Help for disabled available
Every day Jean Lincoln finds humor in life. Often the laughter comes through the eyes and observations of her 28-year-old son, Guy.
At 19 months, Guy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Jean knew immediately that her son’s disability would change her life in profound ways. There were difficult periods. Guy was only one of four children. Still, Jean never considered anything less than caring for her son herself.
“There are periods where it gets rough, but somehow it works. I’ve never felt burdened,” Jean said.
When Guy was younger, Jean never thought there was assistance available for people in their situation. Then, through a worker at Child Protective Services, she found out that Guy would be eligible, when he reached 18, for some programs under Adult Protective Services.
“I was the sole supporter, and as Guy has aged, he takes more care now then he did as a child,” Jean explained. “To know that there is an agency on the side of the disabled is very important. It’s comforting to know there is an overseer out there who has periodic contact so somebody with a disability has an advocate.”
For South Lake Tahoe the name of the overseer is Terri Boldt. Boldt is a social worker in charge of APS on the South Shore. Boldt handles 20 to 30 calls a day. As the only staff in the Tahoe office, Boldt also responds to many community calls that wouldn’t usually fall under the umbrella of APS.
Boldt responds to calls about elder abuse, dependent adults like Guy, and for adults who no longer can care for themselves.
Jean received help for her son through In Home Supportive Services or IHSS. The program is funded by federal, state, and El Dorado County monies – the largest share coming from the state. In the last three months, Boldt has had an on-going caseload of 50 IHSS cases at South Shore. On the West Slope, there are more than 400.
In IHSS cases Boldt tries to find ways for disabled adults to stay in their home. The program pays helpers to come into the client’s home and perform services like cleaning, running errands, and cooking. The extent of the person’s disability determines how many hours they’re eligible for.
“The maximum is eight hours a day,” Boldt said. “Once they need 24-hour care, they’re off the county program. They would then have to move into a skilled nursing facility.”
In Jean’s case, the program pays her for a certain amount of the hours she spends caring for Guy. Obviously, Jean’s job is 24-hours, but Boldt said she can only authorize certain types of care from a family member.
“We can’t pay them for things they would normally do for the family anyway,” Boldt explained.
To be eligible a two-person household must have less than $1,200 a month coming in, Boldt said. Unlike welfare for able-bodied people, the IHSS program has no time limits.
“The program is a huge help. Anytime you’re making extra money it helps,” Jean said.
IHSS also allows Jean some time for herself.
“My mother used to be my support system. She was really my backbone. She would come and stay with Guy, but she’s passed on. Time away is essential. A helper will come in and I might just go to my room for awhile. I don’t have to go anywhere,” she said.
The front part of the Lincoln’s home is Guy’s room. His toys and electronic games fill every nook of the living room. An electronic pinball machine gets half the couch. Guy’s love of music is clear. A CD player is easily accessible from his mattress on the floor. As Jean talked strands of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” performed by The Coasters played in the background.
“I’ve learned from Guy’s humor, love of music, and his extremely kind and patient heart. Clearly, we live with the seriousness of Guy’s situation,” Jean said. “But my goal is to laugh as much as possible every day. You have to laugh.”
Jean believes that working with the disabled before her son came along helped her to cope and gave her the optimism that she had the skills to deal with the situation.
“I’d hope that anybody in my type of situation would realize and be encouraged to continue because there is help out there,” Jean said.
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