When Lydia Robertson, 89, speaks, you want to pay attention. Her warmth is contagious, and her natural smile stretches wide as she describes growing up in Jamaica with her large family (she had nine siblings!), meeting her husband, George, and eventually raising her sons in Columbia Heights, D.C.
Listening to it all is Iona Care Manager Carol Kaplun. As a geriatric care manager, Carol provides ongoing support whenever (or however) needed to Lydia and her two adult children — Karl, who lives nearby, and Mark, who lives in northern New Jersey. Carol acts as a resource, an advocate, and a sounding board for any worry or question, and she helps put plans into action.
Karl and Mark first connected with Iona nearly two years ago after Lydia had a benign brain tumor removed. After an initial consultation, Carol assisted the family, helping to manage Lydia’s return to her apartment and overseeing the implementation of skilled medical services such as occupational and physical therapy. “It was a confusing time,” says Carol, “and they wanted Mom to have a fail-safe plan.”
Fortunately, today Lydia is in good health. She is an active resident at the Chevy Chase House, a retirement community, enjoying activities like film screenings and exercise programs, and she regularly visits with friends and family. Nonetheless, Carol, along with Iona Care Manager Susan Bradley, still checks in regularly and helps manage doctor’s appointments.
In case of an emergency, Carol or Susan is also able to respond quickly. “Whatever issue may arise, Iona Care Managers can see the landscape of the available resources to address it and make recommendations,” says Carol. “If you were not working with a care manager, you would spend time seeking and gathering information and then trying to evaluate the best option. You can get from point A to point B much quicker when you can use professionals and avoid the pitfalls.”
Most importantly, though, Iona Care Management provides peace of mind as a local, hands-on, and personalized program. “We’re a relief for them whenever they want it,” says Carol. “If Mark and Karl are going to travel out of town, we are there as a form of backup.”
Adds Lydia, ‘Carol has been very helpful to me, and I think very kind in lots of ways. When I needed a shoulder or an ear to hear my voice, she has been there.'”
Written by Rosie Aquila
Rosie Aquila is Iona’s Communications and Marketing Manager. A graduate of Kenyon College (where she worked as editor for the college’s newspaper), Rosie joined Iona’s team in 2014.