Gladys spent her whole life caring for others. She raised nine children in her North Philadelphia row house. At 48 with her children grown, she went back to work as a medical assistant at local nursing homes, working 16 hours a day for 13 years to save up for a retirement in which she could maintain her independence as long as possible.
Today, Gladys has had to give up a little of that independence, but thanks to ECS Home Care services, she is able to remain in her own home.
From the comfort of her easy chair, Gladys holds court over a never-ending procession of family members and neighbors who drop by to check on her. In addition to her nine children, she has 32 grandchildren and more great grandchildren than she can count. Then there is Wilhelmina, her ECS home health aide.
“Wilhelmina has been coming for two years so she’s my child too by now,” Gladys said. “I trust her completely. I don’t worry about a thing when she’s around. She makes my life a lot easier.”
A host of health problems keep Gladys from doing everything she would like to. She suffers from hypertension, congestive heart failure, gout and arthritis. Her mind is still sharp, but she does get forgetful from time to time. Homemaker services, nursing visits and overall case management help her maintain a clean and safe home and stay on track with doctor’s appointments and medications.
Like many Philadelphia seniors, Gladys lives below the poverty line and sometimes has difficulty affording food and medications. ECS helps with referrals to services that can help. A small grant from the Female Association of Philadelphia helps pay for essentials.
One thing Gladys still insists on doing is cooking. She prepares her own meals and, with a little help in the kitchen, still makes special dishes for family gatherings and church suppers.
“I always try to be very careful with whatever I do, but I’m still cooking,” Gladys said. “I cook everything. I love to eat and I love to feed people. That’s just my nature.”
Living in the same home since 1959, Gladys has seen a lot of change in her neighborhood. For many years, her area was stricken with blight, but with the property boom around nearby Temple University, several houses on her block are being renovated. Although she occasionally gets offers to sell her home, she’s not going anywhere. With several of her children living within a few blocks and additional assistance from ECS, she doesn’t have to.
“I’ve taken care of my children and grandchildren and today it’s paying off. I can’t be too lonely,” Gladys said. “I thank God for them and I thank God for ECS.”