March 26, 2019

An Unexpected Encounter Helps Lead to Life Changes

Leaving home and attending a balance screening was something out of the ordinary for Pam and it was a trip that she will never forget.  

“I met Kristin and she has been the person who got everything started and rolling,” said Pam who lives in Contoocook. “For that, I am very grateful. I feel like I am getting my life back.”

At the balance screening last October, Pam opened up to Kristin Haley, one of our two community health educators, about some of her needs. She told Kristin that she had become isolated over the years, beginning in 2006 after her husband died. Shortly thereafter, she started suffering from a series of medical issues including hearing loss, vision loss, balance challenges, worsening anxiety and depression, and complications from Type I diabetes. As a result, Pam accepted an early retirement.

“When I met Pam, she told me that loneliness had really started to wear on her and she would go weeks without speaking to anyone,” Kristin said. “At one point, Pam told me that talking with the checkout clerk at the supermarket was the only time she might speak with someone.” 

“I became more withdrawn,” Pam added. “I could not hear well and when I asked someone to repeat something, they became agitated and said never mind. People don’t have the time and the patience. I decided going out just wasn’t worth it.”

Community Health Educators help adults with complex care needs make action plans toward lifestyle and behavior changes to meet their personal goals and improve their quality of life by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations. Our community health educator’s role includes:
• Providing extra attention to clients
• Assisting clients with improving their self-management skills
• Helping clients advocate for themselves 
• Promoting behavior changes
• Encouraging participation and follow-up
• Instilling problem-solving skills
• Reinforcing chronic condition education

“Over the first few visits, we grew a rapport with each other and I listened to what her feelings and needs were and what she was open to explore,” Kristin said. “I connected her with local resources regarding utility assistance and food assistance. That has been a huge relief for her.

Today, Pam is leading a more active life and has two senior companions from The Friends Program who share her interests. One of the companions recently drove her to an eye doctor appointment, and stayed with her throughout the exam, helping to ease Pam’s stress and anxiety. She said it was the first time in years that she was not nervous during a doctor’s visit. 

In addition, Pam has lost weight and has been able to medically reduce her diabetes medications. 

“I encourage anyone who is in a similar position as I was in to reach out,” Pam said. “If you don’t reach out, you will never get the help you need.”

The Community Health Educator Program is being supported by a more than $1.1 million gift from the Audrey Lindgren Trust that allows our agency to offer this service at no fee to adults and is part of our community benefits program. 

For more information about the Community Health Educator Program, please call (603) 230-5673.