Senior breaks free of social isolation

Social isolation for a senior is hard to handle, especially if you don’t have any helpful resources. Ann Rolls would have felt trapped in her home if she didn’t have a geriatric nurse from Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network to turn to for assistance.

Ann first met Mary Whale in March 2011 when her family physician asked Mary to conduct a home visit and a geriatric assessment.

“Ann has had lots of changes in her life. She was quite high functioning, working until past the typical retirement age. Driving was the trigger event. She got lost a couple of times while driving,” explains Mary.

Ann, 77, lives with her daughter, son-in-law and teenage granddaughter. They were living on the southside and moved to the west end when Ann fell and experienced a compression fracture. After her three week hospital stay, Mary referred Ann to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital for a geriatric assessment and rehabilitation. Mary made a referral to a geriatric occupational therapist who assessed her needs in her house as well as assisted her with obtaining a walker.

“I feel kind of like a prisoner because I am afraid to go out by myself. I tire very easily,” says Ann.

Mary explains that Ann showed some cognitive decline and was angry about having to quit driving because it wasn’t her choice.

She referred Ann to the Edmonton Transit System travel trainer, also known as Mobility Choices Travel Training, help Ann discover how to use public transit to get around the city. This allowed Ann to attend the nearest Senior Centre on her own.

Ann also struggles with memory loss and is a diabetic. She is more concerned about her forgetfulness.

“It drives me crazy. I used to forget nothing. I was a personnel manager at one of the larger drilling companies. I knew everyone’s name and what rig they were on,” she says. “Because I am not out doing many things, my memory just goes dead. It bothers me a lot.”

Mary suggested to Ann that she keeps a piece of paper handy to write items down.

“She is a key figure in that household in that she still cooks, does the laundry and does a certain amount of housekeeping,” explains Mary.

Ann appreciates the help she has received from Mary.

“She is professional. She went through everything with me, explained things I didn’t get to know at the hospital. I had full trust in her. Whatever she said, I did,” says Ann.