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Jim's story

March 27, 2024
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A photo of a CCA member sitting in his living room talking to his CCA care partner.

At 77, Jim has lived many lives. As a veteran, he spent some time overseas and worked out of state for a few years, but his home has always been Rhode Island. The Ocean State is where Jim’s family and friends live and taking care of them has always been a big part of his life. But when his CCA Health Rhode Island nurse Heidi first met Jim, he was struggling to take care of himself.

“When I started working with Jim, he was recovering from a long hospital stay while also living with several chronic conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea,” Heidi said. “He felt unwell and was sleeping all day. It’s easy to see why he was struggling.”

To help Jim, Heidi visited his home to develop a care plan just for him. During her first visit, she learned that he wasn’t taking his medications and didn’t have a lot of motivation to get better. “I was depressed because I couldn’t do anything,” Jim said. “I couldn’t socialize like I used to, and I couldn’t move or go far.” When Heidi asked Jim about his health goals, he said he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family. “My role as Jim’s nurse is to help him on his health journey, but he was overwhelmed and it was important to start with small changes,” Heidi said.

When Heidi visited Jim for the second time, she brought him a simple pill dispensing tool that made it easier for him to access his medications. Because Jim has arthritis in his hands, he struggles to open pill bottles and traditional pill boxes. “This small and easy fix made a big difference for him,” she said. “It also helped to build some trust between us, and he asked me to come back.”

Heidi also helped Jim better understand his conditions. “Jim has congestive heart failure, but no one had taken the time to explain what that meant,” she said. “He wasn’t taking his medications, in part, because of the side effects. He didn’t realize that without those medications, he could end up in the hospital again.” Since these initial conversations with Heidi, Jim has been taking all his medications as prescribed.    

Heidi continued to visit Jim every week, ensuring he was staying on track with his care plan. With time, she learned that Jim had been sober for over 43 years. Along the way, he learned many lessons, which he now shares with others by serving as an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sponsor. “Jim is passionate about being a sponsor. He spent Thanksgiving with his AA group instead of his family. He knew his community needed him.”

Helping Jim stay connected to his AA group was a top priority for Heidi. Unfortunately, he had unmanaged sleep apnea. This made it difficult for him to stay awake during the day and attend meetings.

“I used to spend all day in bed and had no ambition to do anything,” Jim said. “I would think about picking up a drink. Whenever I feel this way, I call my AA group and now I call Heidi and they help me. Sometimes I need motivation and Heidi has given me that, and more.” 

Heidi helped Jim better understand his sleep apnea symptoms and got him set up with the right equipment. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air,” Jim said. “Heidi helped me get a CPAP machine that helps me breathe all night long. She’s been a godsend.”

“Jim is an incredible person and a kind soul who loves helping others,” Heidi said. “He has built a strong social support system. Getting him back to these meetings was important not only for recovery but also for healthier aging.” Since working with Heidi, Jim has stayed on track with treatment and has stopped sleeping during the day. “By helping him stay on track with his care plan, Jim has been able to do more of what he loves,” Heidi said. “He’s spending more time with family. He’s gone back to his AA meetings and reconnected with some of his friends who are veterans. He’s back to taking care of the people he loves.”

“Heidi is a beautiful person and she’s helped me in more ways than one,” Jim said. “I don’t know what I’d do without her. Thanks to her, my whole life has changed.”

Heidi also helped Jim better understand his benefits to ensure he’s using what he needs to stay healthy. “Thanks to CCA Health, I get help with buying medical supplies and prescriptions, which I didn’t have before,” Jim said. When asked about his future health goals, Jim said that he’s hopeful that he can watch his grandchildren grow up and get married. By working with Heidi, Jim feels he’s taking important steps to make this goal a reality.

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