For a few years, Helen had lacked confidence in her mobility due to her fibromyalgia – a condition that causes chronic pain and fatigue – and experienced low blood pressure and dizzy spells, leading to unexpected falls.
Helen also hadn’t gone shopping, walked the beautiful grounds of the Elliot Gardens Retirement Village where she lives, nor attended the hydrotherapy pool, which she previously loved! But after referral from her Care Coordinator, Joanne in April last year, Helen met Chelsea an ECH Occupational Therapist, who has since given her a new lease on life.
Working together, Helen and Chelsea set a number of goals. They started small, and gradually built to regain her confidence in doing the activities she once loved.
“My first goal was to walk around the house. Chelsea set me achievable exercises to complete each day, including chair exercises and to practise walking up and down my hallway. She would check on me weekly, and having that contact, really made a difference,” Helen says.
“Chelsea is an absolute sweetheart and very empathetic. I feel like she is my granddaughter – she is just so bright and encouraging.”
Helen practiced walking around the village gardens for the first time in 13 years, and she has returned to the hydrotherapy pool.
Chelsea says: “We practised walking through Woolworths, which she hadn’t been to for two years. Helen was so happy the first time we went. Seeing her face enjoying life and doing things she once was able to do again was so heart-warming.
“Each time she realised she could achieve a goal, she had the confidence to set another one.
“She has a lot of determination, so I really wanted to share Helen’s story as she’s a great inspiration to people who may be in a similar situation.
“That is the whole reason why I became an Occupational Therapist; I love that I can help people with what is important to them and makes them happy.”
While the road has been long with a lot of hard work, Helen feels proud of herself for achieving what she had set out.
“For anyone reading this, they should realise that the road is not full steam ahead. After not doing things for so long, mentally, it takes it out of you. Things have taken time because of my age and my health, but it’s just one step forward at a time,” Helen says.
“Once you’ve made that step and achievement, you know that you can achieve anything and make progress, but don’t feel disheartened when you get setbacks.
“I’m very proud of myself…it’s not easy, but I’m determined. It takes so much out of me, but I know I must do it, and I know I’ll improve.”
Helen’s next goal – which she describes as the pinnacle – is to walk along the beach at Horseshoe Bay with Chelsea and touch a monument near the beach known as Gratitude Rock.
“Back in 2006, when I was 70, and for about 10 years, I used to be an early morning swimmer with a group of others – we’d walk along the beach, touch Gratitude Rock and then head off for a swim,” she says.
“If I can reach that goal, I think it will be the pinnacle for me. If anyone can make me do it, it will be Chelsea.”
If you would like to learn more about how you can regain your independence with occupational therapy, visit ech.asn.au/wellness/occupational-therapy
Posted: September 7, 2023