A Conversation with Delores L. Jones, Eastover Resident

In the following interview, we speak with Delores L. Jones. Delores attends the Mother DeVeaux Adult Day Care. She formerly worked over 30 years for state agencies before retirement. Delores talks about her health care history and concerns about the future.

Delores with Cassandra DeVeaux

So I wanted you to start out with a little bit more about your background. I know you said you're living with your granddaughter now.

Delores: Oh yeah. Oh, okay. I'm Delores L Jones. And I was born in Meridian, Mississippi. I went to school in Virginia and I… graduated from nursing. And I was - - worked for the federal government since nineteen fifty-six. And worked all the time for one unit or the other. I worked for the Coast Guard. I worked for the um… the last one I finished up with in my thirty years was D-O-D.

Okay. As a nurse.

Delores: As a nurse, uh-huh. And I had a pretty nice job. I was in charge of the clinic for the last… nine years, which was really good. My family was happy about that, because I was home on weekends, and didn't have to do night, midnights, and emergency duty. But after that, I retired… in 1990, so I have been retired almost as long as I'd been working. But my husband had a heart attack so he needed me to come home. So, I retired. And I was only fifty-seven when I did retire. But I took care of him until he passed in '11 and he was eighty-five. So, I was still working… all those years and I appreciated my retirement. And I still appreciate it because I still get it. But I was just wondering if there was something else I could get.

Right. But once you retired you took care of your husband then you got to a point where you couldn't be at home by yourself or how did you end up coming to live with your granddaughter?

Delores: Well, I had cancer in 2012 and I had to… I had cancer before that too, but I survived it. And I survived this too all this time. I had the lump removed on this side in nineteen ninety-nine and then I had a lump on this side in twenty… I think it was twelve and I was living alone in Las Vegas in my home. And I sold my home and moved with my… I moved to an apartment here.

In Eastover?

Delores: No. In Columbia. I lived in Columbia when I first moved here. I came here in 2012, Christmas. And I got an apartment at Deer Meadows, which was really nice at the time. And I stayed there… from twenty twelve till last year. And I had fallen a couple of times and I had… I got arthritis in my fingers. You see all here. And I have it in my knees so bad that I can't walk without this [referring to upright walker]. And after that, my granddaughter bought a house out here in Gaston and she said, "You can come live with me". So, I now live with her. But, you know, she's not my real caregiver because she has children of her own so I'm… like my son is here. He and his wife takes - - does my shopping, and take me to the doctors and this place and that place. And I… like last week she was off on her… what you call that thing? Spring break. And then I have to stay home because I can't drive that distance to come here. And they can't come way up there to get me cause not their - - they can't come by that jurisdiction you know. So it's just kind of mix up as to… what… little bit, if I could just get a little bit of back and forth.

What would be your ideal situation?

Delores: To have the transportation that wouldn't tie her [granddaughter] up. Like she can't go nowhere. I can't go with her because she lives. She comes to school in Columbia, and she drives home to Gaston. Well, when she comes to school in the mornings, she stays till about seven o'clock at night and I can't do that. You know I can't be at somebody's house on somebody else's time until she picks me up. So I was just wondering if trans{+portation} - - just transportation, would help.

That would be a big one.

Delores: Oh that would be a big deal. To get here. 'Cause see when she go in the Summer then I'm gonna be a gypsi from probably one house to the other one, you know.

What about when you're not here at the center, who takes care of you?

Delores: Oh I can stay by myself. I have all the little conveniences. I have a pretty little one-bedroom apartment. My little refrigerator is full like she puts everything in there for me for the day. And my bathroom is right there and my clothes closet and all of my books. So I'm just like in a little one-bedroom apartment right there which is comfortable. I have no complaints with that. It's just getting back and forth.

You know I have no complaints about it but it's just my transportation and the way I would tie up her life trying to take care of me. I don't want that. That breaks my heart when I… have to… you know have to have her do all that.

Getting back and forth. Yeah, the transportation is a big one.

Delores: And I have a little car but…

You can't drive?

Delores: I can't drive. I wouldn't dare drive. I gave that up. I had sense enough to stop that.

So talk a little bit about you trying to get on Medicaid. What's going on with that?

Delores: Oh, I just called up and asked, "Could I get on?" and the lady came out and told me that I had just a tiny bit more than what they would pay.

In terms of like assets, is that what she said, or income?

Delores: Yes.

So she just said you wouldn't be eligible given how much money you're bringing in…

Delores: Yeah, uh-huh.

… even if you're retired, it's not, okay.

Delores: Which does not seem like much but for the years that I've been getting it is one big whopping good thing. You know I have no complaints about it but it's just my transportation and the way I would tie up her life trying to take care of me. I don't want that. That breaks my heart when I… have to… you know have to have her do all that stuff.

So how would Medicaid help you out?

