SHERIDAN — Janis Jordan started losing her mobility as her age crept toward 85 years old. In moments of pushing for her independence, her daughter, Lydia Yentes, served as an advocate for her mother to sustain that independence while also receiving at-home aid.
The Help at Home program “filled the void” for Jordan, who now delights in visits from her 23-year-old home care provider, Dayna Gates.
The social interaction paired with a helping hand around the house keeps Jordan living in the comforts of her home and allowed for Yentes to move to Nebraska to help take care of her elderly in-laws.
The Hub on Smith, formerly the Sheridan Senior Center, started Help at Home in the early 1970s. While not a new program in the community, Jordan still sees a gap for her neighbors who remain unfamiliar with the service.
“I try to share and tell them, but I don’t know that they get it,” Jordan said. “They say, ‘We can still do this and we can still do that,’ but somehow the PR needs to maybe improve.”
Jordan sees a clear refusal for services from her younger sister and brother-in-law, who she said need services at home despite still running a business in their 80s and 90s.
While she sees the need and their deterrence of a program like Help at Home, pinpointing specific reasons remains difficult.
“I really haven’t been able to identify the barriers, but whatever they are, they’re huge to where people will not reach out even though they’re desperate,” Jordan said.
Jordan said if her sister and brother-in-law would consider the consequences of not having the service, maybe that would change their minds.
“Why wait until you get completely desperate or fall or (are) completely dependent?” Jordan said. “Why not do some things to prevent it?”
Help at Home director Lois Bell said people in the elderly community fear losing their independence.
“I think a little bit of it could possibly be that they’re giving up independence, when in reality, they’re enhancing independence,” Bell said. “That takes a little bit of wrapping your brain around that, redirecting your thinking that you’ve had for a while.”
Gates serves not only as a helper, but also as a source of motivation and education for Jordan. Daily tasks include household cleaning, shopping and running errands for Jordan specifically, but she also completes laundry and household duties for other clients she serves through the program.
“I like that we can mix generations,” Jordan said. “Like I said, I’m almost 85 and Dayna tells me she’s 23, so she keeps me on my toes, and I can learn things from her and hopefully she can learn some things from me.”
Jordan also receives home-delivered meals, set up and funded again by her daughter. This helps Jordan relieve the burden of transportation or cooking for herself.
State and federal funding supplemented by required community input sustains Help at Home. The Hub’s development director, Rindy West, said contributions from companies like Cloud Peak in the last year help sustain the service. The program serves more than 200 elderly residents of Sheridan, including veterans through a contract with the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
A waiting list exists for those seeking participation in Help at Home.
Jordan hopes the program will continue reaching elderly folks in need of a hand up to preserve their independence of living at home.