• Options For Elder Care | Testimonials
Options For Elder Care is a private life care management firm, owned and operated by Barbara (Bobbi) Kolonay, serving Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the surrounding areas in Western Pennsylvania. Bobbi is dedicated to each client's and family's need, with the goal of improving their quality of life using the best resources available. Below, please find some testimonial letters we have received from clients regarding our services.
Once again, the Redman family wants to express our gratitude for your caring, compassionate, and professional services.
Words cannot adequately express how thankful my family is and how fortunate we feel for having you to walk beside us through Mom's recent illness and passing. As you know, when you met Mom she was in relatively good health, despite some back pain, and your initial comprehensive report helped us start making informed decisions about finances, daily living, and long term solutions. And, when her condition and diagnosis worsened, you were always available by phone and in person to guide us through the medical minefield and personal ups and downs!
As I recall how you scheduled time to visit personally with her doctor, or answered your cell at all hours to explain what the hospital tests were looking for, I appreciate again how you helped us make wise choices in Mom's best interest. You were our "friend in the business" who knew the right questions to ask, and Mother's last few months of life were spent relatively comfortably in her own home largely because of your advocacy.
There are times in one's life when there's no substitute for the services of an educated and experienced expert in the field. And care for an aging parent is surely one of those areas where trial and error can lead to substandard care if not outright catastrophe. You were our expert. And you became our friend. If you ever need a referral, or a prospective client wants to ask about your services, feel free to have them call me. I will be eternally grateful for having found you when we did, and for having you to help us give Mom the quality of these days that she so richly deserved. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Lou Redman and family
As a physician who specializes in care of older patients, I found working with Bobbi in caring for Mrs. H a most rewarding experience. She brought to her care not only high levels of knowledge and skill in medical and social issues, but also the kind of dedication to promoting her well-being that we expect from family members. Mrs. H unfortunately suffered from a complex mix of problems, including progressive cognitive impairment as well as progressive weight loss and frailty.
Bobbi worked efficiently to get her through the diagnostic testing and subspecialty consults required to address these problems. Throughout this work-up, Bobbi communicated regularly with her family and with me, keeping all of us informed and aware of each other's views. When it came time to make decisions about treatment, she coordinated a meeting among Mrs. H, her family and myself. This meeting served vital purposes: it allowed all the stakeholders to be informed, to express their views, and to reach consensus about how to proceed. Most importantly, Mrs. H was able to voice her wishes for further care in the presence of her family.
With Bobbi's involvement, and only because of it, Mrs. H received the kind of care that all vulnerable elderly deserve, and too few get. Her family lived outside the area, but even had they been in the area, family do not have the expertise to manage so effectively the many challenges with which Bobbi dealt: finding an appropriate level of care, arranging help in the home, expediting and transporting Mrs. H to appointments, communicating with physicians and family, coordinating the family meeting, and supporting Mrs. H emotionally throughout the process of moving, undergoing extensive evaluation and hearing bad news.
Bobbi's involvement made what would have been, under usual circumstances, a trying ordeal for the patient, her family, as well as her physician, an experience in which all could be satisfied that the right things were done, in the right way, at the right time.
Dr. Eric Rodriguez
Benedum Geriatric Center
Alzheimer's Disease Took Both Our Parents
Our parents were both highly educated and stressed intellectual pursuits throughout our childhood and early adult years. This may be why it was so difficult for us to acknowledge their slow mental decline and final acceptance of the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
Over a two-year period, Bobbi guided and gently directed our family through all the stages, struggles, challenges, medical management, caretaker issues, psychological concerns, and finally death of both our parents with the support of hospice.
We do not know how we could have gone through this without Bobbi by our side, sharing her intricate knowledge of how to manage this devastating disease until the end. We consider her a part of our family and would highly recommend the services of Options For Elder Care to anyone who is trying to manage a parent, spouse or relative with Alzheimer's disease.
The Family of John and Mary
In 2005, our aunt, who had for most of her life enjoyed excellent health, started having great difficulty breathing and exerting herself physically. As a sculptor, she had lived in her house in the country for over 50 years, the past 6 of them independently - and mostly happily - entirely alone.
In January of 2006, having just turned 91, it became impossible for her to take care of herself, and having lived a wonderful and full life with no regrets, she decided that it was high time to move on to the next world. She had no fear of death, and wanted to die in her own home. As she began to need 24-hour care and none of us were able to move in with her, we were at a loss to know how we could possibly find a person or people to take care of her. Fortuitously, we happened to see a notice - that hadn't been there before - about a "geriatric care manager", at an alternative health pharmacy nearby. We weren't exactly sure what a geriatric care manager was, but it sure sounded right.
