Elsie is 71 years old and lives with her husband. Last year her mother died and on top of that she has had heart problems and experienced a stroke. Elsie was referred into our Hospital Aftercare Service and was very upset while telling our support worker all that had happened to her. Elsie’s husband also has health issues including COPD and arthritis. They were struggling both physically and psychologically and felt very tired and worried. Her husband told said that Elsie had been crying and feeling very hopeless prior to our assessment. Her mobility was very restricted and she was clearly very worried and depressed.
Until the stroke, Elsie had been physically active enjoying looking after her home and going on long walks. Now Elsie could only manage a few steps and couldn’t lift her left arm at all. Elsie, being almost 10 years younger than her husband, had been able to manage and care for him, but now the roles were reversed, and he was not well enough to cope with looking after the house and Elsie’s needs. Elsie felt frightened and negative about the future. They have children but none of them live locally and although the children do their best to visit as often as possible, the couple needed immediate practical support.
They don’t have a lot of money and their income is just over the threshold for pension credit payments. They didn’t know what benefits they might be entitled to, and they were not aware of what support was available to them in the community, as they had been completely independent prior to Elsie’s period of ill health.
Age UK Lancashire undertook a full assessment including a benefits check and immediately sent off for an Attendance Allowance form for Elsie. She has since heard that this will be granted in August of this year. This will make an immediate financial difference to the couple and it will enable them to pay for a cleaner. We also referred Elsie to the Stroke Association so she was able to receive the appropriate advice and information for her condition. The representative from the Stroke Association was very helpful and this has helped reduce anxiety for Elsie, as this was something that had been worrying her.
Our support worker suggested that she consider paying for a physio privately. Elsie had a small amount of savings and decided to pay for some weekly physio sessions. Elsie was frustrated, to start with, that she seemed to be making such slow progress but we were able to reassure her and had supported other clients who had had strokes and that they all made considerable progress over the course of our visits. Every week, our support worked reassured her that she was getting stronger and this, eventually, became evident not only physically but in the improvement in her emotional wellbeing.
The weekly physio sessions have made a huge difference to Elsie. She has regained a lot of her mobility and is now attempting short walks and small tasks around the house. Elsie and her husband have the prospect of a boost to their income once the Attendance Allowance payments come through. We supported her to apply for a Blue Badge, which will enable more trips out. She has ongoing support from the Stroke Association which includes advice and support groups including online support groups during the Covid pandemic.
Most importantly, she has a much more positive outlook. At the start of our visits, she was very negative and couldn’t see a way forward and actually used the words “if I get over this”. She was full of doubt and uncertainty. On our last visit, however, she said she was feeling much better, she was starting to do things around the house and was looking forward to a time possibly three months ahead when she would be more or less recovered.
Elsie said that our support worker always had a smile on her face, had been a great help and was full of useful information. She felt much more positive and could now envisage a time when she was better and could enjoy life again like she used to. She also said she would like to volunteer with Age UK Lancashire once she was well enough.
Elsie was a client in our Hospital Aftercare Service, where we can provide short to medium terms support after a hospital stay or illness.