David Ito is a loving husband and father to two children,
and he has a full-time job. But David is also the full-time caregiver for his
mother, Sakae, who has Alzheimer’s disease and lower back pain that has limited
her mobility. In 2016, David and his family moved into her home so that they
could more easily help with her care.
Sakae wanted to continue living at home as long as she could,
not wanting to be a burden on her son and his family. While she continued to
teach Japanese dancing at her home, she eventually needed to hire in-home care.
As her Alzheimer’s advanced, it became more difficult for David to take his
mother to doctor appointments.
“It was just a two-minute drive, but it was a big trip to
take her, even just for a blood test,” David explains. “Taking her to the car,
putting her in the car, driving, and once she arrives, we need to take her out
of the car – it just tired her out.”
It was around this time that her primary care physician
recommended Iyashi Care. “I didn’t know what palliative care was, but I thought
I’d give a try,” he says. “In fact, it actually was the perfect timing to be
introduced to Iyashi Care.”
David’s first contact with the Iyashi Care team was over the
phone with the social worker.
“We talked for over 45 minutes about her conditions, but
what was surprising was we got the chance to talk about what our family’s goals
for her care looked like,” David recalls.
After their initial phone call, Dr. Yanami, one of Keiro’s
Iyashi Care physicians, started to schedule home visits with Sakae to begin
building their relationship as doctor and patient. Initially, Sakae often
refrained from openly expressing her concerns with Dr. Yanami – but over time,
the comfort of being at home made it easier for Sakae to more openly
communicate her symptoms and feelings. As Dr. Yanami and Sakae continued strengthening
their relationship, he was also able to better communicate with Sakae’s primary
care physician, allowing her to stay at home more often due to fewer
For David, the Iyashi Care team provided him with emotional
support and peace of mind – always just a phone call away if he needed to check
in or ask about his mother’s condition, even while at work.
“I also had my own health issues, so it was so helpful to
have them around,” he says.
The social worker on the Iyashi Care team referred the
family to useful caregiver resources, and helped create a Physician Orders for
Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form that lays out Sakae’s preferences in
case of an emergency where she cannot articulate them herself.
One morning, David found his mom looking a little different
than usual, and she had fallen off the bed. In a panic, he immediately called
the Iyashi Care team. Luckily, Dr. Yanami was close by and arrived quickly at
their home, preventing a visit to the hospital ER. Avoiding the hospital visit
was Sakae and her family’s wish as well.
Sakae had suffered a minor stroke, and Dr. Yanami
recommended that she be transferred from Iyashi Care to a hospice program.
“It’s all a blur to be honest: I had to care for my mom, I
had to work, and I had to take care of myself and my family. It was a busy time,”
says David. “Looking back, a lot of it I can’t remember in what order it happened.
But I know one fact, and that is this program was so helpful. Their service is
so detailed, and thorough.”
Most of all, David says the best part was that the team
listened to him and Sakae. “They listened to what we wanted, what we needed,
and that was just a relief.”
More about Iyashi Care:https://www.keiro.org/what-we-do/iyashi-care
Other Patient Stories about Iyashi Care:Getting Past the Enryo: How a 30 minute talk made a differenceIyashi Care Story: The Relief I Felt with the “Care Specialists”
Other Articles and Resources:Intro to Palliative Care: https://www.keiro.org/feature/palliative-care-introPalliative Care Resources: https://www.keiro.org/what-we-do/iyashi-care/resources-for-palliative-careIyashi Care FAQ: https://www.keiro.org/what-we-do/iyashi-care/iyashi-care-faq
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