James Scharf walking with his home health care nurses

A Surprising Health Journey for Local Retirees and Their Adult Daughter

You never know when the events of an ordinary day can change your life.

James and Jean Scharf retired to Central Delaware in 2020. They were in their early 70s, feeling great and completely independent. James walked their 90-pound yellow lab every day, and both he and Jean were actively enjoying their grandkids. Then in August 2022, James fell and hit his head at home. Excess blood on his brain caused him to suffer stroke-like symptoms, including muscle weakness and paralysis on the left side of his body.

It was a scary time for the Scharf family, spending three weeks in Bayhealth Hospital and another three in inpatient rehabilitation. Daughter Marianne took a leave of absence from work in New Jersey to stay by her father’s side, unsure of what the future held for them.

James’ recovery at home

What they hoped would be a few months of recovery turned into much longer. James was referred for at-home nursing, personal care and physical and occupational therapy. He lost the ability to perform everyday activities and relied on help from Jean and Marianne. And the entire family received support six days a week from their BAYADA Home Health Care at Bayhealth Aide Marie.

“Dad’s home care team gave us just what we needed; they educated us and kept me calm,” Marianne reflected. “Several times they noticed changes in his condition and made sure Dad received the early interventions he needed. Being able to be cared for at home was good for his psyche, especially since his only other option would have been a nursing home for an extended period of time.”

Still, it was an adjustment needing maximum assistance with daily activities. The Scharfs obtained a Hoyer lift in their home to bear James’ weight and help them safely transfer him between his bed, power lift recliner, home therapy sessions and wheelchair. At first, he needed a gait belt and three people assisting him to walk ten feet.

“It took a lot of strength training and dedication to get Dad ready to walk again,” said Marianne, “One day, his physical therapist said, ‘We’re going to walk today.’ And sure enough, he did. It was very emotional for all of us. An incredible journey.”

“Fall” comes again, this time for Jean

Just when Jean and Marianne were feeling comfortable enough to take a few hours away at the local fall festival, Jean stepped into a divot in a grassy field, fell and fractured her left shinbone. Rehab prescribed non-surgical treatment with a knee immobilizer and non-weight bearing on her leg for 12 weeks.

“So now, both Mom and Dad were in wheelchairs and receiving BAYADA at Bayhealth services,” Marianne recalled. “With physical and occupational therapists at home, Jean worked on range of motion, strengthening and gait training. She is now fully recovered.

How life changed for Marianne

Marianne soon realized that she needed to provide her parents with ongoing support. That meant giving up her job of 18+ years and moving to Delaware, a life-changing decision for her.

“We’re fortunate that I was able to arrange to be here,” she said. “For running to the doctor, making appointments and just keeping track of the million little things that can fall through the cracks.”

One year into their incredible journey

Happily, James has now progressed to minimal standby assist, using a walker instead of a wheelchair and still working on his therapeutic exercise plan. He definitely enjoys making his own coffee and fixing his own meals again!

As for Marianne, a whole new career path is coming into view. “There is a huge need for patient advocacy, and communication is something I’m good at,” she said. “I’d like to use what I’ve learned to help others navigate their total care. Being the person who finds what they need, oversees all their services and explains what to expect would be amazing and would make such a difference.”

Visit Bayhealth.org/Home-Health-Care to learn more about BAYADA Home Health Care at Bayhealth.


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