Lifelong Health

ChooseHome members: Brad & Jan Crawford

When Brad and Jan Crawford enrolled in ChooseHome, they were both active, healthy 66-year-olds looking forward to spending their senior years together at their home on 16 acres in New Kent County.

“We were in great health, able to do anything we wanted,” Brad says. 

Given Brad’s background in business and procurement, he knew it was important to prepare for the day when that wasn’t the case. The Crawfords explored options for long term care and settled on ChooseHome, which gives residents in the greater Williamsburg region, Gloucester and the Virginia Peninsula the individualized support they need to age in their home for as long as possible and ideally, for life.

“You join while you’re still healthy because you never know what’s around the corner,” Brad says. “Unless you have a total crystal ball or unless you’re a real gambler willing to roll the dice, there’s no time like the present.”

Six months after joining, the Crawfords’ present changed dramatically when Jan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Months of chemotherapy and radiation were followed by Jan undergoing surgery in the hopes of removing the tumor.

Navigating a health care crisis is daunting, but because the Crawfords were ChooseHome members, they could rely on their Personal Services Coordinator, Hannah Barton. Personal Service Coordinators serve as trusted advocates and guides for ChooseHome members. In many cases, they are extensions of the families they work with. 

The Crawfords had gotten to know Hannah well before Jan became ill. Hannah visited them in their home and conducted a safety check, pointing out area rugs, for example, that could potentially be a falling hazard. She checked in monthly with the Crawfords by phone, learning all about their two children, the passion they shared for their church choir and the story behind their meeting. Brad and Jan initially connected in high school when both were avid trumpet players.

“We work to build strong, trusting relationships with all of our members.,” Hannah says. “With Brad and Jan, it was just that instant connection.”

Brad trusted Hannah to handle all of the paperwork and the processes associated with Jan’s care. When Jan remained in the hospital for a week after surgery, Hannah coordinated in-home care for Jan to give Brad the breaks he needed to relieve the stress. 

“The whole time we were in the hospital, I could just focus on Jan,” Brad says. “Hannah called me daily. Everything was taken care of. I didn’t have to worry. I had total peace of mind.”

Before Jan went home, the discharge nurse had instructions and questions.

“I got out my phone and called Hannah,” Brad says. He handed his phone to the nurse so she could work out the details with Hannah. 

When Jan reached the point where she didn’t want additional treatment, Hannah talked with them about palliative care. Jan and Brad agreed that was the route they wanted to follow.

“I called Hannah, and she took care of everything for us,” Brad says.

Hannah coordinated Jan’s entry into hospice, too. Jan died on April 13, 2021, one day after the Crawfords’ 35th wedding anniversary.

Brad is still learning to adjust to life without his wife, but he is grateful for Hannah’s continued support. She checks on him regularly and recently introduced him to wine tastings and luncheons available to ChooseHome members looking to socialize.

Knowing he can call on Hannah should he experience health problems of his own is a comfort. His son is in Chester, Virginia, and his daughter lives in Cambodia; both have families of their own. He is at peace knowing that he will not be a burden to either of them if his health declines.

“They’re not going to have to worry about Dad,” he says. 

Brad plays golf three times a week and attends yoga classes. He’s got a new housemate — a comfort dog named Solomon who rarely leaves his side. Brad is grateful to be able to do the things he still enjoys living in the home he and Jan built more than a decade ago.

“I know I’m not alone,” he says. “ChooseHome and Hannah are here.”