With the help from BaptistCare, Betty is overcoming the challenges caused by frailty and a loss of vision to live a full and happy life.
At the age of 89, Betty Marks’ mind and her sense of independence are as sharp as ever. But a series of health problems mean that managing her chores and navigating her home at Murwillumbah on NSW’s far north coast is no longer as easy as it once was. Macular degeneration has seen her lose most of the vision from her left eye. Betty underwent shoulder and knee replacements and had a plate inserted into her wrist, following a nasty fall four years ago.
Rather than giving up independence and moving into supported accommodation, Betty’s clever solution has been to draw on BaptistCare’s Home Services to transform her home and provide support for her daily life. BaptistCare has arranged for home modifications to help compensate for her loss of vision and she receives cleaning and shopping support.
“It’s not just the big things that BaptistCare helps with,” explains Betty.
“I was sitting in a recliner recently and [my Care Facilitator] Wendy from BaptistCare asked why I didn’t put the foot support up. I explained that because of my injury I didn’t have the strength in my right hand to pull the lever. Wendy explained I could purchase through my Home Care Package an electric recliner and I have now bought one. It’s just wonderful because I just have to push a button and it goes every which way.”
While she has lived on the far north coast for nearly 50 years, Betty was born in the New England town of Inverell. She spent much of her youth in nearby Emmaville. When she finished school; she kept the books for the local garage, worked at the telephone exchange, wrote a column for The Glen Innes Examiner and played piano in the local orchestra.
Betty then met her future husband Stewart, a teacher, and thanks to his postings had the chance to live in towns including Gloucester and Tamworth. The pair had three children together and spent most of their married life in Macksville, where Stewart taught at the school and Betty was a clerical assistant in the library.
When Stewart died eight years ago, Betty moved to Murwillumbah to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Her daughter Jenny sadly passed away in 2017.
Betty now enjoys her life and lives in her own home on the outskirts of town. But she says her health problems have made life more difficult. The last thing she wants is another fall.
Clever solutions for independent living
Betty says a host of changes to her home proposed by BaptistCare and funded via her Home Care Package have made a big difference to her life.
“Because of my eyesight, I have got lights everywhere and I now have a big phone with large numbers,” she says. “I have a phone in the lounge room, one by the kitchen sink and one in the bedroom, so I don’t have to hurry and fall over again. They are little things, but they are very important to me. And I wouldn’t even have known they were available without BaptistCare’s help.”
BaptistCare also arranged for the installation of steps and a rail in Betty’s rocky backyard. These additions have given her the confidence to step foot in it again. “It gives me a lot more freedom outside and I like that,” she says.
In addition to the home modifications, Betty receives four hours of assistance each week from BaptistCare helper, Julie. “Julie comes and changes my bed and washes the sheets and cleans the house,” says Betty. “Then she takes me shopping and down to the bank or out for lunch. It’s just wonderful.”
With her living situation sorted, Betty is looking forward to spending more time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She has been spending time with the local Blind and Sight Impaired Society. Another big event on her horizon is her upcoming 90th birthday!
She says she would recommend BaptistCare to anyone especially those wanting independence at home whilst still receiving support.
“You couldn’t get nicer people,” she says. “Wendy is helpful and very efficient, and Julie and I get on really, really well. All I could do is recommend BaptistCare. I know there’s lots of other organisations out there, but I can’t fault them. They are so helpful.”
YouChoose by BaptistCare offers people in aged care a range of services to help them to remain socially active and to maintain and develop friendships. To find out more, contact the BaptistCare Customer Engagement Centre on 1300 275 227 or visit www.youchoose.org.au.