Better Housing Means Better Quality of Life for Indy Senior

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What does “home” mean to you? For Indianapolis native Paul Martin, home is not a place, but a person.

“To be honest. I haven’t felt like I’ve been at home since my wife passed away. It’ll be 17 years in September,” he said.

Paul, 65, has lived most of his life in Central Indiana. Originally from the east side of Indianapolis, he also has lived on the west side, south side, and as far north as Westfield. After his wife’s death from lung cancer, he spent several years in Kentucky before returning to Indy, Avon, and most recently, Danville.  

“I’ve done many, many things, but mostly warehousing and assembly,” he said. “I took early retirement from the Target Distribution Center on Indy’s west side. But every time I moved—for quite a while now—I’ve been blindly getting into worse and worse living situations.”

When CICOA case manager Melynda Yater met Paul, he had a history of heart attack, COPD, emphysema, arthritis, kidney disease, and depression. He was living in Avon in a small apartment complex that offered few amenities and was poorly managed.

“The shower was concrete walls with mold, and it rarely had hot water,” Melynda said. “Paul had been taking only sink baths for years, and his skin was suffering. He also did not have an air conditioner. This made it difficult for him to do anything during the summer except sit in front of a box fan.” 

Finding senior housing that feels like home

Being familiar with low-income, senior housing, Melynda offered Paul a list of alternative apartment complexes. This was in early 2020, just before the pandemic started. After COVID restrictions were lifted in 2021, Paul began working with his attendant care provider to get organized and packed. Then, with support from donors through CICOA’s Client Assistance Fund, Paul got the help he needed to move from Avon into his current one-bedroom apartment in Danville.

The move radically changed Paul’s life. His apartment now has hot water, a clean, mold-free bathroom, and air conditioning—for which Paul is thankful! The building is non-smoking, so Paul used this as incentive to quit. Melynda found him a shower chair and lift chair, and Paul bought a new bed and couch, free from the smell of smoke. He gets fresh, frozen meals delivered and has lost weight. He wants to start an exercise program to increase his strength.

If he does not feel quite at home yet, he is at least putting down some roots.

“I’ve made some friends here,” Paul said. Sometimes we’ll have cookouts or play card games. Every Wednesday, we play bingo. I like it here, and I really don’t want to move again.”

“CICOA has been the best thing that has happened to me in 20 years,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be where I am without your help.”

In Central Indiana, CICOA connects seniors to resources, including housing, that help them live with independence, dignity and quality of life. Your gift to the Client Assistance Fund can help seniors move into housing that fits their needs.

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