Warren County ESP helps a daughter keep her promise

Friday, May 13, 2016

Center photo: Kay and Mildred receive daily meals from Warren County ESP.

Before her father, Oran, died more than four years ago, Kay made a promise: “I promised him Mom wouldn’t go to a rest home.” Every day since then has been a struggle, but Kay has kept her promise.

At the time, Oran and her mother, Mildred, were already living with Kay. But Kay’s caregiving journey started when her parents lived independently. Oran had begun showing signs of dementia in the 1970s. As her parents aged, their care needs increased.

“That’s really where my journey started,” Kay said. “Anything I needed, I had to go looking for.” Kay learned from her parents’ neighbor, that with a referral from their physician, the health department could provide help with personal care. An STNA (state tested nursing assistant), Sue, began coming twice a week to give Oran a bath.

Through Sue, the family learned about the Warren County Elderly Services Program. In 2007, the couple started receiving home-delivered meals. As their physical and cognitive health needs changed, additional services were added, including home care assistance, an emergency response system, and medical transportation.

When Oran took a fall in January 2012, his doctors recommended a move to a nursing home. He was 88 and even with help from the health department and ESP, it was no longer safe for Oran and Mildred to live alone without supervision.

Kay decided to move her parents into her Lebanon home. Over the next five months, Oran’s health declined and he began receiving hospice care. It was during that time, in an effort to put her father’s mind at ease, that Kay made her promise.

Mildred, 93, still lives with Kay. Joking about their living arrangement, Kay says they are “the Golden Girls.”

As is common with many caregivers, Kay’s own health has declined in the years she has cared for her parents. At 69, she has recurring sciatica and COPD. A nurse – covered through private insurance – visits regularly to monitor Kay’s health.

When Kay had knee replacement surgery in 2014, her ESP Care Manager, Brooke, worried that Kay would not follow her doctor’s orders to rest. Brooke temporarily increased Kay and Mildred’s services so Kay could focus on her recovery and therapy, and not worry about her mother.

“If I have a problem, I know who to call,” says Kay. “I have [Brooke] on speed dial.”

Through Warren County ESP, Kay and Mildred receive home-delivered meals, home care assistance, and an emergency response system for Mildred, who often forgets to use her walker and is prone to getting up in the middle of the night.

Kay also receives a few hours of respite each week so she can run errands, tend to her own health, or just have a few hours alone. The health department continues to help with bathing.

Kay says she would be trapped were it not for the network of care she and her mother receive. “I do not know what I would do without them,” Kay says. “I don’t think I could do it without them. I promised my Dad I would take care of Mom. As long as I can do it, she’s going to stay here. This is her home.”

About Warren County ESP

The Warren County Elderly Services Program helps some 2,400 eligible older adults remain safe and independent in their homes each year.  The program provides services such as home-delivered meals, personal care, and transporation to medical appointments.  Warren County ESP is funded primarily by local tax dollars via a senior services levy.  The program would not exist without the support of county taxpayers.

At the end of 2016, the tax levy that funds the Warren County ESP will expire and must go before the voters by November in order for the program to continue. Voters have shown strong support for the levy, approving it every time it has appeared on the ballot since the program began in 2002. In 2015, the levy raised $6.7 million at a cost to homeowners of $35.59 per $100,000 of real estate value.

For more information about the Warren County Elderly Services program: get a copy of the program's brochure; read about the program on COA's website; read the program's 2015 annual report; read about local tax levies that support in-home care for eligible older adults.