James is…

My personal senior citizen story.

I’m 77 years old. I live in Easthampton, MA.

Health

Until the age of 52 I was in excellent health, but in 1998 I experienced chest pains that I thought were just indigestion. A visit to the Doctor and an ambulance ride to the nearby hospital ended up in a diagnosis of a clogged artery in my heart. A day later an angioplasty confirmed this and a stent was placed in my heart. I have taken a baby aspirin and metoprolol since then and have had no further heart related issues. After my mother’s death from polycystic kidney disease in 1975 my test for PKD was positive. In 2010 my kidney function level required me to start peritoneal dialysis and in Nov. 2012 I received a deceased donor’s kidney. I take prograf and  prednisone daily to suppress my immune system. My third kidney continues to work well. Over the last 10 years I have developed afib and after taking coumadin for a number of years I now take Elequis. I have sleep apnea ( I sleep with an AVS machine at night ). I have an atonic bladder and self cath 4 times a day. I regularly get squamous cell carcinomas removed from my hands, forearms and scalp. I have a long term fatigue issue. Lately I’ve been dealing with lower back pain, foot pain, peripheral neuropathy, GI tract issues and fecal incontinence. In total, they make my daily life a challenge.

Benefits and assistance

I collect a modest amount of Social Security income but not enough to cover my monthly expenses.

I have Medicare and MassHealth insurance and my only out of pocket insurance expenses are small co-pays for prescriptions. I have a Section 8 housing voucher. I have SNAP benefits. I have fuel assistance. These benefits help me get to the break even point each month. I did have self-employment income until recently and my modest savings are invested in Treasury Bills that pay more interest than bank savings accounts.

Other

I live in a rent subsidized senior community and have a nice 1 BR apartment. It is on one level and has a washer and dryer, a walk in shower, support bars on the bathroom walls, and central air ( important stuff for seniors ).

I meet twice a week with a “geezer” group of male friends.

I do some volunteer work where I live.

I host a program called Pioneer Valley Life that I record at Easthampton’s e-media public access TV station. The Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts runs north and south from Greenfield to Springfield and for 10-20 miles east and west of the Connecticut River. Read more about the Pioneer Valley on Wikipedia.

 

Image – Old Ned by F. Stuart Silver