Kerri Rua was excited to welcome her father, Ray, for a family visit in Michigan. Ray had been enjoying his life as a retiree in Florida, but his housemate, a fellow retiree, unexpectedly moved away due to health complications. This sudden change and knowing he had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), prompted Kerri to discuss his future living arrangements while he visited. Ray’s visit was supposed to be a warm reunion, but when Kerri laid eyes on him, she realized that it would not be a brief stay. Kerri noticed that Ray struggled to walk without his walker and there were shuffles mixed in with his steps. But lurking underneath was something more critical– Ray had been living with undiagnosed early-onset dementia.
At that time, Kerri had her hands full. She recently went through a divorce, had two young children to prioritize, and had to travel to Germany for work training. With the crisis at hand, she had only but one weekend to figure everything out by herself. Money was also tight at the time, forcing Kerri to move back to her childhood home. But fate was spinning a turning point in Kerri’s story, unbeknownst to her until an old friend drove by her house.
Kerri had met Michelle Herron when she was only a teenager, but they fell out of contact. Kerri forgot that Michelle lived down the street from her childhood home until Michelle conveniently drove by. As the old friends played catch-up, Kerri was compelled to unload her recent situation onto her willing listener.
“I can help you,” Michelle said after learning about Ray. Kerri thought it was kind of Michelle to offer support but did not actually believe Michelle. Turns out, Michelle had built a successful career in elderly care, and she was the person who was most adept to help Ray.
After their conversation, Michelle immediately took on Kerri’s burden and had a solution for every one of her concerns. “All I had to do was answer questions and she did all the busy work for me,” Kerri recalls. Kerri thought God had delivered her an angel in the nick of time. However, the high costs continued to trouble Kerri and she did not think Michelle’s helping hand could extend that far.
Ray Rua was a wartime veteran, but he has always been sparse on details about his service with his children. When Michelle suggested using Veteran Aid to help pay for Ray to move into a care facility, Kerri assumed the plan was a pipedream. To make matters worse, Ray’s dementia had made it impossible for even him to recount his time frames served in the military or where to look for proof.
Michelle and Kerri then began their searches for clues. At one point, Michelle went through Ray’s bankers box and, despite Kerri’s disbelief, found the exact document that could get Ray’s veteran pension. “Michelle found it because she knew what to look for,” Kerri said, grateful for Michelle’s persistence and the $2000 monthly veteran aid that came because of it.
Six years have passed since that ordeal, Ray now lives in a retirement community that provides memory care. He is keeping up with action blockbusters, getting rides to the mall to meet family once a month, and is always in a good mood when his family visits. Although the process had a rocky start, Kerri is grateful for Michelle’s miraculous intervention. She does not regret moving her father and finds major relief that he is at a retirement facility despite his younger age. Now, she gets to enjoy Ray’s company as he lives out his golden years with great care.