As soon as we met Bobbi, we were confident that she would be able to help us. She had all the family come in and with our aunt did an extremely professional comprehensive care assessment, walked us through all the things we would need to know and have, including medical power of attorney, advance directives, a do not resuscitate order, and many more things we had never thought of. She also advised us on all the different options for caregivers. Because she personally knew all the local caregiving agencies, the hospice providers and our aunt's physicians, she was able to conduct interviews and have both 24-hour in-home caregiving and hospice care with a visiting nurse set up in a very short time.
Which was a very good thing — a few days later our aunt grew gravely ill. Her doctor said that because of her previously damaged lungs and her bad heart that a form of congestive heart failure had set in, as well as pneumonia, and that she would probably only live several more weeks, as she didn't want any life-sustaining measures taken. Her close family - we two nephews and one niece from out of town - gathered around her, and she told us everything she wanted — from a plain pine box made by our cabinet-maker friend, an insistence for absolutely nothing to do with a funeral home or anything faintly associated with it, to have her placed in the chapel of the church she helped design (and which was adorned with her works of art) and a three day vigil kept by her body, what songs we should sing , to where her ashes could be scattered, and more. We even had a Native American healer we know come and perform a sacred ceremony to ask her spirit-helpers to hasten and make peaceful her journey, as she wished. And we knew that it would it would be difficult, and that it would be a great loss. And we knew that Bobbi would be there to support us and our aunt every step of the way.
Well, we didn't know how great Bobbi's caretaking skills were or that our aunt's spirit-helpers had other plans. It is now over a year later, and our aunt has already celebrated her 92nd birthday! She has trouble even standing with two people holding her now, and has an oxygen generator on all the time. And every day she goes from her bed to the sun-room, where she sits and reads and tells stories and watches the deer and the birds gather around the three ponds she built. And every day, the most wonderful and skilled and caring and loving people that Bobbi has found get her out of bed and make her breakfast and talk with her and cook dinner and care for all her needs, and put her to bed, and watch over her.
And every day there is something new to handle — how much of this and that medication for pain should we give now, what new device do we need to move her when she can't support any weight, what should we do when the hospice says one thing and her doctor says another thing, what will help this caregiver work better with that caregiver, when should we cancel a health insurance plan, what's the best ointment for this kind of rash, what does it mean when these spots appear on her legs, who should we call when her nosebleed won't stop, where can we find more books that she likes to read, — any way can we make her quality of life even a little better, yet not prolong it.
I cannot even imagine how we could have managed all these things and more without Bobbi's assistance and advice! — How we could make all the best decisions without Bobbi's nursing knowledge and medical expertise; how we could have found (and managed) so many wonderfully skilled caregivers without Bobbi's professional connections and personal diplomacy; how we would have made it through all the emotional ups and downs without Bobbi's constant optimism, reassurance and very, very loving heartfelt care and concern. For all that and more, we are incredibly fortunate and grateful.
The nephews and niece of E.J.M.
We wanted to thank you for helping to get our dad out of the nursing home and back to his house. Everyone in the nursing home told us this wasn't possible, but you were able to prove them wrong! Our dad had a massive stroke, spent time in the ICU, hospital, rehabilitation and finally a skilled nursing facility. The stroke was so severe he was only able to walk a few feet without falling, even using a walker. He spent most of his time in a wheelchair in the nursing home and desperately wanted to go home. We were so glad we saw your ad on your van; after our first conversation with you we knew getting dad home was a possibility.
Dad lived by himself in a ranch which Bobbi assessed and offered recommendations on home modifications. Bobbi was also able to get us a grant to assist with the costs of the modifications. She helped us find a 24 hr live-in caretaker and maximize the use of our dad's insurance coverage by getting visiting nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists. Dad has been home since Christmas, and we are forever grateful for Bobbi's expertise in guiding us through this process. Dad is now able to walk 50 feet with a walker and is thriving in his home thanks to Bobbi and Options For Elder Care.
Sue B. and Dave S.
Bobbi was our God-Send; literally and figuratively!
My mother had Alzheimer's and it was getting very difficult to care for her in her own home. Our plan was to move her in with my husband and myself but we didn't know if this was feasible or where to start. It was through the recommendations of Dr B. that we found Options For Elder Care.
Bobbi directed us through all aspects of care for mom, including the move, selling of the home and referral to a wonderful elder law attorney for planning. She walked us through the referral process for services through the Area On Aging so that we could get governmental programs for mom to assist in paying for her care. We were so glad she was a nurse and able to kept on top of mom's physical problems. Once mom started to deteriorate, Bobbi helped by arranging for Hospice care and assisting us to hire private caretakers to help with mom's care.
