When the Coronavirus pandemic started this spring, 74-year-old Ms. Gower immediately thought of her neighbors in need. While seeing them in person wasn’t safe, she just picked up the phone and started dialing.
“I’m in constant conversation over the phone – there are a lot of people here, and I have their phone numbers. So I call in and check on them. They thank me for calling,” Ms. Gower said. We talk about our feelings, the election, God and everything else. My family and my helper – we sit and have conversations.”
Ms. Gower has been able to live on her own in a senior community, for more than five years with the support of Independence at Home’s Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), which was established in 1977. MSSP has 38 non-profit sites throughout California, with the largest site based right here in Long Beach. The Long Beach site is operated by SCAN Health Plan’s community service department – Independence at Home (IAH).
MSSP provides professional and client-centered case management services at no cost to eligible older adults. The program’s goal is to support older adults with remaining in their community homes of choice. Each enrolled MSSP client is linked to a Care Planner, and supportive services are arranged based on individual needs.
Ms. Gower is one of Independence at Home’s many MSSP success stories. As a former social worker, Ms. Gower understands the importance of having a support system, such as the one MSSP provides. Ms. Gower and three of her siblings are affected by achondroplasia dwarfism, which has led to a number of other health problems. Because of the resourcefulness and monthly assistance of her Care Planner, Ms. Gower has been able to thrive in her community, despite her physical challenges.
And when people need to be educated about her dwarfism, Ms. Gower doesn’t hesitate to share. “A lot of times when people are new and meet me, they don’t remember the obstacles that are in my way. I served on the Long Beach Transit Committee for seniors and the disabled and even there, no one thought of people like me. I brought a different flavor to it, and am still bringing awareness to it.”
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Ms. Gower has made the best of her situation, and formed a small group of female peers, calling themselves “Women of Shiloh,” which means “peace.” The six ladies are advocates for their senior community, and one of their highlights has been working with Councilman Al Austin to improve lighting, streets and sidewalks in their neighborhood.
In the same way that Ms. Gower supports her community, IAH uplifts and supports her needs. MSSP has been able to assist Ms. Gower with staying healthy and ensuring her identified needs, including nutrition and transportation, have been met during the pandemic.
Ms. Gower is grateful for the support of the MSSP program, and as a testament of her satisfaction, she often shares the benefits of the program with others in her community.
If you are an older adult who is age 65 or older, has Medi-Cal with an approved aid-code, and you require assistance with at least two activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, eating and mobility, please consider MSSP. Our staff are eager to assist you with remaining in your community home of choice! Call 1-866-421-1964 for more information.
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