Aggie Parrish, our 2016 Independence Award winner, lives alone, in a quiet, tidy apartment. It was the GESMV HOME Choice program that helped Aggie make her dream of independence a reality. Before she moved into the apartment last June, Aggie had spent the last 23 years in a nursing home.
Life hasn’t been easy for Aggie: she was married at 16 to a much older man, and had six children who were later removed by Children Services. After battling epilepsy and mental health issues for years, she was hospitalized for three months following what she describes as a seizure and nervous breakdown. After the hospital, Aggie was placed into a nursing home.
Her life there was isolating, as Aggie found herself surrounded by older adults, many who suffered from dementia and late-stage illnesses. The noise and constant presence of others triggered anxiety—and sometimes, seizures.
Change came when a social worker asked Aggie if she’d ever considered living on her own. HOME Choice transition coordinator Kathy Eifert helped Aggie to furnish and set up her apartment. “Living on her own was the first decision Aggie was really ever able to make,” Eifert said.
HOME (Helping Ohioans Move – Expanding) Choice assists people of all ages with disabilities who currently live in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, immediate care facilities for persons with developmental disabilities, residential facilities for children, and hospitals.
Aggie sees a doctor and a visiting nurse, and receives help with cleaning and shopping. Since she’s moved into her own apartment, Aggie hasn’t had any seizures. “Sometimes, I used to think about getting out on my own. I had never been on my own, and would think, ‘I’m going to try it,” she said.
“It feels great.”