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Quality of Life

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It’s only natural for senior citizens to want to live in their own homes for as long as they can, and services offered by Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore are making this possible for more and more seniors every year.

Leroy Manlove, now 89 years old, wanted to age gracefully at home, but he’s slowing down and suffers from dementia as well. His daughter, Beth Altemus, realized he needed some help with day-to-day activities—putting healthy meals together, doing the laundry, keeping the house looking neat and sometimes taking him out for some light grocery shopping. So she turned to Easter Seals and its In-Home Services program.

“We had used other services in the past, but they didn’t always work out well,” Altemus says. “We started out slowly with Easter Seals—10 hours a week—but we eventually went up to 25 to 30 hours as Dad became more comfortable and looked forward to the Easter Seals’ assistants coming over.”

Easter Seals is licensed by the state of Delaware as a personal assistance services agency, says Kate Antisavage, director of In-Home Services. The 35 caregivers on her staff can do almost anything around a client’s home—as long as it isn’t medical, like dispensing prescriptions, she says. Most of the program’s clients are elderly, usually
in their 80s or 90s, and some have long-term disabilities or are recovering from surgery and need help for only a few months.

“When people call, we go out and do a free home assessment and determine what they need,” Antisavage says. “The level of service varies. Some people may need two hours a couple of days a week, and others need almost round-the-clock care.”

Most of the program’s clients pay their own way, but the services are covered by long-term care insurance policies, and sometimes by Medicaid or the Veterans Administration. “In any situation, in-home services cost less than staying in a nursing home or assisted-living facility,” Antisavage says.

In-Home Services are but one of a package of Easter Seals programs that benefit adults, especially the elderly. Center-based adult day care provides a daily option for a senior or person with a physical disability to participate in group activities with a nurse on site to provide care as needed. Personal Attendant Services can help persons with disabilities find a personal caregiver to assist them at home, work or school. The Resource and Technology Demonstration Center counsels persons with disabilities who are looking for accessible solutions at home or work. The Finance Your Independence program helps persons get low-interest loans on assistive devices, accessible vans or home modifications. 

In addition to supporting the elderly, many times these same programs serve younger and middle-age adults who have acquired disabilities through accidents or disease.

Easter Seals also offers support to caregivers by providing counseling through the caregiver resource center and funds to purchase respite care through the Delaware Lifespan Respite Care Network.

All of the caregivers on the In-Home Services staff are Easter Seals employees, and each of them has undergone extensive screening before being hired. All caregivers have received CPR and first aid training. “We look for people that we feel comfortable sending into a loved one’s home,” Antisavage says.

Altemus is pleased with the assistance her father is receiving from Easter Seals’ In-Home Services. “Knowing dad was no longer home by himself, knowing that he was happy and that he liked his caregiver, knowing that he was receiving balanced meals and social interaction as well … all of that gives me peace of mind,” she says.

Her father happily offers his own endorsement. “If your needs are as significant as mine, you should seriously consider it,” he says. “It took a lot of problems off my feet. I know I can count on things.”