A native Cincinnatian, Carol, 73, is known to all as someone who is always giving back.
Carol spent her career working in schools and social service agencies helping others access needed services and benefits. She is an active member of her church, as well as an organization that helps enrich the lives of other older adults. Her crowning achievement, however, is her large family – she’s one of five brothers and sisters, had two children of her own, and now has 10 great-grandchildren, plus countless other nieces, nephews and those she refers to as “bonus” children.
But as often happens, there came a point when the helper was the one who needed help. In March 2013, Carol needed knee replacement surgery. Though she repeated her mantra daily, “I can do this. I can do this,” she finally had to admit to herself she was struggling – her independence – and her ability to continuing helping others – was threatened.
Help came from the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program (ESP). Having ESP services made it possible for Carol to remain independent and in her own home.
ESP makes this possible for Carol and more than 8,200 other Hamilton County older adults. Through ESP, Carol receives home-delivered meals and an electronic monitoring system (in case she falls or needs help and can’t make it to the phone). But, for Carol, it’s ESP’s homecare assistance service that makes the most difference. Homecare assistance is help with routine, daily activities most of us take for granted: taking a shower, getting dressed, or fixing a meal.
Carol speaks highly of the aides who come into her home to assist her. She also talks of a partnership with her ESP care manger, Theresa. Each ESP client has a care manager, like Theresa, who assesses individual needs and creates a plan of care to address those needs. No two care plans are the same and ESP services are flexible so they can adapt as a client’s needs change.
For Carol, the most important result of ESP’s services is that with this renewed sense of independence, she was able to continue her purpose of helping others.
That help has included advocating for her building to be a polling location for its residents; caregiving for her brother who has a disability and now lives in her same building; and assisting another older adult who was the target of a fraud.
“Most seniors want our own independence and to do for ourselves,” Carol said. And to do for others.
Once a helper, always a helper. That partnership Carol speaks of with her care manager, Theresa, works both ways. Carol likes to share information with Theresa about other programs and services she’s heard about. Who knows? Maybe those programs and services could help other people?
“If I can’t do for myself (and others), I’m no longer viable,” Carol says.
Click here to watch our video where Carol - and other clients and caregivers - talk about what the help they receive from Hamilton County ESP means to them.