Philadelphia, PA • Since 1819

Arlene and Stephen

Arlene is a 93-year-old widow whose monthly income of $1,167 derives from Social Security, SNAP and a monthly stipend from FHBS. She ran an antique jewelry business in Center City with her late husband; they raised two sons. Arlene has multiple health issues including circulatory problems, depression and loss of appetite. She is homebound and mostly bed bound because she has to keep her legs elevated.

Arlene’s story is sad and continues to spiral downward. One of her sons was murdered in his place of business many years ago. Her home was in the son’s name and, upon his death, his wife forced her to move out. Arlene lived in subsidized senior housing for seven years while she and the other son, Stephen, went to court to regain the property.

They finally succeeded, but at the cost of buying the house from the daughter-in-law. Arlene returned to live there by herself while Stephen lived and worked in suburbs. Everyday Stephen came to Arlene’s home before and after work to prepare her meals and help with household chores. The trip took about 45 minutes each way. He also helped with expenses. 

Then Stephen was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. As a result, his girlfriend walked out, and he eventually lost his job. The girlfriend has a daughter who was like a granddaughter to Arlene, so the breakup had an emotional impact on her as well.

Stephen eventually moved in with his mother. He held hope that he would survive the cancer so he tried not to cash his 401K. But the household bills, which amount to almost $3,000/month, forced him to do so. This same hope caused him to delay applying for SSD. When he finally did, he was rejected and had to request a hearing in order to finally receive $1,307/month, less than if he had applied at the time he was no longer able to work. The added income saved their house from foreclosure but still is not enough to cover all of the expenses.

If Stephen dies, Arlene will have to move to a nursing home because she needs daily care and there will be no one to provide it. If Stephen dies, Arlene will no longer have a reason to live.

FHBS is here to help. We are providing a Personal Emergency Response System, and a $50 pharmacy stipend for a six-month period. We also recently started paying quarterly for incontinence supplies. Arlene’s story is sad, but she deserves dignity and care especially in this difficult time.