To have mom die at home was her final wish and it was through the help of Bobbi that we were able to accomplish that. The service Options For Elder Care provides is invaluable in assisting families make decisions with caring for their older parents. Mom died peacefully with her entire family around her; Bobbi made this possible.
Mr. and Mrs. S.
We do not know how we could have managed my mom's care without the expertise and assistance of Bobbi. When we acquired Bobbi's service my mom was in a nursing home, after spending over a month in a hospital on a breathing machine. Mom wanted to come home to live with my family, but I was terrified of the idea and the nursing home was telling me mom had too much care to go home.
Well, Bobbi with Options For Elder Care made it all possible. She worked with all the departments in the nursing home in order to get mom to the level of care where we could take her home. She advised us on what needed done to our home in order for this to be accomplished and made sure all the correct equipment and supplies were there along with home nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy and a nursing aide. Bobbi made sure this was all covered under mom's insurance. Mom also needed care while my wife and I were at work, so we hired a caretaker, with Bobbi's assistance, to help during those hours.
Over time mom started to have breathing problems again but didn't want to go back to the hospital. Bobbi met with our extended family to understand assist us in accepting mom's wishes and mom was switched to Hospice care. In her words Bobbi helped us see the importance of looking at the "quality of life rather than the quantity".
Mom died in our home as she wished. It was not easy by all means, but with Bobbi being our backbone and the help of hospice we were able to give mom her last wish in life. I would highly recommend the services of Options For Elder Care to anyone. Bobbi is one class act.
Michael and family
My family was delighted with Bobbi Kolonay at Options For Elder Care. My father suffers from Alzheimer's and we wanted him to be treated in the Pittsburgh area close to critical family support. My father was not a Pennsylvania resident and Bobbi helped us get him placed in a facility in Pittsburgh, while helping us deal with the government-insurance administrative and financial issues.
We were able to achieve our goals very quickly. We were especially happy about this because we had spent time and resources on some other professionals in this field who did not perform as they promised they would.
Chris Donnelly, Esq. and Brian Donnelly, M.D.
An elder law attorney and I provided legal and financial advice to our elderly clients who were very active in the community and had been healthy most of their lives. They said that they wanted to always live in the house they had built and raised their children in. We noticed in meetings that the husband's short-term memory was slipping. As the husband's condition progressed, his wife's memory started to slip too. There were a few incidents with toilets overflowing and teapots being left on hot burners. In addition, the husband started falling a lot, which resulted in numerous calls to the paramedics, as his wife could not get him back up. They needed help before a more serious accident or injury occurred.
After much discussion and a lot of arm twisting, because they were furiously proud of their independence, they were convinced to try having Bobbi come in a few times and see how it goes. Bobbi quickly established a trust with them. She was soon arranging their doctor's care, overseeing how to deal with the husband's falls in a sensibly and pragmatic way, she over saw their medication, saw that they had food to eat and that their personal hygiene was taken care of.
Bobbi was wonderful with helping the family handle the difficult task of taking away their parent's drivers licenses and eventually helping each through the selection, admission process and move into an assisted living facility. Bobbi's help did not stop there. She continued to oversee their medical needs making sure that they each got the care they needed as their diseases progressed with the eventual move to hospice care for the husband.
Bobbi's involvement in their lives let them each keep their dignity and pride as well as the ability to stay in their home as long as it was safe. By the end, they each felt like Bobbi was a member of their family. One of the highlights for them was a visit from Bobbi. Bobbi also helped the family understand what was happening and would be happening and she made suggestions on what she thought was the best way to handle each issue, making the tough decisions the family had to deal with much easier.
Having Bobbi, a knowledgeable nurse geriatric care manager, overseeing their care and being an advocate for them was a relief and comfort for everyone involved. Bobbi's empathy and respect for each of them was wonderful, but her assistance, knowledge, oversight and advice were invaluable. If we have another client with aging issues in need of assistance my first call would be to Bobbi.
Nancy B. Foster
Guyasuta Investment Advisors
The entire Hyle family would like to express our gratitude to you and Options For Elder Care for the thoroughly professional, yet warm and caring manner with which you cared for our mom.
It was you who identified the need to put priority on getting to the bottom of her care needs and causes. It was you who made us so much more comfortable that she was getting the care, support and socialization that she needed, even when we could not be there, due to distance and jobs.
