Finding an Angel at the Aging & Disability Resource Center
Monica Froh, disability benefit specialist at the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Sheboygan County, discusses coordination of services with a Sheboygan County resident. (Photo: Courtesy of Miranda Hurley)
Finding an Angel at the
Aging & Disability Resource Center
By Sue Mroz
It was in spring last year that Brenda Larsen, then 59, a Sheboygan home owner, became overwhelmed with anxiety.
She had been diagnosed with neuropathy — a disorder that occurs when the nerves from the brain and spinal cord malfunction due to being damaged or destroyed — disrupting the nerves' normal functioning.
The disorder results in a variety of symptoms. In Larsen’s case, she experiences tingling and feelings of pins, needles and sometimes weakness in her feet and other parts of her body. “It feels like someone is pushing needles into my skin,” she said. “These symptoms came on gradually.”
Then her feet feel very cold, and she has tightening of her muscles, finding it difficult to walk. She now uses a walker.
When she was diagnosed, her neurologist recommended she move to a nursing home. Larsen was distraught upon hearing that and felt her life spinning out of control. She loves her home and desperately wanted to remain living there. Also, she had been commuting for 22 years to Juneau Village in Milwaukee to work at the manicure business she owned, Classic Elegance. She did not know where to turn.
Larsen discussed her plight with her sister in West Bend. “My sister tried to find help in Sheboygan and learned about the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Sheboygan County,” Larsen recalled.
Larsen then contacted the ADRC and was referred to Monica Froh, the agency’s disability benefit specialist, whose primary function is that of advocate and educator through the maze of various benefits and programs for persons with disabilities, ages 18 through 59. Pat Hafermann, the ADRC’s elderly benefit specialist, assists those with disabilities ages 60 and older.
“A person with disabilities does not have to be in financial need,” Froh said. “The ADRC has information and assessments to help determine the needs of those with disabilities of any income level.”
Larsen visited Froh on May 30, 2016. Larsen felt a sense of divine intervention. “Monica is an angel,” she said.
Froh spent an hour learning the details of Larsen’s situation, and then a couple more hours on the computer, helping her apply for Social Security disability.
Froh also introduced Larsen to Amy Mancl, a social worker with the ADRC, who offered to visit Larsen at her home to conduct an assessment, to determine her needs and programs she would qualify for under the Family Care Program. This program assists the elderly and adults with disabilities to receive services they need to remain in their homes — services which foster independence and quality of life for clients, while recognizing the need for interdependence and support.
Now, one year later, “I have the whole gamut of services,” Larsen said. “Monica’s help snowballed in a special way. I can’t say enough good things about her. Monica is so much more than her job. I am so blessed to have her. I could not be here in my home without all of her help. Any time I call her; she has a compassionate and warm voice and goes out of her way to help me.”
Larsen told of the services she receives due to the assistance of the ADRC. Through the Family Care Program, she receives services from a home health care agency three times per week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
“On Tuesdays, they clean my house and wash my hair,” Larsen said. “On Wednesday, they do laundry and assist me with showering and washing my hair, and on Saturday, they give me assistance up and down my stairs to go shopping and run other errands. I use a motorized cart at the stores.”
Larson gets ongoing help from her case manager from a managed care organization (MCO) providing Family Care services through care management and coordination of services. Her case manager signed Larsen up for snow removal, lawn care and Meals on Wheels, which she receives five days per week, as per her choice.
Meanwhile, her nurse case manager helped Larsen receive a shower seat and safety bar installed into her shower area.
Larsen is so impressed with Froh’s exemplary assistance that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Sheboygan Press, which was published this past December.
She added, “Monica told me, ‘Brenda, if you ever have a question or concern, just call me.' Every time I leave a message, she calls back as soon as possible. I am so blessed to have her. She is a caring person.”
Froh is gratified, realizing Larsen is now able to remain at home without overwhelming concerns. “In Brenda’s case, I wanted her to know there are programs to allow persons with disabilities to stay in their homes,” she said.
“Where I get joy is seeing consumers get the help when they need it. “It took a while to activate Brenda’s benefits. But it makes me happy to see her where she wants to be,” Froh said.
All of these staff members are eager to assist clients with their issues. Phone the ADRC at 920-467-4100 or 1-800-596-1919. Email ADRC@sheboygancounty.com, or find us on Facebook.