Delores: If they could just - - if I had just transportation, I could take myself to the barbershop and get my haircut and I could have somebody comb my hair. Here take a look at it now you see it hasn't been combed this morning because I can't reach, I can't reach this arm unless I hold it with this one. I'm not complaining about that you know because I have medicine and I take that medicine. But it's just that I hate having to tie up somebody that has a job and has something to do with what I need. When I think I ought to be able to get somebody to help me.

But would they cover any kind transportation costs?

Cassandra DeVeaux: I'm not sure. But from listening I would say a caregiver. She would probably benefit from that person being near to help with just getting her ready in the morning…

That's not a family member.

Cassandra: That's not a family member. Just bringing in a caregiver to help her out to get her to a point where she's ready and she don't have to get up so early. You know she has to be ready by seven by five o'clock that's like two hours of trying to get her own self ready where if somebody could come in and help her she probably could get ready in an hour or less. So that could be something to look into. Now as for transportation I don't know if Medicare would - - Medicaid covers that. I've seen some little buses and people that maybe contract. I don't know if they contract with Medicaid. But I've seen people that do like a senior resources or something like that where they drive the seniors wherever they need to go. So that might be an option but I'm not sure. It's just probably something that we just need to look into that is an option of just kind of like a senior uber or something.

Delores: That would be really good but like in big cities we could call and pay fifty cent to the taxi and they would take you where you need to go. But since we don't have that kind of service in here you know we got a bus that I used to ride and pay a dollar, two dollars but that was from Columbia.

Yeah. And there's like a restriction on scheduling.

Delores: Yeah. You have to go when they go.

And you probably need a little bit more flexibility.

Delores: Flexibility, yeah.

Because it's out of their jurisdiction you know this is a different city. So that's my problem. Now there should be some way that you can. 

Delores: If not through those programs. But you would hope that they at least fund a program.

Cassandra: Right that's what I'm saying maybe they would support it in that nature.

Delores: Yeah. Cause we did pay you know we call up the transportation and we pay, and they would take you where you needed to go. But it's just getting on the list or whatever you have to do. That would help. It's a big mess.

Yeah because I'm sure you're not the only one that is in need of something like this. Is there anything else that you would like to share about either even if it's about the Medicare program or just trying to get you know…

Delores: Oh my Medicare is good. They pay all my insurances. I have Blue Cross. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield, their Medicare, and my hospital bills, and my medicine for my doctor, and my insurance and all of that stuff I go to the doctor whenever I need to or whenever he schedules me to do something. I go to physical therapist for my knees because they hurt all the time. But, you know I live with that. And I've gotten quite used to the pain, so it doesn't bother me.

So it sounds like it helps you manage with whatever might be going on.

Delores: Oh yeah it keeps me going. I'll be glad to get my feet out of the bed in the morning.

If you don't mind sharing, what is your age? I know you said you're retired but I don't want to assume.

Delores: Oh I'm eighty-eight. I was born in nineteen thirty-three.

So what would you say to South Carolina leaders about expanding Medicaid in the state?

Delores: Oh I think it's pretty good to the people that really, really, really need it or the people that haven't bought it as far as… the ones I've come in contact with, you know. I think they do good. I think they treat them nicely. But I'm sure there are people that are missing or skipping, you know, they fall through the traps of not being able to get Medicaid, the service you know that they need. My husband was a Veteran. And he got good service because he was a Veteran, and we had a big hospital in Detroit when we lived there. And we had a big hospital when we were up in Vegas… that they could go to. The Medicare and Veterans care and all that was very good for them. But then he passed on and all that stuff cuts off so… you deal with what you got.

Cassandra: But if you could change it. If you could tell them something to say to pull you in what would you tell them?

Delores: Well, I would say that I really do need to… to be pulled in at some point because my money is going to run out. I sold my house and I've been spending my savings. And once your savings go out then you at the mercy of whoever and whatever will take care of you, you know. Of course, my civil service job is was way back in 1990 and that check… is very small compared to what people get now, you know. And I did save, and I saved but getting close to running out. So you just -- it doesn't last forever. And if you get some help, you can make your little bit of money that you have saved work for you that you wouldn't have a broken heart.

Right. But that might be where these programs kind of help come in and you know instead of draining what you've saved to sustain otherwise you know your health would be one less thing you could worry about.

Delores: So that would be it. I don't need anything right now but it's not gonna last forever but I plan to be here forever.

What would you say this center provides for you or even your family?

Delores: It provides relief for my family, and I love it. I miss it. I was out all last week, and I was so glad to see that bus this morning.

What do you mean by "relief for you and your family"?

Delores: Well, they do you know… your family even though you got everything you need in your own little place they come, "Grandma you alright?", "Grandma you this.", "Grandma that.", you know that drives them crazy, I'm sure, but they're so used to doing it. It drives me crazy too. I say, "I'm fine, I'm fine." But it's wonderful to have somebody care for you that way.

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