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Blog: Stories and Insight

Care At Home – Honoring Mom’s Wishes

Mary Altopiedi, matriarch, and her family.

At age 90, Mary Altopiedi was the picture of independence. After a fall and hospital visit, however, there was the discovery of dementia. Yet even that did not deter Mary’s independence. Her spirit shined through the disease; with the help of a 24/7 in-home aide, she was able to continue living at home.  She stayed active in the kitchen, cooking and baking delicious treats. True to her Italian roots, she kept her family stocked with a variety of biscotti, gravy, and Italian cookies.

During the past year, Donna and Carmen, Mary’s children, began looking for a new in-home primary physician for their mother. Mary, now aged 99, needed a doctor who could come to her and see to her needs in the comfort of her home. That’s when Samaritan’s HomeVisit Physicians entered Mary’s life.

Donna and Carmen’s research showed them that Samaritan HomeVisit Physicians was a wonderful option for at-home-primary care in South Jersey. When Donna talked to friends and family, they confirmed that Samaritan’s reputation for providing excellent care was true. When Mary began receiving primary care at home with Samaritan, Donna saw first-hand the compassionate care and wealth of services available to patients and caregivers.

Mary and her granddaughter, Maddie, during Mary’s birthday celebration.

Donna was glad to have the support of Samaritan, saying “When you call Samaritan you always get a response.” As a caregiver, Donna found peace of mind by having direct access to experts who were quickly responsive to questions and concerns. In addition to the regular visits, the calls to check up on their mom in between visits reassured Donna and Carmen that Samaritan was a wonderful choice.

Smooth Transitions

Over the course of the year, Mary’s care team was able to keep an eye on Mary’s health as she began to advance. Lena Robinson, Mary’s Samaritan nurse practitioner, was able to see that the time had come for Mary to transition to hospice care. Because Samaritan’s family of services provides everything from at-home primary to end-of-life care services in South Jersey, they allow for a smooth process for patients and caregivers.  As Mary began hospice care, Donna saw the well-rounded care team of clinical staff, music therapists, social workers, spiritual support in action. She felt care and understanding from the team about her many emotions. The team’s kindness and timeliness put her at ease even through a difficult time.

Most importantly Donna and Carmen knew that they were not alone. Donna shared honestly, “It was something that I was scared about. Trying to get her care at home, but making sure that she wasn’t in pain while it’s happening.” The smooth process and ability to call with questions and get quick responses put her concerns at ease.


Caring for the Caregivers  

Mary passed away with her wishes honored and surrounded by love. Donna holds dear the clay heart that Samaritan provides to loved ones at the passing of their loved ones. Donna keeps the clay heart close at her bedside table along with the beautiful Afghan, knitted by a volunteer for Mary. Both serve as beautiful reminders of her mother.

For Donna, as a caregiver, the sympathy cards and check ins were lovely touches. They let her know that Samaritan was and would continue to be there to support her. Samaritan’s holistic approach to care means providing for patients and caregivers. The Center for Grief Support provides bereavement services to support caregivers when experiencing loss. Donna says about Samaritan, “responsiveness and the variety of services are helpful. I would feel confident that I gave someone a good recommendation.”