You proved so many times that the medical experience that you bring to your work puts you above others in the field. Because you are a nurse as well as a geriatric care manager, you noticed signs that lead to the correct diagnosis of her illness and you spotted symptoms, like the blood clot, that had gone unnoticed by other caregivers.
Your priority was always our mom's welfare and you patiently guided us through each new set of challenges as we tried to maneuver through Medicare, home care options, and finally Hospice care. We are so glad that we found you and are grateful for the friendship and professional relationship you lovingly built with our mom and us.
Charlene and Chuck Hyle
Bobbi has been a godsend for assisting in the care of my 81-year-old mother. My mother's living situation changed rapidly after several falls in the home and a doctor's assessment that mom could no longer live alone. I left the Pittsburgh area years ago and first contacted Bobbi to request a survey of assisted living and nursing home facilities in Beaver County. I simply would not have had the time to conduct this survey on my own, and relied on Bobbi's professional judgment and experience to select an assisted living facility for my mother.
Bobbi also led a family meeting in which mom's medical needs and care options were discussed. I found her objectivity to be invaluable when responding to the conflicting views within the family about the best plan of care for mom. Bobbi has good judgment and discretion in dealing with the emotional issues that will invariably arise in the course of caring for a loved one. She is able to cut through the medical bureaucracy and discuss issues with attending physicians and nurses in a way that a layperson cannot.
Although I am far from Pittsburgh, I have peace of mind in knowing that Bobbi is simply a phone call away from checking in on my mother should the need arise. Her weekly visits have been crucial to monitoring my mother's medical condition and making adjustments to her care. Perhaps Bobbi's greatest strength is her genuine love for the elderly. My mother not only has an experienced R.N. to handle her care, she also has a new friend in Bobbi.
What would we have done without Bobbi? We have said that so many times over the three years that she has helped manage care for our parents/mother & father-in-law. Ellen and Alois were in their 90's when they first met Bobbi. They still lived in their home but were starting to need help. Bobbi patiently and gradually worked past their resistance to having help and ultimately became a special person in their lives, a person whose advice they (and we) cold trust.
Both professional and personal in approach, Bobbi assessed their health and abilities and focused at first on making their home more accessible and safe; she convinced them to accept help once a week from a caretaker who eventually became loved as much as family!
Bobbi's medical expertise was crucial to a good outcome when A.J. had serious emergency surgery at the age of 97. Bobbi communicated with hospital staff during the crisis and later with the various medical and insurance networks to convince professionals that he was able to be go into a rehab program at a respected skilled nursing facility that would enable him to regain his strength. And he did. Bobbi managed (and gave support to us all) during Ellen's necessary but emotionally difficult move into an assisted living facility on the same campus as her husband's skilled facility. And eventually she found a way that Ellen and Alois could move a second time to a new facility so that they could live together again in their last days. Bobbi was their advocate always, communicating their best interests to doctors, nursing staff, administrators, through all of the difficult decisions and processes.
When A.J.'s health deteriorated, she helped him and all of us to understand the decision to sign on to hospice care. She was there when he died, peacefully, aware, and with great dignity, and she continues to manage Ellen's care as her journey continues.
For us family members who were trying to manage care from another city, finding Bobbi's name via an internet search was fortunate enough to seem truly "God Sent".
Our journey with the medical maze of care for the elderly began eighteen months ago. Bobbi brought superior medical experience and knowledge of the requirements for caring for the elderly than all of the my mother's attending physicians and nurses.
Bobbi looks, sees and evaluates the "whole" person and the person's environment, not just the disease or medical condition. On more than one occasion, during my mother's hospital and facility stays, she intervened with recommendations for my mother's care and well being. She was a true advocate to the elderly. She maintained a professional and effective relationship with all parties involved with my mother's care.
The Daughter and Son-in-Law of Lois
• Why Choose a Life Care Manager?
If you need assistance with caring for an elderly loved one, are new to elder care or uncomfortable with elder care decision-making, are faced with having to make a sudden decision or major change such as a health crisis or change of residence, or simply want some advice about any aspect of elder care, please don't hesitate to contact us at any time.
Barbara Kolonay, RN, BSN, MHRM, CCM
Options for Elder Care
Allison Park, Pennsylvania
• About the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
ALCA is a nonprofit professional organization representing the field of Aging Life Care™ (also known as geriatric care management). ALCA promotes high standards of practice, professional ethics, and continuing education for its members. Membership is open only to individuals qualified by education and experience. Since its formation in 1985, ALCA has become the recognized and respected lead organization of practitioners in this field. Primarily a national organization ALCA also has members in Canada and other countries. For more information please visit www.aginglifecare.org or call (520) 881-8008.