Below are the full stories of the clients and families featured in the Butler County Elderly Services Program (ESP) 2019 Annual Report. These stories illustrate the impact ESP has on older adults in Butler County. But it’s not only older adults who benefit from this program. It helps family caregivers who may be struggling to juggle other family and career responsibilities with their caregiving duties. With peace of mind that their loved-one is receiving the care and support they need, family caregivers can be more present and focused at work; something area employers are sure to appreciate.
When you’ve spent your life helping others, needing help yourself can be difficult. But Butler County ESP client, Margot, welcomes the help. It means she can stay in her home. As she felt her world shrinking due to the loss of her sight, ESP’s Uplift service, independent living assistance and electronic monitoring system have been lifelines for Margot. “The quality of life I have now would not be what it is without this help.”
Susan – a daughter, mom, wife, professional, and elected official – is passionate about Council on Aging (COA) and the Butler County Elderly Services Program (ESP).
ESP helped Susan and her husband, Michael, care for Susan’s father, Richard, during a difficult time.
Richard had diabetes, “and everything that goes along with it,” Susan explained. Her father, 78, had been declining in health for about 10 years, but it was a stubborn sore on his foot that really rocked the family’s world.
Richard couldn’t drive, but needed to go to the hospital seven days a week for treatments that took hours each day. Susan and Michael took turns juggling work, kids and other responsibilities so they could get Richard to his appointments. But the appointments were scheduled to last at least six weeks and Susan found herself working nights and weekends just to catch up.
So, when hospital staff recommended COA, Susan saw her lifeline. Through COA Susan was able to enroll her father in Butler County ESP. The program provided medical transportation to get Richard to and from his appointments, freeing up Susan and Michael to focus on their family and work.
“Dad was feeling like a burden and I was thinking about taking a leave of absence from work,” Susan said. “We were so grateful for the help.”
Susan experienced both sides of ESP. On one hand, ESP provided the support Richard needed so he could heal and remain independent in his home. On the other, it gave Susan and her family the peace of mind and support they needed to be able to continue on with other important parts of their lives.
“I will always vote for [the senior services] levy,” Susan said. “Until someone lives through it, they just don’t understand.”
Shirley was the primary caregiver for her mother, Maxine, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years prior to her passing in April 2020. For the last year and 10 months of her life, Maxine, 90, lived in Shirley’s home.
Using her nursing background and knowing she would be caring 24/7 for her mother, Shirley called Butler County’s Elderly Services Program (BCESP) for help
BCESP provided Shirley and her mother with many things to make life easier. The outdoor ramp that was installed was very helpful. Shirley remembers, “When ESP staff saw [the makeshift ramp I was using], they got me a new one immediately. It was an absolute godsend, and I was able to get my mother in and out through all four seasons without any difficulty.”
BCESP was also able to install grab bars that Maxine could use when she was able to walk. Shirley says, “I am getting up in years, I’m 70 years old, and I couldn’t lift her.” Using the bars, Maxine was able to do things on her own and remain relatively independent.
Perhaps the most valuable service BCESP provided was helping to combat the taxing effects of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. BCESP provided respite care for Maxine so Shirley could have some time off each month to manage other responsibilities and tend to her own well-being. Shirley doesn’t know how she would have made it without the reprieve. “It really helped me to get away for a time, knowing that my mother was cared for by someone I knew and trusted.”
As Shirley is adjusting to a life without a mother she feels lucky to have had, she is “extremely grateful and indebted to ESP” for helping make the most of the last months of her life.