Disabled, seniors worry about cuts to in-home care

Disabled, seniors worry about cuts to in-home care

Associated Press | January 7, 2012 | By Judy Lin

Born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that prevents muscle development, Anthony Muli has never walked and his doctors never expected him to live past age 2.

Now, at 24, he’s a sports fanatic and a whiz on the computer. His room inside his grandmother’s house in the Northern California town of Loomis, east of Sacramento, is decorated with San Francisco 49ers and Sacramento Kings memorabilia.

He enjoys as much of life as he can with the help of his 72-year-old grandmother and caretaker, Jo Ellen Zerr, who does everything from cleaning his tracheotomy tube to driving him to his medical appointments.

The level of care is made possible in large part because of California’s In-Home Supportive Services program, which helps about 435,000 California seniors and people with disabilities. The program pays caretakers, many of them family members, hourly wages and benefits between $8 and $14.78 to help people get dressed, cook and bathe. For her work, Kerr, a retired clerk, receives about $2,800 a month before taxes to do a job she would do for free.

“I would take care of him regardless,” she said.

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