“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before. For some, it’s a lighthearted, playful commercial from Life Alert. For others, it’s a frightening reminder of the daily dangers faced by the elderly—dangers that go far beyond a simple fall.
For Dee Ann Thomas, it’s the latter. Five years ago, her uncle faced dire circumstances.
“He was suffering from alcohol abuse, had been financially exploited, and was in need of medical care,” Dee Ann sorrowfully recalled.
Dee Ann didn’t know the first step to a better life for her uncle—a life that, at the time, included living out of a car. In the past, Dee Ann hired others to care for her uncle, but they had all vanished while leaving him without a dime. Now, she was seemingly out of options. Fortunately, Dee Ann took the right first step after all: she came to Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) to look for a healthier, happier, and hope-filled tomorrow.
Upon arriving at LSF, Dee Ann and her uncle were paired with a case management team. They guided Dee Ann and her uncle through the entire process, putting her uncle on a path to recovery and a better life.
“Every day from sunup to sundown: when I needed them they were there, handling everything from clothing and physician selection to settling family disputes,” Dee Ann blissfully remembers.
Today, public nonprofit guardianship programs face a shortage of case management workers and spiking caseloads. Still, LSF strives to provide one-on-one attention and keep clients with their same case management teams, all thanks to our generous donors.
“We have had the same dedicated case management team from the beginning, and I am glad to say that my uncle is doing better than ever,” Dee Ann shared.
Dee Ann’s uncle continues to enjoy a high quality lifestyle with the help of LSF. However, not everyone is as fortunate as her uncle, and there remains work to be done.
In Florida, the number of verified cases of elder abuse and neglect has climbed 74 percent since 2011, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. This number may be lower than reality, as approximately only one in five cases are reported. Even worse: nearly 90 percent of the substantiated cases of elder abuse and neglect happened at home, according to a 2004 survey by the University of Kentucky that was conducted on behalf of the National Center on Elder Abuse.
We, at LSF, will continue to do everything we can to create healthier, happier, and hope-filled tomorrows, thanks to the strong support from our donors. More importantly, we call on us, as a society, to step up and properly care for our older family members, because everyone can make a difference and “Be the One.”
Dee Ann concluded: “Public nonprofit guardianship programs such as LSF are in this for the right reasons, to help those who are unable to help themselves.”