Benny Tarber

Preparing for the future with Memory Care Navigators

Looking back, Estene Tarber said there were signs that something wasn’t quite right with her husband Benny. There was the mix-up while taking care of the pool, the misspelled words, the feeling that he was just a little “off.”

But it really hit home when Benny got lost driving, even with his trusty GPS navigation. The couple visited a neurologist who confirmed what Estene suspected. Her husband of 40 years had Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis that left the couple reeling.

Estene dove into researching the disease.

“I was looking into everything I could find because I knew nothing. I just felt so alone,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. It was very upsetting and frustrating to me.”

After attending an educational talk, she learned about Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigator program. After an in-home meeting with navigator Sherry Wagoner, Estene began to feel less alone and more equipped to face the path ahead.

“When Sherry came it was like a godsend,” Estene said. “She was amazing. She had so much knowledge, she kind of opened my eyes to everything… she was also very compassionate in explaining what steps are next.”

Estene and Benny began facing those next steps together, like they had always done – through careers, raising a family and life in general.

A life well lived

Benny, a veteran, had enjoyed a long career as an accounting manager at the Arizona Department of Economic Security. He had once been honored as the Employee of the Year for the state of Arizona. Estene had worked as a high school guidance counselor.

The couple raised four children between them and would go on to have 11 grandchildren. In between work and family, the couple found a passion for playing tennis together.

With the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Estene and Benny worked with Sherry and the navigator program to figure out how their new life would look.

The program is designed for families just like the Tarbers. Navigators assist clients, family members and caregivers as they make their way through the maze of emotional, psychological and physical effects of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

With guidance from navigators, clients develop a plan of care tailored to their needs. Clients also rely on navigators to serve as a liaison between them and families, physicians, and community services. Navigators make home visits and are available by phone.

Clients praise navigators like Sherry for providing so many connections – and a caring shoulder to lean on – at such critical times in their lives. In developing a plan for the Tarbers, Sherry made referrals to elder care attorneys and day programs that could provide interaction for Benny and respite for Estene. She also discussed options for care as Benny’s needs changed.

Knowledge is power

After the home visit, Sherry followed up with phone calls, which gave Estene peace of mind.

“I really appreciated that and it does make me feel like if I needed to call her she would be more than happy to talk with me,” Estene said.

Estene recommends the Memory Care Navigator program no matter where people are in their journey.

“Knowledge is power,” she said. “The best thing that you could do for yourself and your loved one is to find out from people who know what’s going on, so you’ll know better what to do.”

About Memory Care Navigator

Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigator program can help those with memory loss and their family members and friends to identify support, services and resources that may be helpful in navigating the dementia journey. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 623-832-9300, or visit

The service is provided at no charge to clients through the generosity of Sun Health Foundation donors, and is supported by USAA, Sundt Foundation and the John F. Long Foundation.

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