February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Our family will forever be indebted to Suzanne,” says Melanie Miller of Suzanne Myers. It was Myers whom Miller turned to when her ailing father needed help. With Miller in New York City, her brothers also living out of Nebraska, Myers, owner of Encompass Senior Solutions, filled in where needed.

“Hands down, she is one of the best people I have ever worked with,” Miller praises.

Myers was basically an extension of their family, caring for Miller’s father in Omaha until he passed away last July. She took care of everything from providing a personal driver when his car keys were taken away to bringing in hospice as his health failed. Myers even helped plan the funeral.

Myers worked with Miller’s 88-year-old father, a prominent lawyer in town who’d been living in his own home, still driving his car, and even going into the office on a weekly basis. Everyone in his life thought everything was fine.

It wasn’t until Miller was in town visiting her father that she realized that things just weren’t right. From bills going unpaid to the house being in disarray, Miller says, she and her brothers knew they needed to find some assistance for their “fiercely independent” father.

“I called Encompass, and Suzanne returned my call that night.”

With a background in social work and experience working with seniors in hospital settings, Myers says that she has witnessed her fair share of seniors being “railroaded” into a bad situation. “I just saw a lot of people giving the wrong information, and I broke out of that.” Three years ago, she opened Encompass Senior Solutions with the focus of giving her clients the whole picture of options available to them, rather than a limited view that may be benefiting someone else’s agenda.

“[I wanted to] make things right for seniors, give them a choice, because some people don’t give them the whole truth,” says Myers. “And, lo and behold, if you give people all the information, they make really good decisions.”

Myers explains that at Encompass, she gives her clients comprehensive assessment, helping them to evaluate the situation that they are currently in and what options will best serve their needs in the future.

“Ultimately, what people want to know is if they can remain in their home and how they can make staying at home a safe option for them.” – Suzanne Myers, Encompass Senior Solutions

Along with an RN, Myers meets with everyone involved in the senior’s care, as well as the senior if they are able. “My preference is for everyone that loves and cares for the person to be available.” Of course, this is not always possible, and Myers understands that. She is very adept at working with out-of-town relatives and considering the feedback and concerns of all those involved.

The Encompass team looks at the medical and psychological history of the senior, their finances, their power of attorney, and living wills. They consider the environment they are currently living in and if the senior can continue living on their own.

“Ultimately, what people want to know is if they can remain in their home and how they can make staying at home a safe option for them.” Things as simple as rugs, stairs, and placement of furniture are assessed, as well as more involved concerns, such as medications, hoarding, substance abuse, and dementia. “No question is too small or too big,” says Myers.

As to what triggers to look for or when is the right time to consider seeking assistance, Myers says the right time is anytime there is a concern. “There’s not necessarily a crisis, but you feel that something’s not right.” It could be weight loss, poor hygiene, lapses in memory, or any number of issues.

Encompass offers full assessments and targeted assessments. “In a targeted assessment, a decision has been made to move somewhere, and we can be brought in to make the best decision regarding that move,” she says.

Changes, no matter how big or how small, can be difficult for seniors and their families to accept. But Myers says that it’s often the family members that are the most apprehensive to address the issues. She says that most seniors being assessed, when confronted with the concerns, realize that there is a problem. “Fifteen to 20 minutes into the assessment, they figure out, ‘Wait a minute…she’s on my side. She’s not trying to pack me up and send me somewhere.’”

She says that often, the senior is able to stay in their own home, even those with memory issues. Myers and her staff make recommendations on what will be best for the senior, both in near and distant future. Rehab may be a necessary as a short-term solution, but they may be able to return to their home at a later time. Myers says she works with all scenarios and with all timeframes.

After years in the field, she has a wide network of resources allowing her to cover all the bases for her clients. From personal drivers, cooks, and housekeepers, to physicians and living communities, she will contact the right people for the specific situation. “We’ve done a lot of creative things for people to allow them to stay in their home.”

“[Suzanne] understood both sides of [my dad]…that he had dementia and was still a person. She made it the best it could possibly be.” – Melanie Miller

Such was the case with Miller’s father, who was able to stay in his own home but had to relinquish his car keys when Myers presented the situation to him. “Dad was able to accept from her what might have been very difficult to accept from his kids,” says Miller.

Miller appreciated the fact that Myers saw her father as a whole person, not simply as someone with dementia that could be difficult at times. “She understood both sides of him…that he had dementia and was still a person. She made it the best it could possibly be.”

Darold Jordan is another client of Myers’ who has been working with her for several years. Referred to Myers by a friend, Jordan hired Encompass to assist him and his wife when they needed some extra help around the house. “They’re flexible…they’ll do as much or as little as needed.” Jordan explains that Myers would spend four hours a day with his wife, helping her with her needs and tidying up around the house.

“[Encompass has] been very satisfactory and they have fulfilled our needs for a couple of years now,” he says. “They have several phases of assistance, which makes it adequate for most people’s needs.”

When Jordan’s wife died in June, Myers continued to help him with sorting through his home. He is currently in the process of downsizing and moving into an independent living community in the near future. The assistance that Encompass and Myers brought to Jordan and his late wife made a world of difference for which he is extremely grateful. “We actually got to stay in our own home,” he adds, obviously pleased.

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