One Social Worker

by Kelly Kimura
Tokyo, Japan

One Social Worker

We are an American family living in Tokyo. Although we visit our families in the USA once a year, we didn’t really give much thought to the changes my husband’s aging parents and aunts were going through. Suddenly there was only one person left: his mother.

His mom was a diabetic in her mid-80s, a heart attack survivor with bad knees, and an independent lady whose English was an increasingly rusty second language now that she was alone.

Her driving had become more erratic, and she fell more frequently. The house she loves and lived in for over 40 years became challenging for her. She was faced with making it safer or moving to senior housing.

We made separate yearly visits to give her more company, but otherwise could only try to help from afar. Sometimes our help led to more problems, such as when I arranged to have my mother-in-law’s many medications mailed to her. This eliminated the one-hour drive that she had been making for years to a military base pharmacy. As a result, she had to frequently hobble down her steep front steps and walk up an incline along an open drainage ditch to get to her street-side mailbox.

I applied for a nonprofit community development grant to install a ramp in place of her steps, but the slope of the lawn made the ramp too expensive.

On my last visit, she had trouble standing for more than 10 minutes because of a fall. On her limited income, she couldn’t afford a helper, so I contacted the county senior services for light housekeeping services. However, there was a waiting list and it would be months before the housekeeping service became available.

During the application process, to our surprise, my mother-in-law was assigned a social worker specializing in senior citizens. I assumed this was just to verify that she needed the service. I didn’t realize that Lori, the social worker, could and would do much more.

Lori makes home visits and takes the time to patiently understand what my mother-in-law’s needs are. She has gone with my mother-in-law to the doctor, arranged for a mailbox and mail delivery at the front door, and even pushed through a modified, affordable version of the stalled ramp project. Lori has driven my mother-in-law to see several senior housing complexes. On top of all this, she emails me updates to let me know about options and resources.

I know it’s Lori’s job to know what to do and who to go to to resolve issues common to senior citizens; however, Lori doesn’t stop there. When there is something that will help my mother-in-law, Lori runs with it and sees it through as if my mother-in-law were her only case.

Thank you, Lori, for making such a difference, both for my mother-in-law and for us.

Originally published as HeroicStories #843

3 thoughts on “One Social Worker”

  1. How awesome! What a wonderfully thoughtful person Lori has been. America needs more folks like this – NO – the WORLD needs more folks like this! Thank you Lori for being such a loving, caring person who looks for ways to help those around her!

  2. This Social Worker is obviously in the right job! She loves helping people and doesn’t just pass information and recommendations along to the next person down the ladder to handle. She does it herself and makes sure the far-off family knows how their loved one is doing.


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