Margaret: a little help goes a long way
Rex Bower remembers to the very minute when wife Margaret had a stroke that paralysed her left side and changed their lives forever.
It was 5.45pm on September 6, 1989 and Margaret, who was an outstanding cook, was in the kitchen when she suffered the stroke. Rex, who had retired with Margaret to Brisbane after working for more than 30 years with the NRMA, was instantly thrust into the role of carer.
Margaret only partially recovered and faced the frustration of being unable to use her left arm and needing a walking stick to get around. Rex was very keen for them to remain independent as he cared for Margaret.
Some years after moving to Wallerawang in 2003 to be closer to family, their much prized independence again came under threat. In 2008, Rex had a pace-maker inserted to manage a serious heart problem, which was a serious set back for both of them. Then in November, Margaret fell in their bedroom, breaking both bones in her lower left leg, leading to five months recovery in hospital.
When she returned home, the task of caring was much more difficult for Rex due to the extra lifting, and he developed a serious back problem. Still they fought hard to maintain their independence at home and eventually they sought help from HammondCare’s Central West At Home Care service.
HammondCare carers began an intensive program of support in the home seven days a week. In time, as Rex’s back became more painful, additional care was provided, including practical support cleaning the house, now beyond Rex, and taking them shopping.
Rex says these may seem like small things, but they are what makes their lives at home work so well. Going shopping with Margaret had been extremely difficult because of the work in helping her in and out of the car and loading and unloading her wheel-chair. Now, going shopping together has become something they can enjoy together again.
Assistive technology is another way we have been able to support Rex as carer for Margaret. A special bed which can be raised and lowered, plus a lifting machine which enables Rex to lift Margaret into bed at night, have further extended their sense of independence.
Sometimes Rex wakes in the night, worrying about the needs of his wife and his own challenges. But so far, we have been able to successfully work with him to meet every challenge that has arisen, and it’s wonderful to see them together, and still in their own home.
The very first day that Rex and Margaret considered help from HammondCare they read a brochure that said, ‘If you’re happy, we’re happy; if you’re not happy, we’re not happy.” The couple agree that HammondCare has been true to this in every way...except they can’t think of a time they’ve been unhappy. We’re hoping to help keep things this way for Rex and Margaret.