Lidiya’s Story

Lidiya Kovarskaya was born into a Jewish family on June 9, 1936 in Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At the outbreak of WWII in Russia in 1941, she attended kindergarten just outside of Moscow. As a child, she was exposed to the war occurring around her and was even forced to hide in the trenches in the area where she attended school due to heavy bombing by the Wehrmacht Air Forces. There was an epidemic of scarlet fever in the trenches and Lidiya became infected. After she recovered, Lidiya and her mother were able to evacuate to the mountains of Sverdlovsk, Ural, where many other Jews were also in hiding. They suffered from unsanitary conditions, lack of food, water and medical help during their journey to Ural. Lidiya’s father was drafted into the army before this took place and he was killed in combat in 1942. Lidiya is an only child. Once the war was over in 1945, Lidiya lived with her grandparents after her mother remarried and moved to another country. Lidiya had to change her last name due to discrimination she faced as anti-Semitism was still present in Russian daily living and culture. Lidiya got married and had one daughter. Despite the obstacles in her life stemming from being Jewish, she persevered and obtained a PHD in Chemistry and was a successful chemist. The Soviet government did not allow her to leave Russia for 10 years. Lidiya consistently applied to leave and was denied many times. Lidiya’s husband died from cancer a year before she finally got permission to leave the Soviet Union. She immigrated to the US in 1988 with her daughter, her one year old granddaughter, and her small dog she cherished named Gina.

Lidiya moved to the Bethesda area right after coming to the US and has not moved since. She speaks Russian and English fluently. She continued her work as a chemist successfully. Lidiya’s daughter developed multiple sclerosis and Lidiya retired, moved in with her, and took care of her as a devoted mother. Her granddaughter moved to China and her daughter later died from multiple sclerosis. In 2011, Lidiya had a massive heart attack and shortly after this, she sought the help of the Jewish Social Service Agency’s (JSSA) Holocaust Survivor Benefit program where she had an aide for 15 hours a week helping her with bathing, dressing, medical appointments and grocery shopping. She also received financial assistance, medical supplies and case management from JSSA via her case manager, Sofia Presman. She received Meals on Wheels for 5 days a week. In 2017, she had a stroke. She was hospitalized and the required a stay at a rehabilitation center for some time recovering before deciding to be discharged back home to her Bethesda apartment. Lidiya has expressive and receptive aphasia resulting from her stroke. She also suffers from pain and numbness on one side of her body which causes her to need more help with daily living. JSSA referred Lidiya to the Medical Adult Daycare (MADC) waiver and the Community First Choice (CFC) program funded by Maryland Department of Health (MDH) where she met Supports Planner, Kimberly Quinn.

Lidiya did not enjoy attending MADC, but was approved for 19 hours a week of caregiving in addition to her 15 hours a week from JSSA. Lidiya has help in her apartment nearly every day of the week. Kimberly also helped Lidiya apply for other services. The CFC program provided a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) and an environmental assessment. In addition to this, Kimberly was able to assist her with setting up in home speech therapy, as well as occupational and physical therapy sessions. Kimberly later assisted Lidiya with obtaining several equipment items including a cane, modified eating utensils, a rollator, toilet safety frame and bedside rail. Despite her speech and cognitive deficits, Lidiya is a capable advocate for herself and has been able to find appropriate doctors for her various health problems including a cardiologist, gastroentereologist, primary care physician, rheumatologist, vision doctor and dentist. She keeps detailed records of her past medical history and is organized with her various medical and program appointments. Kimberly has assisted Lidiya with finding a visiting CRNP as her primary care team. As Lidiya’s health has declined, it has become more tiring for her to leave her apartment. Kimberly also helped Lidiya to advocate for pureed meals via Meals on Wheels as she experiences difficulties with swallowing due to the aftereffects of her stroke. She enjoys the visits from Meals on Wheels workers. Lidiya has a friendly and kind personality.

Lidiya was happy to learn recently that she has been selected from a registry and invited to apply for the Community Options Waiver at 83 years of age. Kimberly is assisting Lidiya with this application process. Lidiya is interested in living in an Assisted Living Facility in the future in the Montgomery County area, a service the waiver offers that the CFC program does not. She is comforted to know that this may be a service available to her should her health decline further and she is no longer able to manage her apartment. Lidiya reports it is nice “to feel safe and cared for” by having her team in her life consisting of her caregiver named Maka (who works with her 34 hours a week), Sofia, Kimberly and her Nurse Monitor, Elaine Pompeii. Lidiya states that the CFC program and other programs have helped her immensely as she has no informal support due to family passing away or moving.