After 34 years, Ben lives alone
When Cindy Hill gave birth to her eldest son, Ben, everything seemed perfect at first. But Ben was born with a heart defect, which required surgery at the age of two. Hill thought life would go on for her son like most little boys, but from Ben’s early childhood she saw that he wasn’t quite like other kids.
“Ben always seemed more fascinated by objects than people,” she recalls. “He played repetitively, like spinning the wheels of his toy car, opening and closing the doors. He spoke in a few words until a special kindergarten helped him catch up. “
Air fried chicken with auto shut off function.At the age of three, Ben Hill was diagnosed with autism. Then, at the age of 9, he was diagnosed with 22Q, or velocardio-facial syndrome, a micro-deletion on his 22sd chromosome that causes Ben’s heart, speech and learning problems.
“Oddly enough, it was a relief to have a diagnosis because we could know what to expect,” Cindy says. “All of his ‘random’ health problems were linked!
It may have been a relief from a health standpoint, but Cindy now had to care for her eldest son her entire life (Ben’s brother Tim is four years younger than him). “I’ve always been worried about Ben’s safety – social and physical – because he doesn’t listen to danger,” she says.
The family faced Ben’s challenges head-on and adopted a “full inclusion” plan with mainstream schools (and one-on-one education plan) to develop his skills with his peers. Ben joined the Boy Scouts, went to Sunday school and field trips, attended class parties, and joined special interest clubs.
“Inclusion is common today, but it was a new approach in the 1990s,” explains Cindy. “Ben needed family advocacy and community support to be successful. He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 2008 – what a proud moment for our family, watching graduate Ben walk through the stage with his graduate brother, Tim.
Even after graduating, Ben still depended on Cindy to take care of him and meet his basic needs. But recently, Ben has expressed interest in becoming more independent. Thanks to 21st The technology of the century, Cindy was finally able to bring Ben to a more independent life.
Ben opens his lock without a key. It can also lock when it goes out.At 34, Ben left the nest (or, rather, Cindy left the nest) and he lives alone in the house in Shaker Heights where he grew up. Cindy now also lives alone, in an apartment nearby. on Fairhill Road.
Computers, video conferencing, sensors and automated devices help make Ben’s independent life possible, along with a regular schedule and frequent visits from Mom to “check in”.
It was difficult for both of them at times, but they each found their own new routines.
Ben says he enjoys being alone and spends his time reading books, browsing Google Maps and his favorite hobby: “I watch movies,” he says. “Japanese films with subtitles. “
Cindy says she enjoys hiking, biking and kayaking in her spare time. Eventually, she says she plans to travel the world. “I really feel like adventure after being safe to take care of Ben,” she says.
Safety rails installed in the bathroomTowards independence
It took almost a year to put everything in place so that Ben could function on his own, and Cindy could feel comfortable leaving her adult child for the first time in their lives.
It all started with the Cuyahoga County Developmental Disorders Board (Cuyahoga DD), an organization the Hills have worked with for years, making recommendations. The agency is well versed in all new technologies, even going so far as to take a demo model on the road to illustrate the options available.
Cindy and Ben worked with Timothy Sommer, a physiotherapist and home modification safety consultant with the Cuyahoga DD, to make recommendations on safety features. Additionally, Safe At Home worked with the Hills to make changes like handrails and grab bars in the bathroom.
“We received a lot of home security additions after a thorough assessment of Ben’s needs,” says Cindy. “He has new guard rails and new handrails inside, on the stairs, in the tub and by the garage where he goes to the backyard swing. He also got an extension ramp for the outside steps of the street for his van.
Other modifications to keep Ben safe include motion detectors, keyless locks and door monitors. There are motion sensors in Ben’s bedroom and bathroom to detect if he doesn’t wake up or go to bed, or if he slips and falls in the bathroom. A drug dispenser that holds a month’s worth of pills times the drugs and sets off alarms for up to an hour until he gets them back. The cookware switches off automatically; and the house has a hard-wired security system for fires and break-ins.
The technology works well for Ben, says Cindy. “Ben is rocking this transition to an independent life,” she exclaims. “He loves the easy-to-use technological equipment presented to him for his new lifestyle. They play for him with heartwarming reliability.
Cindy hired SafeinHome, which uses assistive technology, remote monitoring and 24-hour live support to protect at-risk clients living alone like Ben. The company installed much of the equipment
Ben likes to chat with the staff.Ben checks in every night at 8:30 p.m. via a video monitor to chat live with one of his SafeinHome remote care team members – Jose, Sandra or Alyssa – and he can tap his screen to reach them anytime between 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., seven days a week.
The team can wake Ben or he can alert them if there’s a problem – a thunderstorm, noise, an opening door or smoke, ”explains Cindy, adding that the smoke and monoxide detectors in carbon are part of the SafeinHome package. “And they have a call tree that they use – the emergency person paid to come to the house, the parent, and the emergency services.”
“These are nice people to talk to,” says Ben. “SafeinHome reassures me because they are watching over me. And even though he admits he enjoys living alone, Ben misses his mother. “I missed you,” he said to Cindy. “I felt sad.”
Cindy says technology, and even basic security tools, has also helped reassure her.
“The best part is that Ben feels safe and familiar in his family home, and I can delegate my Mama Bear radar 24/7 to assistants,” says Cindy, 64. “I am getting older so I prefer to explore this option now to ensure that his needs are expressed.
Cindy admits that she frequently checks in with Ben and that they have a Plan B in place. “This technology is really new, which is why I live only three kilometers away,” she says. “Ben and I have a pioneering spirit. We have back-up cell phones, landlines and a Facebook portal, just in case. Redundant systems are good because Ben is my only Ben.
Cindy says she also structured Ben’s day with training in independent living skills through housework and cooking with the auto-stop cooking equipment. “Ben is gaining confidence and independence,” she says, adding that she also encourages Ben to work on his fine motor skills through cooking and art activities in the home art studio.
As they complete the transition, Ben is now on a job training program three days a week at Friends for Life in Midtown.
Cindy and Ben recently hired home helper DeJohn Dixon from Home Watch Caregivers in Beachwood for extra socialization, activities, and help with housework. Cindy says Dixon, a former high school linebacker, even took Ben to Lifetime Fitness to do some strength training, and they take daily nature walks.
Because Ben is 34 and has asked for a more independent life, a waiver of individual Medicaid options covers the services Ben needs for his health and safety, including Friends for Life and Home Watch.
Cindy says the changes have gotten easier as the two finally begin to adjust to their new lives.