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Joanne Susi

"My life is separated into before and after. Before, I was a Senior Clinical Research Associate assisting in clinical trails with CAP working with Dana Farber, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, and others in Cancer research. Now I am a survivor and lucky to be alive". Read Kristin's story

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Joanne SusiJoanne Susi

"It's the difference between surviving and thriving...and I'm thriving here."

In March 2008, Joanne Susi, a life coach and motivational speaker, was grocery shopping when she suffered a stroke that landed her in a nursing home. Her doctors told her children she may never be able to walk again and that she could possibly spend the rest of her life in a nursing home.

When I lived in the nursing home, I was showered once a week, dressed, waited for meals, sat, read, went to bed – life was very limited," says Joanne. "Nursing homes are where people go to live out the rest of their lives...I'm in the middle of my life... I have so much to do."

Joanne's opportunity to apply for the ABI Waiver came to her through one of her social workers at the nursing home. After Joanne qualified for the ABI Waiver, she began the transition into her own apartment.

"The beautiful thing about the transition is that they helped me set up my apartment and purchase things I needed like adaptive equipment, a couch, a bed, a table and a kitchen set," says Joanne. "It's very client-centered…I have input. The services, such as physical and occupational therapy that I couldn't always get in the nursing home, I now get on a regular basis."

After her social worker helped her apply for the ABI Waiver, a case manager and nurse came to interview her, explain the process and answer all of her and her family's questions.

"It's important to know that the services provided are flexible depending on each person's needs; those needs may change and the program will provide services according to those needs," says Joanne. "My case manager is phenomenal; I can call him whenever I have a question…he is there to listen and to support and to help me figure things out and get things done the way I want to get things done."

Joanne has regular aids that come over every morning and help her shower, dress, and put in her contact lenses. Her visiting occupational therapist helped her arrange her house in a way that makes it easier for her to get around, as she sometimes uses a wheelchair in lieu of her walker. One of her favorite accommodations is a roll-in shower.

"I do my own grocery shopping and cooking, and have a wonderful social life with friends and neighbors. I love my privacy – having my own phone and computer – and being free to come and go as I please."

"Being in my own apartment – living independently with great support – has brought my family and me great relief and happiness."

"For anyone that is afraid to transition out into the community, it's normal to have fears and think, 'will everything be okay?' I want to help people get a perspective that will make the transition easier for them and help them know what I have gone through and how it has helped me," says Joanne. "It's truly a difference between surviving and thriving."

"I'm so appreciative of having my own environment. Look at this place. It's so peaceful and that's what I wanted to create.

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