What a beautiful day! Jerry is celebrating his 72nd birthday with his family. Everyone is out in the backyard, enjoying a barbeque. Jerry is very proud of the work he put into the landscaping. It is a sanctuary according to his wife and his adult children. It is full of trees and blooming bushes. Minnie, his wife takes care of the flowers which complement the backyard’s beauty, adding color to make it pop.

Minnie noticed Jerry was a little sweaty. She knew he had done yard prep earlier, before the family arrived, and she was sure he had showered. It was a little warm outside today, so she offered him a cold drink and suggested he get into the shade.

Jerry told her to quit fussing, he was fine, he was still warm from the yard work he had done earlier in the day. Jerry typically shook things off because he was not one to say anything was wrong with him that he couldn’t handle.

His daughter asked him about one of the hydrangea shrubs he had along the fence, so Jerry suggested they take a walk over and have a look at it. It wasn’t blue or white, as you typically see, it was a pink color. He told her he put eggshells in the soil, and used a soil that altered the pH balance. He enjoyed talking about his garden and he offered to cut a few blooms for her to take home.

They walked back to the patio; his daughter noticed his breathing had become labored and he had put his arm up to his chest a couple times. After he sat down, she asked him if everything was alright. He took a drink of his water and told her, “Of course, I’m 72, everything is an effort.” He laughed it off, but his daughter wasn’t buying it.

Jerry’s daughter, Sheila, tracked down her mother Minnie in the kitchen and asked her how dad has been feeling. Minnie told her he says he is fine, but he hasn’t been to the doctor in at least a year. He is due for a physical later this month. Sheila told her he seemed out of breath after walking out to look at the yard with her, and he had put his arm up to his chest, in an unusual way, as if to relieve indigestion.

Minnie looked at her and said that earlier he looked a little sweaty, but just passed it off as being a warm day and said he was still feeling the effects of the work he had done earlier in the day.

Comparing notes, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and a cold sweat caused Minnie and Sheila to decide to talk with Jerry about his symptoms because they were sure looking like warning signs of a heart attack. Heart disease runs in his family, and he knows he is genetically predisposed. They decided to talk with Jerry to see if there was anything else going on after they explained their concerns to him.

Sheila googled warning signs of a heart attack so she could show him in black and white the warning signs:

• Chest discomfort. This can come and go.
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body.
• Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Sheila said, “This is important dad, we have observed a couple of these warning signs this morning. Mom observed signs that she did not even know were signs also.” Jerry was resistant at first, denying that anything could be wrong. As he read more about what Sheila had googled, he realized he was in danger. He had been having various signs of heart attack for the last couple days, but just thought he was working too hard, or had eaten something that didn’t agree with him.

There was no time to waste, birthday or not, this could not be overlooked and need to be dealt with before it became a dire emergency.

Not to alarm the family, Sheila and Minnie explained they were going to take Jerry to the Emergency Department (ED) because of some symptoms of heart attack that he had been having but not recognized. They asked the family to remain at the house and finish the barbeque. They would keep them posted and return as soon as possible.

At the ED it was determined that Jerry was just in time. He was admitted to hospital, they would place a couple of stents and save his life. Minnie was relieved, Sheila was too but knew this was a game changer for her parents.

Sheila contacted us to meet with her folks. They hired us after meeting and sharing their concerns. I was able to set up a care plan for Jerry’s return home based on the immediate concerns. I was also able to identify some items that would help in their planning for the future. It was important to them to get their affairs in order, and get educated on what they could encounter as they aged as well as fully prepare for in the years ahead. I introduced them to an elder law attorney who helped them with estate planning, and the attorney and I worked together to help them prepare for their long-term care, home care, and I recommended a trust officer to help them with the financial side of planning so they could age in place. A great partnership was formed removing the stress of care and the future for Sheila, Jerry, and Minnie.

If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at (920) 740-8441 or email us at sue@coylecaremanagement.com. We’ll be happy to assist!