by Paula M. Riley
Last fall, Beth Hixon, the former associate rector at the Church of St. Martins-in-the-Field heard the words no wife wants to hear: “Your husband has stage four cancer.” Six months later, he died. Along with a broken heart, Hixon was left with a mountain of paperwork, a business that needed closing and piles of miscellaneous “stuff” that her husband liked to save.
Saddled with her grief, a full-time job and full-time care for her five-year-old grandson, it’s an understatement to say she was totally overwhelmed. Shortly after her husband’s death, Hixon was introduced to Bode Hennegan’s Life Management for Seniors (www.life-management-for-seniors.com), a consulting service enabling seniors to assist with transitions and enable them to stay in their homes as long as possible.
“In addition to being highly organized, intelligent and having a wide base of other resources, Bode has incredible empathy,” said Hixon. “She has great sensitivity to the emotional aspects of experiencing a loss, and that was important as we were sorting through my husband’s things.”
Hennegan, a longtime Chestnut Hill resident, explained that she believed it was important to be empathetic and invested in her clients, but the other value she brings is that she is not emotionally tied to the situation or crisis.
“Whether a spouse dies, a parent has a stroke or a senior is downsizing their home, we can come in and offer an objective solution,” she said.
Life Management for Seniors begins client engagements with a free needs assessment. Seniors are interviewed and asked to complete a survey to identify the specific areas where they require assistance. Family members participate in this assessment, as requested or required.
“Often families know that they need some guidance, but they are not sure where to begin or what would provide the most immediate value,” Hennegan explained. “Conducting a needs assessment helps us clarify and identify the areas in which they would benefit the most.”
She tells of another client that had a fall and needed to reconfigure her house. Life Management Services did a basic assessment and, working with a partner design organization, made recommendations on how to enhance the living environment to support the new physical condition.
Rooms were evaluated and reconfigured to accommodate a walker and a wheelchair, handrails were added to the shower and included on walls, and general clutter was removed.
Through key relationships with providers of in-home nursing care, interior designers, landscapers, cleaning services and others, Life Management for Seniors can coordinate the delivery of many services that seniors require in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Hixon benefited from these relationships. Her late husband ran a real estate appraisal business. Their home, garage and separate storage shed are filled with his papers, customer documents and much more. Financial papers needed to be organized and taxes had to be filed.
As Hennegen helps with this sorting and other documents, she recommends which items are to be sold or disposed, and has a wealth of contacts to assist. Hennegan connects Hixon to paper shredding services, sets appointment with Purple Heart Veterans to pick up donations, and contacts appraisers and auctioneers for the more valuable items.
“She makes my life livable,” says Hixon. “That is beyond value.”
Hennegan said she understands, first-hand, how chaotic life can get. The mother of two sets of premature twins, just under two years apart, she knows all about extended hospital stays, sorting medical claims, processing multiple insurances, dealing with injuries, attending to family needs with sensitivity and the importance of eliminating stresses from the home.
“I started Life Management for Seniors because I wanted to help people achieve their goals, and I wanted to help create an environment where they could be healthy and happy,” she said.
Being goal-oriented may have come from Hennegan’s intense passion for fitness. She participates in triathlons regularly and considers herself a fierce competitor. Exercising daily gives her a chance to relieve stress, keep her focused and build energy. In the future, she hopes to include fitness and nutritional consulting services as part of Life Management for Seniors’ offerings.
For now, Hennegen is leveraging her MBA, past management experience, decade of motherhood, organizational skills and passion for others to help seniors during critical life moments.
“I really want do something for them that will have real impact on their lives,” she said.
Hixon’s strong endorsement of Hennegen suggests that Hennegen has achieved her goal.
“She has given me peace of mind,” Hixon said. “I now know that all this stuff won’t be sitting here for years on end. Instead, I’ll make headway, things will get organized, and I will get through it.”