Jenna L. Franks is a Partner at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and Florida. She practices out the firm’s State College location and leads the team there on all pre-planning clients. Jenna has the largest team within the Steinbacher firm, which comes with many managing difficulties. In working with Julie, she has learned how to create layers of middle-management, set boundaries within her team, and to delegate so that her clients still receive the best possible service while also keeping her team happy and content. Jenna’s State College team has seen exponential growth over the past 5 years and we are very excited to see what the team has in store for the future!
Jenna is also heavily involved in the firm’s marketing department and her team is commonly involved in testing out new marketing techniques and strategies.
Jenna has presented for MDS for years about dementia care and elder care planning and procedures, but has more recently become engaged in coaching for members. She has a passion for learning and engaging with other like-minded dementia care and elder care planning individuals and she is excited to be a part of the “think tank” that MDS has become.
Those who have seen a loved one go through the end stages of life understand how many decisions need to be made. I am Jenna Franks and this is my story on how dementia affected me.
I’ll never forget the day my husband was on the phone with his family. This was about 10 years ago and we were living in Florida. All of our family was back here, in Pennsylvania. I could tell something was wrong by how he was acting on the phone, but then he hung up and just started crying. My husband is not one to cry. So I knew something was very wrong.
My husband’s father passed away when he was young. So he was raised in part by his grandparents. He was always very close to his grandparents. It turns out there was an accident. His grandfather had a stroke and he fell. When his grandfather was falling, his grandmother had tried to hold him up and both ended up having a bad fall. His grandmother ended up breaking her hip. It was not looking good at the time for either of them.
Now both of his grandparents actually recovered from that fall. They were never the same, but they were able to go back home for awhile. However, that day after my husband got off the phone, we decided we needed to move back home to help out with the family.
We moved back to PA
and I took a job with an elder law firm. I never practiced in elder law before and I had no idea that what I would be learning at my job would soon really help with what was happening with our family.
While my husband’s grandmother was hospitalized, she was diagnosed with dementia. We knew her memory wasn’t as good, but the diagnosis was a surprise to us. Within a short period of time, she started experiencing memory lapses and judgement issues. She left the stove on. We found socks in the refrigerator. And she repeated herself, a lot. However, she motored around the house like the Energizer bunny! Pap was fine mentally. His limitations were physical. The stroke left him very weak. His legs became very lean and he was barely able to walk. It was interesting to see Gram and Pap operate around the house together. In a way, they were a good fit because Pap kept Gram on task with what she needed to be doing and Gram met all of the physical needs for the two of them. They supported each other and this worked for them – for a little while at least.
It seemed like we were constantly having to adjust with Gram and Pap’s needs. Pap was in and out of the hospital. While he was there, Gram’s memory would be at its worst. They compensated for each other. But if one of them was off, it became very clear to us how much help they needed.
By going through this rollercoaster with my own family, I’ve developed a passion to help others going through the same journey. It’s a difficult and, oftentimes, long journey. Especially if dementia is involved. And no one should do this alone.