At eighty-nine (ninety now?) year’s old, Betty Marks has experienced more than most. Born in the outback town of Inverell and growing up in nearby Emmaville, she is no stranger to hard work.
Straight out of school Betty was keeping the books for the local garage, working at the telephone exchange, writing a column for The Glen Innes Examiner and playing piano in the local orchestra.
At only 16 years old Betty met her future husband, Stewart, a teacher who was devoted to both Betty and his students.
The couple followed his teaching opportunities through outback towns like Gloucester and Tamworth before settling in Macksville on the North Coast of NSW. There Stewart taught at the local school and Betty worked as a clerical assistant in the library, while also raising three children.
“He was a dedicated schoolteacher but every Sunday there was no marking books or preparing lessons. We had every Sunday at the beach or somewhere else with the children,” Betty says. When Stewart passed in 2010(?), Betty moved to Murwillumbah to be closer to her children and grandchildren, with whom she has close relationships.
However when her daughter Jenny passed away in 2017, a second rock in her life was gone.
This, combined with health conditions including macular degeneration resulting in the loss of most of the vision in her left eye, and multiple surgeries from a nasty fall in 2014(?), meant Betty had lost some of her confidence.
While her extended family were there to support her, Betty was determined to remain independent, turning to BaptistCare at home.
She says the cleaning and shopping support combined with modifications BaptistCare made to her home have made a big difference to her life, especially given it is funded by the government through her Home Care Package.
“If I didn’t have this help, I’d probably be in one of those aged care facilities, which I am not going to be ever,” Betty laughs defiantly.
How BaptistCare helps:
Betty is partnered with a BaptistCare facilitator, Wendy, whose role it is to develop and manage a plan for keeping her active, mobile and independent.
“Being able to spend time in the garden is very important to Betty and she was finding that she felt very unsafe accessing the garden,” Wendy says. “So we had home modifications and new steps and rails put in and now Betty can access the garden whenever she wants. She can water the garden and potter around like she used to.” “It does give me a lot more freedom outside and I like that,” Betty says.
Other home modifications made by BaptistCare include additional lights and multiple large phones with large numbers. “Because of my eyesight, I now have lights everywhere, as well as three phones so I don’t have to hurry and potentially fall over again,” she says. “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.”
Betty was also struggling to use her manual recliner so BaptistCare facilitated the purchase of a new electric recliner for her, also through the Home Care Package. “It’s just wonderful because I just have to push a button and it goes every which way,” Betty 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 staying active and mobile well into her nineties.
She is enjoying spending more time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as with the local Vision Australia group.
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.