“My name is Mary. I have had home health care for about four years and I am sure I could have been in a nursing home but that just wasn’t what I had in mind for the rest of my life. When I found out I could have a housekeeper and nurse once a week and meals on wheels for my lunch I said “no” to the nursing home suggestion. I then inquired about Lifeline and that was brought in and I wear the button around my neck in case of an emergency. I was fortunate to have a friend who saw to it that I was put on the “elderly waiver” program and I live alone so I have been blessed. Now, for the reasons it is so important to me to be at home.Â I have seven adult children living all across the U.S. and I have been very ill at times. I have had two heart attacks and by-pass surgery back in 1989 and 90. It took quite some time to get over that, but when I did it was just in time for Gallbladder surgery in 2003. From there it went to breast cancer, and treatments, and that returned three times in three years and finally a mastectomy was done. I had children who came to visit me often. I am now plagued with arthritis and breathing difficulty and have to use oxygen. I can’t walk without a walker due to the arthritis in hips, lower spine, and left leg. The pain gets bad but at least a friend will take me for a ride, or I can go fishing which I love. I have my little dog who is the best companion ever. He sleeps either with me, or next to my bed. He is never more than three feet from me unless he is asleep on the couch. Now, could I have that in a nursing home? I think not. Could my children bring their families and come to visit and stay over night at a nursing home? All but one have children and grandchildren also. I write some poetry…..and I belong to the International Poets Society, and I do some genealogy work. Could I have my computer and printer as well as all of my genealogy files at a nursing home? I am so grateful to have the assistance I need to stay in my own home so I can do the things I enjoy for as long as I can. And I truly enjoy when my extra room is filled with family.”
Arnie, age 57, a power wheelchair user, has a number of disabilities including diabetes. He doesn’t read or write so he relies on people he trusts to review materials with him. Arnie, currently lives in his own apartment with CDAC (Consumer Directed Attendant Care) attendants under the “MR Waiver.” He does his own grocery shopping and laundry. His two attendants get him up and ready in the morning, and help him with bathing and bedtime. They do meal preparation and house cleaning. Arnie works at Goodwill, and is active in the community. It wasn’t always this way. For four years following a fall, Arnie lived in a nursing home despite the fact that his doctor said that he could live independently if he had help in the morning and night. It took Arnie nearly two years, working intensely with a center for independent living, to get through all of the “hoops and red tape” so that he could live independently again. Four things had to come together: getting the MR Waiver funding to come through, finding & training CDAC attendants, finding an accessible apartment, and having money for a down-payment on the apartment. In June, 2007, Arnie was the happiest man on the face of the earth.
Norma is 65-years-old and lives in rural Iowa with her husband of over 50 years. Norma faces daily challenges including severe pain, congestive heart failure, limited ability to stand, and her daily medications include over 20 prescriptions. Her husband and primary caregiver quit his job to stay home and take care of her to prevent Norma from going to a nursing home. Like many Iowa homes, Norma’s house was built in the late 30s with steep narrow steps, making it nearly impossible for her to navigate with out help from others. On her 65th birthday, she enrolled in Case Management and became eligible for the Medicaid Elderly Waiver. Now a nurse monitors Norma’s health and assists with managing her medicines, a homemaker and health aide visit weekly to help with bathing and household chores, she receives home-delivered meals and has an emergency response system so she can be at home alone. With these services in place, and knowing that his wife was well cared for, Norma’s husband was able to return to work. In addition, Norma is now able to leave her home without the assistance of others with the help of a motorized wheelchair and an exterior ramp on her home. All of these changes have restored not only her quality of life, but have ensured that she is now able to fully participate in the life of her community.