“My mom was getting 80 hours a month through IHSS. Then, for over a year, she was getting nothing at all.”

Sylvia Aguilar (left) with her mother and client, Alfonsina Torres

Caregiver Sylvia Aguilar got help from the UDW Advocacy Council, a group made up of caregivers in each county that help providers and clients navigate the IHSS program. Read her story:

My mother had open heart surgery 12 years ago and hasn’t been the same since. Today she is 81-years-old, and she’s starting to become forgetful. She can’t hear well, she walks with a walker and even then not very far, and there isn’t much she can do on her own—if she tries to cook, she leaves the stove on, or her hands shake so bad she spills all her food. She’s also been battling diabetes for 50 years.

Since the surgery, my daughter and I have been her primary caregivers. I work in the daytime, waking her up in the morning, preparing her meals, and taking her to her doctor’s appointments. My daughter works at night, cleaning the house and making sure she gets into bed okay.

Up until 2012 my mom was getting 80 hours a month through IHSS. Then, for over a year, she was getting nothing at all.

Her hours were revoked when a new social worker came by her house and refused to let me be with her during an assessment. I tried to tell him that she needed an advocate, that she didn’t understand the questions, but he wouldn’t let me stay. With no one there to help my mom answer the questions, the social worker decided that she was self-sufficient and didn’t need IHSS. Later, he told me that since I’m Mexican I should take care of my mom for free, because our culture values family.

I didn’t know what to do. My daughter and I continued to care for my mom—without pay—for over a year. The loss of income meant that I couldn’t keep up with my bills.

That all changed when I participated in a UDW event and I met Richard, a staff member who works with the Advocacy Council. He helped me fill out the paperwork to have my mother re-assessed. We successfully fought to have her hours reinstated, and now she gets 40 hours a month through IHSS. It’s not nearly as many as she needs, but it helps us get by.

My daughter and I were also awarded an entire year of back-pay for the time we worked without pay! With that money I was able to pay off the bills that had been adding up since my mom lost her hours—thanks to Richard and the Advocacy Council.

My mother worked in this country for 50 years, and she never asked for handouts or went on welfare. She deserves to be taken care of. We all do.

Do you need help getting more hours of care for your client or loved one? Contact your local UDW office to get in touch with the Advocacy Council in your area.

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