Team Players – SenCura Home Care
“He has a better social life than I do, actually,” said Elena Pehrkon of her 92-year-old father, Philip Sharpe. Elena then recited a list of her father’s activities, including frequent visits to the nearby senior center, gardening and concerts. In fact, keeping up with Philip’s demanding social schedule has become a team effort.
Two essential members of Philip’s team are his caregivers provided by SenCura Home Care. The company provides full-time, live-in care for Philip, ensuring that he can remain independent and active.
A former member of the U.S. Army, Philip lived in various locations throughout Europe and Asia with his wife, daughter and son. When he retired in 1964, the family settled in the D.C. Metropolitan region. Philip became the Budget Director for the Fairfax County School System and retired once again from that position.
After his wife passed away four years ago, Philip’s family started noticing signs of dementia. “He’d go to Arlington Cemetery to visit my mother’s grave, and he’d go to the commissary. He had a routine, and he’d do that every day,” his daughter, Elena, recalled. “But then he stopped coming home, and he would be lost for five or six hours at a time.”
Elena also started to notice that her father was not eating the meals she was leaving for him. “He just wasn’t putting the food in front of him and eating it, and we started to realize that we needed somebody here to be with him,” she said.
Elena and her brother turned to ElderLink, a care management service. They recommended home care and offered information for several providers. Elena immediately called SenCura. “SenCura has always been very easy to work with, and they’re so accommodating,” she said.
As Philip’s Alzheimer’s disease has progressed, the family has increased his care from part-time to full-time care. “Eventually he needed someone to help make sure that he took a shower and put on clean clothes every day, so we ended up getting someone all day and all night,” Elena said. Two experienced caregivers now spend 24-hours every day with Philip, but they are never just sitting around.
Lois Davis and Carol Lester have become true companions for Philip. “My dad’s health is excellent,” Elena explained. “He’s capable of going out and Lois and Carol see to it that he does. They are both so proactive in recommending things, and they’re two women who do not want to sit at home.”
Lois takes Philip to the senior center three or four times a week. They also spend time gardening and make frequent trips to Arlington National Cemetery, a place that is special for both of them.
“When I found out his wife was buried there, I looked forward to going together,” said Lois. “I have a sister buried there, and it has always been a special place for me.” Their solemn visits are bookended by the scenic drive down George Washington Parkway. “We see the changing of the seasons and the river and all the boats, and he just really loves that drive,” Lois said.
Lois also joins Philip and his son and grandson for lunch once a week. “It’s just wonderful that my dad can still go out to lunch and gets to spend time with my brother and his son,” Elena said.
Meanwhile, Carol, who provides care for Philip on the weekends, loves taking him to concerts. The two enjoy a wide variety of shows throughout the area. They also visit local museums and historical parks, where Carol shares her love of genealogy and history with Philip.
Company owners Cliff Glier and Jaime Centrone explained that SenCura focuses on finding caregivers who will make real connections with families. “It’s all about helping the entire family. We want to be there for anything that may occur, whether it’s at two in the afternoon or two in the morning,” said Cliff.
Jaime added, “We really focus on hiring caregivers like Lois who have a personal history of caring for elderly loved ones and a real passion for caring for our seniors.”
Beyond providing an array of stimulating activities, Philip’s caregivers are also always looking out for his wellbeing. When a new medication caused him to become dizzy and drowsy, the caregivers alerted the family. “That could have totally changed his quality of life, so it was great that they were so quick to act,” Elena said.
With such a strong support network, Philip plans to remain in his house and active in his community for some time to come. After all, he has a loving family and several dedicated caregivers on his team. And they are always ready to play.