Bethesda Foundation Inc.

Changing lives, saving lives.

Independence through a Little Button

Home Connections Helps Seniors Live at Home Safely

Louise GibsonWhat do spaghetti and meatballs, homemade pie and “Judge Judy” have in common? These are a few of Louise Gibson’s favorite things. And at a spry 91 years of age, she continues to experience these simple joys in the comfort of her own home – safely, securely and worry free. TriHealth Home Connections and a Community Outreach Grant from the Bethesda Foundation are making this possible.

The grant subsidizes subscriptions to TriHealth Home Connections, a personal emergency response service, for 100 low income frail seniors. According to program manager Kim Tither-Margroum, all subscribers have at least one acute or chronic illness, and 65 percent are over 80 years old.

“Without this support, many people would be living in an institutional setting, no longer able to live independently,” she explains. The funding also helps current subscribers keep their personal emergency units when they no longer qualify for government-sponsored programs due to cutbacks. For Gibson, it has allowed her to stay in her home of 37 years.

Worry-free Living

“I’m perfectly happy here,” she says, “long as I can do my own thing.” Her 5-foot frame sits tall in a multi-floral chair. A lifetime of memories decorate an entire wall of her living room.

A widow of 25 years, Gibson is accustomed to living by herself. But as the years have passed, doing so has proven risky at times. Daughter Janis Wakeman suggested TriHealth Home

Connections about five years ago after her mother fainted and had to be taken to the hospital. While reluctant at first, Gibson agreed to wear the little white button.

“I said, ‘That’s for old people,’ ” Gibson recalls. But she came to understand how the service gave her and her family peace of mind. “The truth is, I feel safe. I feel like I have another person with me all the time.” She also likes that her children don’t have to worry about her as much. Wakeman agrees.

“My biggest fear is her falling,” she confesses. “We can’t be with her all the time. If she does need something, she can just push that button and she won’t be lying on the floor for two days.”

Living independently also keeps Gibson in familiar surroundings, allowing her to confidently continue activities such as taking out her garbage, doing laundry and cooking every day. Others benefit from her independence as well. Two days a week, Gibson volunteers at the Hyde Park Senior Center.

Without Foundation support, many people wouldn’t be able to afford the service due to limited fixed incomes, Tither-Margroum notes. Gibson is happy that this is a bill she doesn’t have to worry about. “I would be lost without it,” she says.

“She’s happiest here,” Wakeman declares, smiling across the room at her mom. And while Gibson has never had to push the button for help, she understands the value of having the service.

“I know it’s there.”