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“What happens to him when I’m gone?”

Joe was a middle-aged man with periodic bouts of paranoid schizophrenia. With his medication, he was fairly stable. He lived in a group home and spent his days on the porch, smoking cigarettes. He didn’t particularly socialize with the other residents. For the most part, his life outside the home revolved around trips to the doctor or trips to the store to get more “smokes.”

Sometimes Joe would have what his mom referred to as “one of his spells.” These were episodes when he would call her ten or more times a day, distressed that his housemates were plotting against him. He would hole up in his room and not come out. He wouldn’t bathe, eat, or change his clothes.

His mother, Diane, was now in her seventies and experiencing serious health challenges. She worried about what would happen to Joe when she was gone. She had a special needs trust set up with an attorney, so she knew he’d be provided for financially. But she was concerned about his emotional life. Who would help him when she was gone? At the recommendation of the attorney, she arranged for a care manager to oversee Joe’s care.

After a few visits, the care manager suggested to Diane that Joe work with their Thoughtful Engagement® Specialist. The goal was to help Joe identify activities that could keep his mind positively engaged so he was less likely to slip into paranoia.

Joe had always been interested in art. The specialist brought over a set of paints, and they drove to different settings so he could paint some pictures of the country and some of town. Soon Joe was making the decisions about where they would go and what to paint next. They hung his paintings in the group home. He even entered one in a local art show.

In addition to experiencing fewer episodes of paranoia, Joe enjoyed a renewed interest in life. He decided he wanted new clothes, so he and the specialist went shopping. He got to pick out his own wardrobe. A first for him! Encouraged by making his own decisions, he became more confident. He engaged more with the residents in the home. He even began to help out with meal preparation and cleanup. He was becoming a full-fledged and happy member of the household.

“All his life I’ve worried about Joe. I was the only one who understood him. But to see him open up doing the artwork and become his own man—wow! He’s become very capable. With the care managers to guide him, I know in my heart that he’ll be able to live a happy life, even after I’m gone.” — Diane, Joe’s mother

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Angela Thomas

Caring with Grace

Helping those you love live with dignity.

Thoughtful Engagement® is a national network of specialists trained to develop personalized, creative activities that reignite joy in the lives of older adults. Caring with Grace, LLC is the exclusive provider of Thoughtful Engagement activities in Dallas.