Alan is one of those cases. He is kind, capable and friendly. He has a good sense of humor and a lot of opinions. Alan lived with his mother his whole life, but after she died in 2015, he had nowhere to go.
There were a few people in Alan’s life who knew of his circumstances and stepped in to help as best they could. Heather and Johnny Thomas were two of those people. Johnny was Alan’s manager at the Bass Pro Shop where Alan worked for a number of years. Alan excelled in his job there; he knew where almost every item was located. He memorized SKUs and stocked shelves with precision. He was extremely skilled in his work, but after his mother died his housing became uncertain. He bounced around between housing solutions and as a result, had difficulty consistently managing his day to day needs.
At one point Alan moved in with Heather and Johnny for two months as they looked for an apartment for him. Alan had no furniture or living necessities, so when an apartment was eventually found, there wasn’t much to make it feel like home. Heather turned to Facebook and family for help, and within one weekend Alan’s apartment was fully stocked with everything needed to make it feel like home.
Although things went well at first, it was clear after a while that it was not safe for Alan to live on his own. Not long after he moved into the apartment, his health began to deteriorate. As a diabetic, Alan had difficulty managing the illness himself, and eventually lost 60 pounds within a year. He became so weak he couldn’t get down the steps to his apartment and began falling on a regular basis. As a result of falling and increasing weakness, he had no other choice but to stop working. Alan was not only physically deteriorating, but he was also isolated. When he would fall, the only person he could call was Johnny, who would faithfully drive 45 minutes to come help him.
Heather and Johnny weren’t sure what to do, and it was through a connection with Progress Executive Director Donna Goodaker that they were able to find direction. “Alan would have truly fallen through the cracks,” Heather shared, “There are no clear and concise instructions on what to do in this situation.” With help from Progress, Alan was able to apply for social security and receive Medicaid for his care. He moved into an apartment with Progress companion Ethel and roommate Ricky and began receiving physical therapy.
Alan has made astounding improvement since coming to Progress. He didn’t take a bath for an entire month before moving in with Ethel because he was so afraid of falling. Within the first week they were working on bathing skills. Ethel has encouraged Alan in gaining his strength back. He can now dress himself and is working on making his bed. Ethel prepares healthy meals for Alan and gets both him and Ricky out of the house and into the community. “I like everything about Alan,” Ethel shared. “He came here in a wheelchair and can now walk using a walker most of the time. He was not physically able to take care of himself, and has overcome so many challenges.”
Alan is grateful for the people in his life that have helped him when times were tough. “I’m thankful to have them in my life. It was difficult not to have Mom around, and it was hard when I got sick and had to stop working; it was hard to not be able to move around.”
Heather and Johnny are still involved in Alan’s life. “He is like our older son. When Alan lived on his own, the only people he would call was us,” Heather shared. Johnny took Alan to Alan’s high school reunion this year. He goes to their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They continue to be a part of his life and are relieved that he is receiving the best possible support to live happily and safely.
Alan is also happy about this new phase of his life. He enjoys having people around in the house, and “having a roommate is good.” Although he doesn’t always agree with Ethel when she’s trying to motivate him to work on his strength, he is no longer isolated and physically deteriorating. One day he may even be fully independent, at least that’s what Ethel and Alan are striving towards.