Age: 80 

Issue: Breathing difficulties and spousal home care

Chronic Illness: Heart failure due to underlying heart disease

Result: “I really didn’t think I could get better.  The Nurse Coach just did what was needed every step of the way – from early on getting my breathing much better – to helping me regain some energy by just increasing my walking every day to my tolerance level.”

Joe is 80 years old and is a retired engineer who struggles with heart failure due to underlying heart disease. Recently his breathing has been very difficult and was causing his wife Marsha to worry. While at the doctor’s office, Marsha learned about the HealthyLifetime program and called us to learn more. She enrolled him in our program.

Marsha filled out the initial surveys for Joe and set up the appointment for the virtual visit with the Nurse Coach. At the first visit, the Nurse Health Coach understood that Marsha was ‘taking on Joe’s care’ – and immediately worked to help both Joe and Marsha engage in the discussion – and to help set up a method to use Joe’s medicines and breathing supports to significantly ease his breathing symptoms. By the next video session one week later, Joe was breathing easier and could more fully engage in the discussion.

Marsha told us “I was really worried and I knew I was hovering over Joe which he hates. Mary (the Nurse Coach) understood that and knew Joe had to get his breathing better so he could be part of the program. That was hard for me – but Mary knew what to do to help us.”

Our Nurse Health Coach gently guided Marsha to let Joe tell us his story. She understood that Joe was always independent, a retired engineer who loved to tinker with tools and machines, and who did not like Marsha’s oversight. But he also wanted to ‘do his part of the household chores’ and felt he was becoming a burden to her. Mary worked with Joe, and with her guidance, he was able to point out his most important goals – to keep his breathing good and to regain some physical strength so he could not only help Marsha but get back to the garage to do his tinkering.

Working with Each Patient’s Personality

Joe told us “Look – this was hard. I really didn’t think I could get better. Mary just did what was needed every step of the way – from early on getting my breathing much better – to helping me regain some energy by just increasing my walking every day to my tolerance level. Eventually she encouraged me to talk with my doctor who let me work with a physical therapist who understands heart problems and who also worked with me at our home. Because of my engineering background, Mary knew I would really take to tracking my meds, my fluid and salt intake, and also do breathing exercises to understand how to keep my breathing easy.”

Marsha was important in Joe’s story. Mary understood that they wanted this to be a partnership, but Joe’s symptoms and moods were pushing her to ‘take more charge’ of the decisions than either she or Joe liked. Mary guided them both to fully understand this part of their relationship and helped them get better ‘balance’ by doing the video sessions with Joe at times, Marsha at times, and then working with them together. It was a matter of understanding who to work with and when.

Becoming Himself Again

Marsha says “Mary, through our sessions, helped me see how my worries about Joe’s health and decline were affecting me and also Joe’s sense of himself. She knew that it would take time for Joe to actually get better before we could get back to a comfortable place in our relationship. But she worked with me too, so I was able to take part and slowly give Joe back the reins in his life.”