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Pictured, from left, are right Haley Cain, Cathy Malcolm, Howes Aging Services Director Missy Daugherty and Bobbi Halterman. / (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

Mission of new Howes Aging Services is to help elderly, disabled people continue to reside safely in their homes

BUCKHANNON – A new business in Buckhannon aims to help people stay in their own, familiar homes rather than live in nursing homes.

Missy Daugherty, founder and director of Howes Aging Services, said the business received its state certification on Oct. 31, 2023, and is now accepting new clients who can benefit from their case management services.

“We are an Aged and Disabled Waiver case management company that offers services to the elderly and disabled in five counties – Upshur, Randolph, Lewis, Barbour and Webster counties,” Daugherty said. “The ADW is a home care program that helps elderly and disabled people remain independent in their homes. You have a case manager who helps assess your needs, and then they connect you with the resources to fill whatever those needs may be.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the Aged and Disabled Waiver program is a long-term care option that provides in-home care and community help. ADW programs enable people to remain in — or return to — their homes. Services in the program emphasize “choice, self-reliance, respect and community care.”

Daugherty said most people are trying to avoid nursing homes, whether they are disabled or elderly.

“The needs can vary from case to case,” Daugherty said. “If it’s an elderly person, the need could be a light house cleaning and help going to the store. If it’s a younger disabled person who wants to educate themselves, we can hook them up with adult learning classes.”

People interested in the ADW program must meet the West Virginia Medicaid Waiver financial eligibility rules and be a West Virginia resident 18 years or older. Howes Aging Services can help get the setup process started.

“People can contact us, and we’ll point them in the right direction; if not, they can go to their doctor and ask for what’s called a Medical Necessity Evaluation Request Form,” Daugherty said. “Doctors have those forms, and that starts the whole process and gets them in contact with us so we can hook them up with other services.”

Daugherty began learning to navigate these programs while helping her grandparents find services.

“We’ll help people navigate Medicaid, which is confusing – it’s a lot of labyrinths and mazes,” Daughtery said. “I wouldn’t have known anything about it if I hadn’t helped take care of my grandparents. I adored them dearly, and that’s where the name Howes Aging Services came from: my grandparents, Kathy and Dayton Howes.”

Her grandmother had dementia and Alzheimer’s, but neither grandparent wanted to transition to a nursing home.

“They were very proud, and they worked very hard; my grandpa was a fiddle maker, and my grandma was a legal secretary, and they saved every day,” Daugherty said. “They drove the same cars for 20 years, and when my grandma got Alzheimer’s, and it got to the point where we thought we would have to put her in a nursing home, they found out they had too much money and too much land.”

Daugherty said her grandparents possessed 300 acres and would have had to sell everything except for five acres and their house, but they did not want to do that.

“They worked their whole lives, and they wanted to leave it to their family — that was the whole point of them working hard and keeping it all those years, not just to sell it so they could get into a nursing home,” she said.

Daugherty was able to avoid putting her grandparents in a nursing home, but it required the help of other family members and friends.

“It was very frustrating, eye-opening and shocking because I didn’t realize it would be such a confusing, disheartening process,” Daugherty said. “Now I want to help people navigate these programs so they don’t have the same experience I had.”

Howes Aging Services may be reached by phone at 304-406-3296, and its address is 99 Edmiston Way, Suite 211, in Buckhannon. More information about the assistance Howes Aging Services can provide may be found on its website here or on its Facebook page.

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