Like Part of the Family: Navigating Alzheimer’s with a Care Manager

Joe was sixty-five when he received a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The signs had been there for several years, but each individual symptom seemed minor. Joe lived alone so the day-to-day decline went unnoticed. He often lost his keys, forgot to make payments, and got upset over simple things. It wasn’t until he started to repeatedly forget to pay for items at the store, resulting in shoplifting arrests, that Joe’s sister, Brenda, who lived out of state, became concerned enough to contact Seniors At Home.

senior with care manager

I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I lived so far away and Joe wanted to stay in his house, but I knew Joe needed help,” shared Brenda.

Seniors At Home’s Center for Dementia Care did an assessment of Joe’s abilities and needs, and it was quickly determined that Joe needed someone to help manage the details of his day to day life. He was matched with Sydney Griffin, a professional Care Manager at Seniors At Home

Care Managers are the Conduit for Communication

A Care Manager is there to protect and support a senior’s choice to maintain the best level of independence, safety, and quality of life. As experienced professionals, Care Managers see the big picture in complicated situations and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. They are the conduit that connects seniors to necessary community resources, and eases communication between families, doctors, and everyone involved.

Families that live at a distance, like Joe’s, often have a difficult time managing the care of their loved ones. The support of a Care Manager gives families a knowledgeable point person who is coordinating local support and medical assistance and, most importantly, is truly looking out for their family member.

Another Family Member

Sydney created a community of support for Joe to help him live independently for as long as possible. She arranged weekly visits with Joe and phone check-ins with Brenda to keep her in the loop. She connected with his property manager to make sure rent was paid, and arranged for in-home care and support services to help with cleaning, cooking, shopping, and occasional meal delivery. In addition, to keep Joe socially engaged, Sydney arranged for a friendly visitor volunteer to take Joe to the occasional music event, art gallery opening or other community event.

Joe could no longer drive, so Sydney arranged for transportation to essential medical appointments. She also connected Joe’s family with the Alzheimer’s Association in their local area for additional assistance and support. Sydney even attended two of his court dates for his prior shoplifting episodes. Joe frequently told Sydney, “I appreciate all that you do to help me!”

Sydney navigated Joe’s health, safety, and wellbeing for five years, allowing him to live independently in his home. She truly become an extension of his family. Unfortunately, as Joe’s conditioned worsened, the time came for some difficult decisions.

Saying Goodbye

As Joe’s health began to decline, Sydney ultimately assisted Joe and his family with a cross-country move to be close to Brenda. It was the best move for Joe, so that he could get the additional support he needed in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.

However, it is extremely challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s to travel. This is where the Sydney’s experience and skills as a Care Manager came in—she provided the much-needed needed guidance and support Brenda required to help Joe through the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of his move.

Sydney helped Joe tie up the loose ends of his life on the West Coast, and coordinated volunteers with the airline and bus line to ensure Joe’s safe travels. Even though she was many miles away, Sydney remained in close contact with Joe and Brenda throughout the rest of Joe’s life.

Brenda says, “Without Sydney, we would have been completely lost. She made sure that Joe’s life was full and meaningful until the end, and I’m forever grateful for that.”

Joe’s situation is not uncommon. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Many of them are living alone and could benefit from the assistance of a Care Manager, while others have family who could use the additional support.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, reach out to Seniors At Home for a consultation—415-449-3700.

Seniors At Home is a division of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, a trusted nonprofit institution that has been providing care since 1850. Our services are funded by fees and by donations for those who cannot afford the full cost of care for these critical services.

If you would like to make a donation, please contact Barbara Farber at, 415-449-3858, or click here to give online.