Patient Support Through All of Life’s Changes

Published by Riverview Health on August 10, 2023

At the age of 85, George Kimball admits that he, at times, lived a fast life. As a firefighter for 27 years and an adrenaline seeker, George has seen and experienced a fair share of thrill and excitement that others do not have the chance to see. As the years passed, and George retired, he continued to seek out adventure and forge new paths. One particular path led him to Managing Change, a support group offered by Riverview Health.

Following a traumatic brain injury, George Kimballbegan attending the Managing Change group at Riverview Health, a support group for individuals experiencing challenges due to aging or medical
conditions.Managing Change

In September 2022, a traumatic brain injury from a biking accident forced George to slow down. As he began navigating life with this new medical condition and limited blueprint for the future, old worries and anxieties from his past also began to resurface.

Due to his head injury, George sought treatment for cognitive changes at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness where he worked with Greta Schwarzkopf, a speech-language pathologist. During treatment, Greta recommended that George attend the Managing Change group offered at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness.

“I noticed George, like many of my patients, was struggling a bit with the changes in his life because of a medical condition,” Greta said. “I wanted him to know that he was not alone in navigating life’s changes and hoped he would both find and give support to others in a similar situation. I recommended he just give it a try.”

The Managing Change group connects members of the community together to support one another during challenges or periods of change that may be related to aging or other health conditions. The group is facilitated by Greta alongside Thomas Barbera, PhD, HSPP, a psychologist at Riverview Health Behavioral Care.

George was hesitant at first as he wasn’t sure what to expect from going to something that seemed like group therapy. However, he agreed to give it a try and has been attending monthly since that very first meeting.

“Sometimes you just need to process the situations you’re going through with someone other than a family member or a friend,” George said. “In the group, we talk about our worries, anxieties and challenges. We can relate to one another. I’m able to accept what I’m going through or what I’ve been through by talking to people. It’s realizing that this is me, but I am not the only one. I’m not alone.”

George explained that no matter how big or small a problem one might have, members are able to share about their challenges and they are able to find support within the group. The sense of community and reassurance that comes with it has kept George returning, and while he may speak up sometimes, he’s often one who would rather listen and offer support.

“George has been a wonderful member of the Managing Change group—often asking others to share or expand on something that they shared,” Greta said. “He is an excellent example of the giving and getting support that we hoped to see when we founded the group.”

Although he has graduated from his treatment program at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness, George continues to attend the Managing Change group on the third Wednesday of each month, seeking and giving support where he can.

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