As part of a lifestyle and aging series, we’re working with renowned photographer Terry Lorant to showcase inspirational leaders in the industry. Each month, we’ll feature one or a few inspirational member(s) of the Amazing Care Network community who is using his or her voice to empower others in the collective aging experience. Read, in their own words, what the Amazing Care Network’s efforts mean to them.

Last month we got to know Amazing Care Member Eric Manese, the Branch Manager for the Newport Beach and La Jolla branches of Rancho Santa Fe Insurance. In Part 2 of his profile feature, we did a little deeper.


How Has ACN Touched You Personally?

Fast forward to last year and my brother and I were involved in taking care of my mom. She was diagnosed with lung cancer, which manifested to many other things including brain cancer.  Like my Dad’s cancer years before, the disease didn’t respond very well to any of the traditional treatments, Cyberknife radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and so on.  As her disease progressed, it became a caregiving mission again and I thought to myself, “What did we learn before?”  I’m a self-employed business person, so pride went out the window a long time ago, and I came to realize that I can’t make it without the help of others.

When I look back, the time that I had with my mother at the end of her life was time well spent and absolutely a priority.  As we all know, there are consequences for our decisions and I’ve personally been able to rely on the network in a number of ways, including  financial support during that transition period in addition to emotional support through talking to others.  As a caregiver, it’s a very long day when you’re always at that heightened sense of emergency asking, Is there a crisis?  Did something happen?  Did she fall?  Did she eat?  Were there any changes to her situation? Having relied on the network, I’m even more of an advocate because I’ve been through the system and I understand the horsepower that’s behind it and the people who help give you what you need when you need it.

Getting Real

I’m a social guy and I like to get out a lot. As a result, I have a pretty wide circle of friends and acquaintances, but when things get tough there are only a few people with the ability to go deep. The Amazing Care Network provides a safe place to talk about dying, opiates to manage pain and heavy things like that, which I found incredibly useful conversations to have with other folks in the network.

Sharing the Benefits of ACN

I’ve had the privilege and honor of caring for both of my parents.  There isn’t anywhere I would rather have been during both of those times.  Now, the question is how can I share these lessons with other people.  I have many friends, both older and younger with parents who are still alive and I’ve let them know that when they get to that point with their elders that it would be my pleasure to share my experiences.  As for joining the Amazing Care Network, you may not see the need now, but you certainly will later – guaranteed.

It’s Expensive to Die

Part of being an Amazing Care member includes a commitment to monthly savings. You establish your account and contribute a discretionary amount that you control for a future need. You can also elect to share these funds with others in your network.  In my case, people in the network knew of my need during my extended time of caring for my mom and I was the beneficiary of financial help, some of it anonymously.  Medical needs can be so expensive, all the PET scans, medications and treatments.   So I came forward with my financial needs and requested the generosity of the members who knew me to help .  After this experience, my expectation was that I would pay it forward and I would do the same when I got back on my feet.  The Bible says that you have to be a borrower and a lender and soon I will have the opportunity to be a lender again. It was humbling to be a borrower, to rely on the network for financial help to get through a life event.  For us, the cost of care in the US is very, very expensive, particularly to die well.  We relied on caregivers for 24/7 care and the cost for that care was running close to $3,000 a week.  For me, I’ve relied on the network for financial support and I look forward to being able to return the favor to someone in the network who may have a similar situation.

Lessons Learned

We learned a number of lessons from my father’s passing nine years earlier. When you’re in that situation it can be hard to process information because the focus is on the person who needs the help.  So even though you may know certain things, you don’t have the time to sit and process and you’re reactionary.  If I had it to do again, I would have relied more on professionals for advice and help to preserve not only finances but physical and mental health as well.

I’ve shared the network with people in my professional circle. My business is financial services and we touch everyone from wealth management, investments, insurance, real estate, and the like, so we’ve brought together a lot of our partners to attend these great Amazing Care Network gatherings that take place quarterly here at the San Diego chapter.  People are there from all walks of life…all shapes and sizes, ages, demographics, you name it.  It’s such a wonderful feeling to look around the room and see a cross section of our community here. That’s how I’ve been working to spread the good news about this resource.  What’s interesting to me is that in the beginning, I was always making outbound calls, “Hey, would you like to join me for a tea?”  Now, when the quarterly meetings come up, I’m finding people are calling and emailing me saying “Hey, can I bring a friend?”  That’s when I knew that the pump had been effectively primed. There’s a lot to be said for the power of grass roots efforts.  I believe that this concept is relevant to anyone who sees that power and that potential.  We’re finding people joining who want to share the resource with other friends and family as well.  It doesn’t feel like work, that’s the other thing.  It’s sharing something that I needed, still need, and others need as well.

I believe that human beings are inherently built to help other human beings. This network allows and enables them to do just that. It’s not a huge group yet, but it is a very tight group that is very dedicated and committed to one another. It’s important to have a safe environment to talk about difficult things.  There is a relief that come from sharing, even though you might not solve everything right away and to understand that you’re not alone. We are not alone.

At the last tea, there was a Korean War Veteran.  He came to me afterwards because I shared my story about my mother’s journey and how using a concierge doctor at the end of her life saved our mental and physical health and eased her suffering.  This is a grown man who has fought wars and he started to cry because the things that I had shared were so similar to his journey.  There’s probably 35-40 years between us, and he said, “Eric, I want to tell you thank you for sharing that and I love you very much.  As a man in my mid-80s, I’ve never said that to another man. To be able to have this kind of honest, intellectual, pure exchange over a very similar journey is remarkable.”  I was there when my mother took her last breath at 3:17 on the morning of March 18th, 2017 and I will remember it for the rest of my life, as will this man remember his wife’s last breath. . We’ll also never forget the resources that were provided to make that transition and passing easier and the end of the suffering. This woman had the same condition that my mother did and the physician friend of the family resource along with the concierge doctors to provide the dignity and ability to die at home and to die peacefully was invaluable.  If you have someone helping with the roadmap, it makes it understandable and makes it easier.  When I saw this man’s reaction, I knew absolutely that the network was doing something powerful.  This man is now dedicating the rest of his life to helping start a foundation for those who can’t afford the costs of a concierge doctor. His thought is that no one should die without these resources that’s how powerful this life experience has been and it’s  amazing to see.

The Bank of Good Will

The Amazing Care Network is a bank of good will, that’s what it is and everyone needs to make a withdrawal at one time or another, it’s just a question of when.



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