Roberto was an American success story. Born of immigrant parents, he grew up here in the 1960s. He served in Vietnam and later became a very successful real estate agent. He never married or had kids, but he helped many of his nieces and nephews go to college and even helped their children as well. When he retired, he spent much of his time with his buddies from the army. He seemed to be healthy and was always in good spirits, singing along with his favorite oldies as he drove his truck around town.
Then for no reason his family could think of, Roberto began to withdraw. He slept a lot. Wasn’t interested in his usual activities. He was even losing weight. He wouldn’t go to the doctor, so his family decided to try something else to get him to reengage again. His niece Maricela called Thoughtful Engagement®.
Roberto was resistant at first, but he agreed to one meeting. From the get-go, the Thoughtful Engagement Specialist made it clear that Roberto did not need to participate, that he could show her the door and she’d leave. He seemed to appreciate that.
From talking with his family, she knew he loved music. In his home she noticed one whole wall dedicated to a display of vinyl records from the 1960s. They began to talk about favorites, and he put on a few albums to share. At the end of their visit, he agreed that she could come again.
The next time she brought sweets from the bakery Maricela said was his favorite. He made some coffee and joined her in eating. Then they dove into his music collection. At the third visit she brought some sweet tamales and they eventually got to talking about the changes his family was noticing. The specialist knew from the care managers on her team that Roberto was exhibiting classic signs of depression. They talked about that possibility and about the fact that it was treatable. He didn’t have to feel this way. Once he understood it was very common for vets to get depressed later in life, he went to the doctor and got medication and a prescription for therapy.
The specialist continued to visit. She helped him find his guitar and get new strings. She even arranged for him to meet the DJs at the local oldies radio station. With her help and support, he stayed with the medications and eventually got to where he felt like hanging out with his buddies again.
“I guess sometimes it takes someone from outside to know what to do. All we knew was that he needed help. We are so grateful to the specialist for taking the time to let him build up trust. I think that was key to him agreeing to go to the doctor.”
— Maricela, Roberto’s niece
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