Few transitions in life are as emotional and challenging as the role reversal between aging family members and adult children.
Lisa Yeager fondly remembers her childhood with her aunt, Frances Lacarrubba, and how loved and adored she felt alongside her growing up. But as Lacarrubba’s dementia and unspecified heart condition progressed in the last eight years, Yeager was faced with important decisions about home and health care.
Yeager, a Locust Valley resident, became a caretaker for her 84-year-old aunt, helping both financially and with everyday needs in her home. Yeager, also sought to help her aunt through Medicare, but they didn’t provide the live-in assistance Lacarrubba needed.
While visiting St. Francis Hospital and Heart Center, the staff recommended CareFirst Home Solutions. The home care agency serves Long Island providing quality home health care, companion care and geriatric care management to clients and their families.
“Emotionally, it’s just a huge weight lifted, knowing that she’s got proper hygiene and proper nutrition,” Yeager, said. “Someone is there with her, and she’s not alone, she’s being cared for.”
“Part of what we wanted to offer is the opportunity to help the professionals help their clients,” Jennifer Eipel, director of care management said. “If you’re a discharge planner at a hospital, you want to make sure that you’re sending that patient home to a safe environment”
Jennifer Eipel said involving a Geriatric Care Manager ensures that things such as documentation won’t be lost in that transition. A manager like herself has the opportunity to help a hospital reduce readmissions, and help people safely transition from a rehab back into their home environment.
Carolynn Eipel founded the agency two years ago. It has been such a success that the company outgrew its previous location and has now moved to a larger space at 58 School St. in Glen Cove.
CareFirst provides personal care and companionship, services like grooming, bathing, dressing, walking, meal planning and more. Companions also engage in hobbies and activities.
“We’re not just task focused, we really try to make it more about the whole person,” Eipel said. “I’ll often ask a family after meeting with them, what could we do that would just bring a big smile to your mother’s face?”
CareFirst does assist with those recovering from surgery, undergoing cancer treatments or are in hospice, but the typical age of CareFirst clients’ ranges from 75 and 102. This demographic, Eipel said, has seen their worlds shrink without friends or family. Sometimes they’re alone in a house they’ve been in for 50 years.
Eipel has always been a caretaker at heart, and dedicated her life to helping seniors since her maternal grandmother was moved to a nursing home when Eipel was 18. Her heart broke, she recalled, when she visited her and saw her grandmother’s state of care.
Her compassion and empathy moved her to question whether there was a better way to taking care of seniors. In 1997 she started working for Sunrise Senior Living as community relations director, and became executive director in 2005. Through the years she has worked at various senior care and assisted living centers. With a passion for learning about Alzheimer’s, oncology and end-of-life care, Eipel was certified as a dementia care specialist in 2013.
A decade after starting her career in senior care, Eipel began working with the Glen Cove center, and became a SAGE board member in 2007. In 2021, Eipel opened CareFirst Home Solutions in Glen Cove, to provide the community with in-home caregivers.