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Jessica Fairbanks gives a presentation at Home Health Care Assistance of Cedar Valley in Cedar Falls on Monday.

CEDAR FALLS — Bob and Carole Hoffman stopped for an ice cream treat on the first day of their vacation in South Dakota three years ago when life as they knew it changed.

Bob fell at the store and broke his hip. At the time the couple was in their mid-70s and traveling from their hometown of Audubon. Bob later was struck with pneumonia and Carole underwent several surgeries, leaving the couple with no choice but to leave the home they’d lived in for 25 years. They now reside in Cedar Falls and take advantage of a new Cedar Valley organization that helps them live at home and maintain their independence.

Home Care Assistance of the Cedar Valley opened its doors in College Square Mall in Cedar Falls in September.

Jessica Fairbanks, one of the owners, helped roll out a “Longevity Series” this past month, where those curious about receiving home care assistance could attend weekly meetings and learn more about the services available.

This week Fairbanks focused on home modification methods to reduce the risk of falling. She talked about removing rugs and other obstacles that can cause accidents.

Last week, a yoga instructor taught the seniors how to remain active while sitting in chairs. Other presenters focused on medication compliance and financial planning.

“There’s definitely a need for this sort of assistance, but I think people are hesitant to think that they ever need it, so rather than find out information ahead of time, they tend to wait until something happens, and then it’s like you’re in panic mode,” Carole said.

The Hoffmans felt they weren’t ready for assisted living, but still needed help when they moved to Waverly to be closer to family.

Fairbanks worked for NuCara Pharmacy for seven years before helping launch Home Care Assistance of the Cedar Valley. The organization began in Palo Alto, Calif., and now has 160 separately owned franchises.

“Baby boomers are going to increase by tons in the next 10 years, so I think the need is always there, and I think as the next generation gets busier and doesn’t always have the time that they’re looking for resources to maybe take their place,” she said.

The organization provides customized care. As the patient’s needs change, so does the type and frequency of care. Each patient receives three care providers. Fairbanks ensures each is familiar with the patient’s background and is already building a relationship with the patient before their first shift.

“We are really excited about that, because it’s not just ‘here’s a name and address, good luck,’” she said. “It’s a really personal thing. You have to have the right skills and mindset for it. You become family, and we want to empower our caregivers.”

Being a caregiver herself, Fairbanks has learned what elderly patients need.

“Just seeing how much people are happier to be in their own surroundings ... that’s truly where you thrive. All of your memories, all of your things are there, and it’s just helps give better quality.”

So far Home Health Care Assistance has between two and six patients at any given time.

The cognitive therapeutics method developed by Home Care Assistance is designed to promote brain health.

The organization recently became one of 19 locations in Iowa certified in music therapy.

“Music changes things. … It’s very targeted. It goes back to a wedding song or a song that was playing when they had their children. ... We use it as a tool to trigger happiness,” Fairbanks said. It also can help increase appetite and redirect feelings of anger.

In January the organization will put on another series, including a presentation by a dietician about preparing easy meals packed with nutrients.

Though Home Care Assistance is typically not covered by insurance, the coordinators work with patients and families on finding funding, including working with the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, private donations and working with contractors who install home modifications including stair lifts, grab bars and wheelchair ramps.

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