Old habits are hard to break. No one knows this better than retired St. Tammany Parish residents Lou and Betty, married more than 60 years.
Outwardly, Lou was known as a good friend, popular and active in his community. But inwardly, a problem haunted him for most of his marriage. Often and without warning, he flew into extreme fits of verbal rage. Lou always felt ashamed and frustrated after an outburst. Betty felt hurt, helpless and alone. Their friends had no idea.
Over the years, Lou tried getting help through religion or therapists, but nothing worked. When his son tragically took his own life after struggling with depression, the crisis added to Lou’s burden and led him to Volunteers of America. It took a call to our Crisis Response Program for him to finally discover ways to control his rage.
He talked to Suzanne, a licensed social worker with the program, who listened carefully. Suzanne persistently reached out to help the couple, discussing coping skills and encouraging Lou to attend a 12-step program for those with similar challenges. She found him transportation to the meetings. Slowly, Lou learned ways to prevent his escalating anger. He admitted his struggles to others in the program and took responsibility for his actions. And, he discovered the painful truth that he had long suffered from untreated post traumatic stress since his Korean War combat service.
Lou sincerely apologized to Betty for the pain he’d caused over the years. Gradually–with the commitment of Suzanne and group support–Lou’s anger issues have begun to dissolve. Betty says Lou is truly a changed man. “Life is so much better now.”
The Crisis Response Program helps many in St. Tammany cope with behavioral health problems. The goal always is to intervene before a crisis escalates. Our staff is committed to offering hope and real-life solutions. As Lou’s experience shows, it’s never too late, or too early, to ask for help.
The following is a story from our Elderly Protective Services program (EPS), which works to prevent, remedy, halt, or hinder acts of abuse and neglect against elderly adults in the community while promoting the maximum possible degree of personal freedom, dignity, and self-determination for these individuals. For confidentiality purposes, the client’s name has been changed.
Audrey is a female in her 80’s who was living alone in a flood-damaged home in Jefferson Parish. EPS received a report from Emergency Management Services that Audrey was in trouble. She refused to go to the hospital, and when EPS arrived, they found her home in dire straits. There was just enough space to get around in the house, which was littered with clutter. Audrey was found sitting on her bed, which had no linens or sheets on it. Her living quarters were filthy. There was an unresponsive dog on the bed with her.
Audrey’s son was called in, and he encouraged her to go to the hospital to be evaluated. She went, and found out that in addition to a broken hip, all her other vital signs were off.
Audrey was nursed back to health and brought to a nursing home to be near her son. She is now doing well thanks to Elderly Protective Services’ intervention.
Meet Mr. Fred Harper (pictured), who recently received services from our Repairs on Wheels program. Mr. Harper is a 75 year old New Orleans native confined to a wheelchair and has scant left his Mid-City home in the past twelve years. During Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Harper was evacuated to Alexandria, where he spent three months living in a hospital. Mr. Harper enjoys art, music & books, but had no way to leave his house to enjoy them. He sought help and was referred to Volunteers of America. Our Repairs on Wheels program, which provides minor home repairs to senior home owners in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany and St. Charles, was able to fit his house with a ramp. Now, Mr. Harper can scoot safely out of his home with his new motorized wheelchair. “I now have the mobility to get outta here”, he says. Thanks to contributions from Home Depot, Lowe’s, & the Easter Seal Foundation, the cost of the ramp was only $265, a small price to pay for freedom.