Elderly Services Program Client Stories

Butler County | Clinton County | Hamilton County | Warren County

Butler County: Ruth

ESP client Ruth
Ruth, Butler County ESP client
ESP client Ruth with care manager Sarah
Ruth with her Butler County ESP care manager, Sarah

Ruth still sees him standing silent and still. He was a patient in the brain damage ward at Longview State Hospital where she was a music therapist. In eight years, the elderly WWI veteran had not
responded to a single sound. Now he was saluting and standing at attention after only one song – The Star Spangled Banner.

“It still makes me cry to think about it,” Ruth said. “That’s the power of music.”

Ruth inherited the power of music from her grandfather, a bugler in the US Army during the Spanish-American War. She still has his bugle and her own memories from six years in the Women’s
Army Corps Band. She played for troops across the US and at venues such as the Waldorf Astoria. She even met comedian Jimmy Durante when they performed during Armed Forces Appreciation Week on the television show I’ve Got a Secret.

She shared her love of music and passion for serving at the hospital where she recruited talented musicians to form a band that performed for their fellow patients

The Miami University alumna continued serving others for more than 20 years as a social worker for Butler County, helping people in her home community. She had no idea that one day she’d
have a social worker of her own, her care manager Sarah.

Severe arthritis and a muscle disease have made it impossible for Ruth to stay completely independent in the home where she has lived since 1964. The Butler County Elderly Services Program (BCESP) provides a weekly visit from a homemaker who helps with cleaning and other household chores. Ruth also receives transportation to medical appointments and emergency medical response service in the event of a fall. The program covered home safety modifications including repairing steps, installing a hand rail and pest control.

“I appreciate the services so much, “ Ruth said. “It’s just a blessing to be able to stay in my home
with their help. I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

Ruth values having somebody there when she needsit. “I know Sarah would be here in an instant,”
she said. “It’s reassuring to know that there is a person that knows me and knows my needs.”


Clinton County: Herbert

ESP client Herbert
Herbert, Clinton County ESP Client with daughter Nancy and Bella. 

Expecting visitors, Herbert stood on the ramp to his front door, smiling in welcome, a “never met a stranger” kind of guy. Even his dog, Bella, smiles, and then looks up at him, adoringly.

At 87, Herbert lives alone with Bella and is content, although he is grieving the loss of his wife of 61 years, Louise, who died in December 2013. At that time, his daughter Nancy and son-in-law Gary assumed he needed help and they came to stay with him.

For years, though, he had been the caregiver as his wife’s health declined and he felt he could handle things on his own.

“I assumed we were either going to stay with him or he was going to move in with us,” Nancy said. “But after a while, he let us know, ‘I’m not a baby. I can stay here by myself.’” “He nicely gave us the boot,” Gary said.

Still, Herbert’s family is protective because he is not as strong as he was. He uses a walker and scooter and he is deaf, having lost his hearing from a childhood illness.

From the Clinton County Elderly Services Program, he has an emergency response device and housekeeping help for one hour a day, five days a week. When Nancy or Gary can’t be with Herbert, the daily call from the home health aide is reassuring.

But Nancy is there a lot and she and her father clearly share a special bond. They speak easily to each other with sign language.

“He’s always been my hero,” Nancy said. “I was a daddy’s girl. He has never said he can’t do something. And he has always worked very hard. If the car was broken, he’d work on it till it was fixed. And if it wasn’t fixed, he’d say, ‘Time to go to work,’ and he’d walk.”

Work was at several different dry cleaners over the years and when the Clinton County Air Force Base was active, Herbert was in demand as the man who could make a uniform look super sharp. Signing to Nancy and laughing, he said, “I’ve pressed the pants of generals.”

Herbert is the father of three, grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of seven. He loved to hunt and fish with friends and children. He’s a gentle soul at heart who now gets a kick out of feeding squirrels, who will come to him and eat out of his hand.

“We just can’t say enough about the help we have gotten from the program for my dad and my
mom before him,” Nancy said. “He wants to stay here. He wants to be with his family.”


Hamilton County: Colleen and Mike

ESP Clients Mike and Colleen
"We don’t give up. We’ve talked about that. If it had been me this happened to, I know he would have never given up either.”

Nearly every day, Colleen hooks up her husband, Mike, to a home dialysis machine and begins the process that substitutes for his failed kidneys. She had to go through weeks of training, but it’s a big improvement over the ordeal of getting Mike to and from a dialysis clinic.

Their lives are nothing like they imagined they would be when they retired. They had started to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren. But all that changed when Mike, 70, suffered complications following what was supposed to be routine surgery. He was left with brain damage, permanent kidney damage, partial paralysis, and other health problems.

Colleen, 68, became a full-time caregiver. Although both have pensions, the costs for Mike’s care are so high – nearly $30,000 last year – that they could not afford to have someone come in regularly to help. Their daughters help, but the needs never end. A nursing home was not an option, as far as Colleen was concerned. She and Mike did not want to live apart, no matterr what.

The solution was the Elderly Services Program. Their services include home-delivered meals (for both of them), a aide who comes to bathe Mike three times a week and an aide two afternoons a week so Colleen can get a few hours of unbroken sleep.

Gradually, Mike is improving. He has almost recovered from the brain damage and he recently received a prosthesis for his amputated leg. Colleen – always resourceful – plans to sell their unneeded medical equipment so she can buy a set of parallel bars and help Mike learn to walk again.

“His memory has returned; it’s great to sit and talk with him again,” Colleen said. “He’s learning to tell time. Little by little, things are coming back. We don’t give up. We’ve talked about that. If it had been me this happened to, I know he would have never given up either.”


Warren County: Shirley

ESP client Shirley

"I like having my own place. I can do my own thing. They say you do better if you stay in your
own place.”

Shirley first used the Elderly Services Program in 2007 when she needed help with medical transportation. Then she went off the program for several years, but came on again in 2012.

“I’ve had a lot of health problems in the past year,” Shirley said. “I’ve always had a lot of pep, so it’s been hard. But it’s why I called for more services. I didn’t want my kids to have to leave their work to take care of me.”

Internal bleeding, shingles, and liver failure sent Shirley to the hospital emergency department four times in the past year. Her ESP services include home-delivered meals, an emergency response device and medical transportation.

Home-delivered meals have been a real help, Shirley said, but she wants to continue to do her own housekeeping for as long as she can.

“It’s good for me to run the sweeper,” she said. “It keeps me moving.”

It’s important to Shirley to have her own home. Her childhood was not easy and she had to make her own way in the world. Her father left the family when she and her sister were babies. After their mother died of tuberculosis, the sisters moved from one relative’s home to another’s. Shirley received a scholarship to attend the University of Cincinnati, where she studied accounting. She worked at a bank for four years and later did child care for several families.

She eventually had five children of her own, one of whom died, and now has 10 grandchildren and two great- grandchildren. She dotes on her family and is grateful for their help. She also enjoys the children who live in her apartment complex, especially the little daughter of a neighbor who moved away but sent her a special card.

“I like children,” she said. “I have a lot of patience with them.”

“I know at some point I won’t be able to live by myself,” Shirley said. “Who’s to say? My liver could go any day. But for now, I like having my own place. I can do my own thing. They say you do better if you stay in your own place.”

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