Questions About Progress

I haven’t been able to contact my nephew for about a week. His phone goes to voicemail and my calls and texts haven’t been returned. Is this the return to the problems that he has been working so hard to overcome? I e-mailed his case worker and called her. I finally got in touch with her only to find that he has now been assigned a new case worker. I also found out that he lost his phone. I wondered if he really lost his phone of did he trade it for drugs? He has done that before.

Trying to stay positive when things flash back to behaviors that have happened before, and have not turned out in a positive direction, is very difficult. Everyone in the family has had this experience with Aaron and have been disappointed that he is falling back into his drug use. I don’t know that is what is happening, but after a while, it is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is important to realize that the only way to really know what is happening is to drive to him and determine what is actually happening.

I drove to the motel that his counselor has provided and met with Aaron. Although I have been there before, and I have brought him food, I am just starting to realize that he can only make food that is already prepared or that uses milk or hot water. Cereal works and instant oatmeal works, but “mac and cheese” doesn’t really work because the hot water from the sink isn’t hot enough to melt the cheese. As we talked, he asked me if I could buy him a coffee maker so that he would have water that is hot enough to give him more food choices. I asked him about a microwave, but he wasn’t sure that he is allowed to have a microwave in the room. The more I think about his food choices, the more I realize just how bad his choices are and I am not sure exactly what to do.

I discussed the SSDI forms that I received for him and had him sign the forms. He gets $50.00 a month on a credit card, but his counselor found out that he was supposed to get a lot more, but the initial application was filed while he was in the hospital and not updated when he was out of the hospital and homeless in Camden. The lower amount was for individuals that are long term hospital patients and qualify for an amount that would cover incidental expenses. He doesn’t have any valid sources of identification and every time I think he is making progress, I realize that the things I take for granted in my life, and how I get things done, are not available to him at this time.

I now have a list of things that need to be done and things that need to be purchased for him, but I need to schedule a meeting with him and his counselor to verify what is being done and what I should do. When I think of my children, I realize how fortunate I am. They were able to figure out what needed to be done or their mother and I directed them to get those things completed. It seemed so relatively easy, but that is not the life that he had. In reality, his mother was having problems just keeping her life together and she had my mother to oversee what was going on. I just didn’t realize how much my mother was keeping everything together for both of them. When she died, things started to unravel, but I had no idea.

When my sister died two years ago, the last safety net disappeared and Aaron was now homeless. How is it that his family has so little involvement with him? The easiest answer is that he doesn’t contact us and we didn’t have a way to get in touch with him. There were times I found him by driving around Camden and made arrangements to meet him and get him clothes and food. People that have had family members involved with drugs cautioned us to not enable him and let him get to the point that he is ready for help. What I keep wondering is if this really was the right course of action. But now, I need to focus on that fact that he is actually making progress and try to help him.

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I have a BA in Psychology and a teaching certificate as a Special Education teacher. I have a MA in Student Personnel Services and I recently retired from my position as a Guidance Counselor. I have been active on advisory boards concerning disability issues for over 25 years. I also have over 25 years of business experience in Human Resources and Operations Management.

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