Elders Living at Home Program
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“It was like coming out of hell into paradise.”
Six years ago, sixty-five year old Dorothy spent every day worrying whether her ticket number would be called that night for a bed at Pine Street Inn. She had worked hard since she was twelve years old, and always liked to be productive, but now all of her energy was devoted to just surviving. Dorothy had been staying with her son and daughter-in-law, but mounting family conflict made it impossible for her to stay in their home any longer. Two of her sons had died young, and she felt she was losing her last son. This was too much loss to bear and she fell into a depression. With nowhere to go, Dorothy started sleeping at the Pine Street Inn.
One day at Pine Street, Dorothy connected with a caseworker from the Elders Living at Home Program (ELAHP), and everything changed for the better. “It was like coming out of hell into paradise,” she says. ELAHP provided Dorothy with a bed to sleep in every night, and Dorothy was able to start to focus on taking care of herself again. ELAHP helped Dorothy get to doctors’ appointments, obtain disability income, and apply for permanent and affordable housing. She was diagnosed with arthritis and sciatica, and started taking medications that allowed her to be more active. She also started counseling which helped with her depression. “They were there for you for everything you needed,” she says of ELAHP.
ELAHP helped Dorothy find an apartment in Brockton. Once she had the stability of a place to live, Dorothy felt ready to start working again. Her ELAHP caseworker connected Dorothy with Mass Rehab, an agency that trains people with disabilities and connects them with jobs. Dorothy got a position as a driver for people with disabilities. She enjoyed the interaction with people, but unfortunately she fell and broke her leg after two weeks on the job. During her recovery, Dorothy reached out to her son and started to mend the relationship with her family. Dorothy didn’t know anyone in Brockton, and as her relationship with her family improved, she started to look for housing closer to them. With the help of ELAHP, Dorothy found an apartment on Tremont Street, near her son, daughter, and four of her grandchildren. She says, “I love being here. I’m very close to a lot of things where I an get out and walk and keep moving.”
Today, Dorothy’s days are filled with social and physical activity. She is passionately involved in Massachusetts Senior Action Committee and this year will be traveling to Washington DC for a week of activism. She goes to yoga at the YMCA, attends weekly talks about senior’s health at the Reggie Lewis gym in Roxbury, walks on the track, and is involved in a senior’s group affiliated with the AIDS Action Committee. Dorothy is also involved in a group that advocates against disparities in healthcare. Dorothy doesn’t know what she would have done without the assistance of ELAHP. She says, “Thank goodness they were there. It’s not a good feeling to be homeless. They were like my guardian angels.”
Dorothy is very concerned about the government cutting funding for programs for the elderly, and encourages all seniors to become politically involved. “People need to go to Washington. I know that nothing is going to change unless you get out and do something.”