What do you do when you’re 34 years old, preparing for your wedding, expecting your first child, working full time, and your widowed 62-year old father is diagnosed with early stage dementia? “It was a hard process, a very difficult time,” said Teena Ketchum, who remembers very well the confusion and uncertainty she experienced when her father was involuntarily committed to a facility. “I didn’t know what to do and where to turn.” After consulting with an attorney, Teena was referred to Senior Transitions in Tallahassee.

“I didn’t know that case management existed,” she said. “But it was the best decision I ever made. The first step was getting temporary guardianship of my father, and Deb Simmons and her team walked me through the whole process.”

Case managers provide guidance and hands-on services to families and help them navigate the challenges of aging and chronic illness. Case managers take a holistic approach, assessing the needs of the patient and the family, including medical, legal, financial, social, and safety needs. Teena’s father wanted to live at home but his illness made that impossible.

“It was so helpful to have Deb and her team look after my father’s needs when he was being uncooperative with me,” she said. “They took him to his medical appointments and made sure he took his medications. It took the emotional strain off me and let me be his daughter again.”

Teena’s father spent a year in a locked facility, but most of the other patients with dementia were in their 80’s and 90’s. “He was miserable there, but then Deb’s team got him hooked up to VA services, and he was moved to a VA group home where he was much happier. I would never have thought of contacting the VA. Deb’s team came with me to the VA office to get the paperwork done, and when he was moved to the group home, they checked on him several times a week to make sure he was doing all right.”

Teena acknowledged that it was a huge relief to have experts in aging at her side every step of the way. “I could rely on the case managers to check in on my father when I couldn’t, and to make sure he was receiving the right level of care. And they were there for me just as much as they were there for him.”