You can’t always prepare for getting older and what may come, but Keith knew some of what to expect from experience.
He spent several years as the main caregiver for his mother, who had serious health problems as she got older. At the time, Keith was going to school and working in transit, but he decided to drop out of school to dedicate more time to caring for his ailing mother. As her health declined and Keith needed more help to care for her, she also began to receive professional home care services, thanks to New York’s Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP), which provides home care to low-income seniors.
Recently, Keith had hip replacement surgery and found himself in need of home care. He knew about the EISEP program because of his mother. Keith lives alone in East Flatbush and receives home care services for four hours a day, seven days a week. He gets help with laundry, shopping, dressing, going to doctors’ appointments and reminders for his medications. Keith says, “They basically get done what needs to be done.
I really appreciate that they keep things clean and dust free—it’s important because I have allergies.”
Keith feels that aging is not all about vacation and relaxation. He says, “You still need to get up and go, whether you feel like it or not.” According to Keith, “I get around pretty well still, but sometimes need a little extra help.” He recently started dialysis, which is very time-consuming. He sometimes gets dizzy with being rushed around and wishes that he could get more hours of home care to take him to his appointments.
“I’m thankful for what I’ve got. It’s very good that we have this program in New York,” Keith emphasizes. He’s also happy that some things about how we care for one another in America have improved since the time he cared for his mother. Before the Family Medical Leave Act allowed time off from work to care for an ailing family member, you could get fired for trying to take a leave of absence—and that’s just what happened to Keith. “I ended up getting fired from my job because I had a sick parent,” explains Keith. “I thought that wasn’t fair, and that’s also why my income is low now.”
EISEP covers seniors who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford to pay for home care out-of-pocket. About EISEP, Keith says, “It’s a blessing. If I had to pay, it would kill me.”