Current Caregiving Stories

Dad's Loss of Vision Brings Father and Daughter Together Caregiver Linda Errington and Her Dad

Ronald Nelson is a Worcester-area resident who, although needing 24-hour care, is able to live at home with the support of his full-time caregiver - daughter Linda Errington - and Caregiver Homes of Massachusetts. At 82 years old, Ron has been legally blind for 11 years and must also cope with his emphysema and cardiac health issues. His increasing loss of vision and other health issues made it more and more difficult to live alone and in October 2005 he moved in with his daughter, Millbury, Mass. resident Linda Errington.

Before moving into Linda’s home, Ron had been living in senior housing in Westborough and enjoyed simple pleasures such as his daily walks and Sunday morning drives to Friendly’s for breakfast. He has also had his share of adventures – owning race horses and skydiving in Orange, Mass. with his renowned skydiver-son, Paul Nelson. In spite of that adventurous lifestyle, Ron says, “It’s walking that I miss more than anything.”

Things took a turn for the worse for Ron and Linda in October 2008 when Linda was laid off from her job and her dad suffered a heart attack a few months later. Linda knew that she needed financial support and information about caring for her Dad, who could not safely be left alone any longer. Linda explains, “Full-time caregiving was an adjustment, but the thought of my dad going to a nursing home didn’t sit well with me. I think the quality of care is better at home, where it’s one-on-one.”

Caregiver Homes Steps In to Help Keep Dad's Care at Home

Linda learned about community-based care organization, Caregiver Homes of Massachusetts through a friend of her sister-in-law. “At first, I was a little skeptical, Linda commented, you don’t get something for nothing! So I talked to someone else about Caregiver Homes and looked at the website and that boosted my confidence.”

Mary Gill, Worcester-area Program Manager of Caregiver Homes, contacted Linda and explained the program basics, including how her Dad would qualify, the stipend that Linda would receive as caregiver and the care team support both father and daughter would receive. “But I’m a procrastinator," Linda adds. "Thank goodness that Mary Gill was persistent – in a nice way! If Mary hadn’t helped my dad get on MassHealth, we wouldn’t be in the program now.” Once Ron was on MassHealth, it took about three weeks for Ron to be admitted to Caregiver Homes with Linda as his caregiver.

Now, Ron’s health is stable. Because he is on a Medicaid Waiver, he was able to choose to have a companion come and read to him a few hours each week. Ron says that he misses being able to read and that it’s difficult for an older person to learn Braille. He enjoys treating Linda to breakfast, Wednesday night dinners at his son’s house, and throwing the ball to the dogs they’ve adopted through Cocker Spaniel Rescue of New England – a cause and organization that are Linda’s passion. The dogs, in turn, have adopted Ron and provide him with companionship and comfort.

Ron’s spirited nature, vivid storytelling, keen sense of humor and amazing recall are traits that help him each day as he strives to retain his independence. He appreciates his daughter Linda’s sacrifice and says “I love my kids – children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.”

Linda doesn’t know how she would have done it without Caregiver Homes and her care team, Registered Nurse Donna Carlin and Care Manager Kalina Cloutier: “I love them (Donna and Kalina). And when I have a question about Dad’s health, that’s the nice thing about having Donna there, she’s just a phone call away.”

Linda adds, “I think people are coming back to the old ways. This program gives those people who do want their parents in their life, an opportunity to care for them.”

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