Sometimes the smallest wish can create the largest impact, or at least that is true for Washington area resident and Senior LIFE participant, Theo Mechtawi.
Four years ago, Theo lost his hearing due to a rare infection that caused his eardrums to rupture. Since he never learned sign language, his only way of communicating was a dry erase board. It was quite difficult for the former high school teacher. Communicating for Theo was as much a part of his life as life itself. “When Theo lost his hearing, he lost his social world,” said Christina Brandt, Theo’s social worker at Senior LIFE. “I made it a point to spend time with him one-on-one to give him the opportu- nity to talk about whatever he liked. It wasn’t always easy for him, but we discussed spirituality, politics, world events, family. He expressed the difficulty he had in communicating with others. He used to be a very social person but his hearing loss was isolating him.”
Brandt convinced Theo to accept a captioned telephone so others could call him. “When we had the phone installed for him at home, we discovered the Ubi Duo communicator device. The com- pany installing the phone brought one with them to communicate with him and it was wonderful. I thought how great it would be if we could get one for Theo.” The UbiDuo is a communication device that enables deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people to communicate face to face without any barriers. The device consists of two keyboards and screen devices that allow a deaf and a hearing person to carry on a conversation. Brandt began researching the device when one of her colleagues, Emily Ronan suggested she look into the Twilight Wish Foundation. The Twilight Wish Foundation is a national nonprofit charitable organization that grants wishes to economically disadvantaged seniors who are 68 years and older.
Thanks to Brandt and the Senior LIFE staff, the Twilight Wish Foundation and sComm Communication, Theo received the UbiDuo Communication device on April 6. Bonnie Caripolti, director of the Twilight Wish Foundation’s Western Pennsylvania Chapter, made the presentation at the Senior LIFE center located on North Franklin Drive in Washington. “I would like to send everyone involved especially Senior LIFE and Christina, a big thank you, for my ability to positively communicate again and to overcome my disability. Thank you.” Theo expressed emotion- ally during the presentation. “Connecting with the world will be a little bit easier for me. Senior LIFE is the backbone of my life and of all these people here,” said Theo.
“We’re all so happy for Theo,” said Senior LIFE executive director Megan Detwiler. “Theo, and all of our members, are like family to us. Our goal is to make their lives better and we love it when we succeed!” Senior LIFE is a Medicare program that pro- vides healthcare and sup- port services for eligible seniors at no cost so that they can remain living in their home. Participants receive services both in their home and at the Senior LIFE Center. Services may include; physician and nursing services, medications, therapies, social services, meals and activities. All transportation is provided. For more information on Senior LIFE, call (724) 222-5433, or visit their website at www.seniorlifewashington.com. For more information on the Twilight Wish Foundation in Western Pennsylvania, call Bonnie Caripolti at 412-244-9901 or visit the website at www.twilight-wish.org Source: Senior Times