There is a touch of sweetness to each lipstick stroke that Teressa Vaughn applies to her mother, 87-year-old Lula Cooper Vaughn. Also, known as Ms. Lula, she has seven children (one who died shortly after birth) and 10 grandchildren. She worked at Campbell Soup Company for more than 25 years, and retired at age 55 to enjoy life in her home state of South Carolina.
In 2017, Ms. Lula moved to San Diego to live with her youngest daughter after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Teressa, the primary caregiver for her mother, helps with daily routines of feeding and dressing, and provides a constant presence of security and love, all while holding a full-time career as a consultant. But sometimes, she admits, the role of caring for an elderly parent with a progressive chronic illness can be difficult.
“The stress of caring for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s can feel overwhelming at times. Not only do you provide the day-to-day care, but you also deal with anticipatory grief as you see them approaching end of life,” says Teressa.
Teressa reached out to Sharp HealthCare’s Transitions Advance Illness Management Program for help managing her mother’s health. The program provides in-home care visits from a nurse and social worker who monitor and manage the patient’s illness, oftentimes sharing their assessments with the patient’s primary care physician. The staff also help connect clients to community resources to assist with nutrition services, transportation and other non-medical needs. The program accepts Medicare Advantage, as well as other insurance providers.
“With the proper support team, not only will you make it through, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do,” says Teressa.
Learn more about the Transitions Advanced Illness Management Program. Love Ms. Lula? You can follow her journey with Alzheimer’s on her blog.