Bettie Smith is one of those people who gives without expecting anything in return. So when she expressed concerns about staying in her home due to arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and impaired vision, we were more than happy to help her out. See how small changes can make a big difference.

Bettie reluctantly retired from her beloved position as a school nurse when the arthritis in her legs and knees prevented her from being able to do her work without significant pain. She was sought after by students at the school for both physical and emotional support, and loves helping others.

Informally, that work continues within her neighborhood, as neighbors seek Bettie out for advice or support. At 72, she functions as a stand-in “Grandma” to the littlest neighbors, and wise auntie to young parents. In turn, they help her out when she needs it too. She feels blessed to be able to raise her grandson following the loss of her son 13 years ago. 

Outfitting the Smith Home

Bettie and John Smith in their home

Bettie’s 80-year-old husband, John, also has multiple health issues and walks slowly with a cane. They love their home of 37 years, which functions as a safe and welcoming space for their adult children, neighbors, and grandson’s friends.

The Age Well at Home team conducted an intake interview with Bettie to assess the couple’s needs. She expressed a strong desire to remain in their home until they died, while acknowledging their growing health and safety concerns due their arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and impaired vision due to cataracts. An on-site visit identified a list of possible modifications, which Bettie ranked in order of importance to them.

  • Our team installed sturdy grab bars in the shower to replace the use of bars held up by suction cups and a flimsy towel rack.
  • Bettie received a rolling walker, which enables her to sit down and move comfortably and safely about in her kitchen to cook. She also uses it within the family and living room areas. Prior to the rolling walker Bettie found herself often crawling on the floor to cook or straighten up her house when she was low on energy and didn’t want to fall.
  • The family’s old refrigerator was replaced just after leaking water on the kitchen floor and shutting down completely.
  • Secure knobs and a glass panel were installed in a beautiful cabinet containing their dishes and other belongings, enabling greater ease of use for arthritic hands.
  • Our team replaced several fixtures and hired an electrician to repair wiring that restored light to rooms that were difficult to navigate safely in the dark.
  • A standard smoke detector check led to the replacement of all current devices in their home.

“I Feel Normal Again”

Bettie Smith stands beside a glass cabinet fixed up by the Age Well At Home team

Bettie expressed deep gratitude for all of the modifications that will enable her and her family to remain at home safely as long as possible.

“I don’t have to crawl on the floor anymore or say a prayer that I don’t fall in the shower. I can cook safely in my kitchen and not worry that our food will go bad when the refrigerator breaks down. I feel normal again,” said Bettie.

For the Age Well at Home team, it is a gift to be able to give back to a community member who has given so much to others.