rollercoaster of anger, sadness and sheer exhaustion, I tried to stay strong for my family. Some days were easier than others, of course. There were actually be periods of time where I could work and hold onto some semblance of my former, simpler life—until everything was yanked away from me.
After practically living in hospitals with my son and wife for years, my boy was not responding to the medications and we were told to prepare for his potential passing. And then, he had what we can only explain as a miraculous recovery. For the first time in a long time, the three of us returned to our home. As we lived there, he received pediatric nursing care and home health support. In a comfortable and familiar setting, we found that he felt better, and I felt a lot better, too.
Inspired by my son and the wonderful care he received, I set out to provide the same opportunity to others. I thought I might try to establish a pediatric, in-home care company, but I soon found that I was too emotionally invested and exhausted to tackle the topic.
So, I set out to help another vulnerable population that was currently underserved—the geriatric population—with the Healthy Living Network.
Supporting the Team
When I decided to create a post-acute, in-home healthcare company, I knew that the first thing I had to get right was my team. The right people make it possible for the aging population to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
I wanted to hire team members who were passionate about respecting patients’ traditions and histories while providing exceptional clinical care that elevated the senior’s quality of life.
As you might have guessed, this was a huge undertaking. Finding people with the skills and disposition I needed wasn’t easy. It all started with creating interview questions that sought to discover a lot more about a candidate than their experience. I needed to quickly gain an understanding of a potential employee’s emotional intelligence and drive—along with their professional aspirations.
Slowly, my co-founder, Caroline Breeding, and I started to build a team. Once we had the right people on board, we realized another thing … Altruistic employees require specific management approaches. We had to develop a leadership style that was rooted in social connection, empathy and self-awareness. We had to connect with our team to understand their unique circumstances, motivators and dreams to give them the tools they needed to succeed.
Backed by the right people, I started to build out our offerings. Often, deciding to work with a healthcare company is a time-sensitive decision. Even if your family member has been declining slowly, there is generally an event that shows there is an immediate need for outside help.
When your dad gets lost walking around the neighborhood or your mom falls and breaks her hip, you have to quickly decide how you’re going to take care of them.
With this in mind, you pick out the option that seems to be the best fit. Unfortunately, what works now isn’t always best for your parents as they age—which is exactly why Healthy Living Network offers comprehensive support for your parents as time passes.
After an accident, our home health care team takes care of your loved one’s medical, social and rehabilitative needs. Once rehab is complete, our home care team can continue to help your relative with activities of daily living and other care aspects, like light housekeeping, mobility assistance, grocery shopping and medication reminders.
Towards the end of life, we have a hospice team that provides support in a variety of ways. With the care of a primary care physician, registered and licensed vocational nurses, chaplains, bereavement counselors and more, we help your loved one and your family understand the dying process in a way that’s individualized and comprehensive.
Coming Full Circle
Loss and decline aren’t components of normal aging. As surprising as it seems, fatigue, weakness and diminishing mental health aren’t consequences of growing older.
People have a common perception that aging equals decline, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, peoples’ bodies change as they age, but the process is gradual—and sometimes decline doesn’t show up at all.
I know this about the aging population, and I noticed it in my son, as well … When his health decreased, all people seemed to talk about was decline. This view felt wrong to me. Although he was seemingly moving on from this life, why wouldn’t we still focus on his growth and potential?
In my opinion, death, regardless of age at which it shows up, isn’t about devastation and suffering. The experience can be rich, dignified and full of eye-opening realizations. I truly care about the people I serve because I believe everyone has the right to have a good life and a good end—whether they’re one-years-old or 100-years-old.
When it comes to end-of-life care, America can do better. Age-related frailty, illness and approaching death are serious topics, but we need not fear them. Instead, we need to challenge common conventions and come up with solutions that enable well-being as people age.
Healthy Living Network considers what matters most to seniors and helps them achieve their goals while providing them with the medical help they need. Even as death approaches, we remain focused on living, not disease and decline. Although these elements are present, they don’t have to run counter to the human spirit.
With our help, individuals can receive end-of-life care in their homes, allowing them to retain independence and dignity with the support they need to conclude a meaningful life.