91-year-old woman survives COVID

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“She is titanium,” Gregory Porter says of 91-year-old mom
who survived COVID.

CICOA supporting nearly 300 clients believed to have had coronavirus

Sidney Carmen Porter is a fighter. How else do you describe a 91-year-old woman who survives pneumonia, a broken hip and COVID-19 in the stretch of several months?

“My mom is like titanium,” said Indiana Rep. Gregory Porter. 

Last fall, she came down with pneumonia, was hospitalized for more than two weeks, and spent five days on a ventilator.

“She made it through that, which was remarkable,” Gregory said.

In March, Sidney fell at home, where she lives with her granddaughter, Carmen Batts-Porter. Sidney has Alzheimer’s Disease, so she wasn’t able to explain what had happened or much about the pain that she was clearly experiencing. It was a Sunday, Gregory recalled, when he stopped by on his way home from church. He took his mom to Indiana University North Hospital. About 30 minutes before they arrived, the hospital stopped allowing visitors as concerns of COVID-19 escalated.

As vice president of external affairs for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Gregory understood the new rules. He also knew the risks. He’d read the report and heard about the cases in Washington State.

While he understood, his mom did not. To help keep her calm, Carmen was allowed to be with her briefly. They talked on the phone and through Zoom. Sidney had surgery on her hip, and less than a week later, she was on her way to recovery at a rehabilitation facility.

This was in mid-March. There had been one case of COVID-19 at an assisted living facility.

COVID-19 strikes

“I knew it (COVID) was possible,” Gregory said. “I was just hoping it would not hit her.”

But then came the tell-tale symptoms. She was lethargic and wanted to sleep all the time. She had no appetite and lost her sense of smell and taste, and then there was the low-grade fever.

Sidney tested negative at first, but there was no doubt she had COVID-19; a staff member had tested positive at the facility. Sidney later tested positive. Gregory, Carmen and other family members tried to comfort her from outside the first-floor window of her room. Nurses kept the family updated on her condition daily. It was hard not being there with her.

“It was a little touch-and-go,” he said. “My mother has always fought. She doesn’t give up for anything.”

CICOA provides critical information and support to older adults during COVID-19 pandemic

It’s clients like Sidney that CICOA worries the most about. Those 85 and older are at the greatest risk of contracting the virus and are most likely to need hospitalization for treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control, eight out of 10 deaths in the United States have been people 60 and older.

Of CICOA’s 11,000 clients, Sidney is among the more than 300 who have either tested positive or are believed to have had COVID. Of those, 31 have died from the disease.

CICOA has been working to help provide information to clients and caregivers. The nonprofit has delivered emergency meals and increased delivery of meals to those who already are part of the Meals & More program. While care managers can’t visit in person, they are making more calls to ensure their patients have their needs met. CICOA’s CareAware counselors set up a phone hotline to offer support to caregivers who may need encouragement, and CICOA is helping the nearly 90 clients who have been hospitalized transition back home by ensuring they have the supports they need in place.

Recovering from COVID-19 at home

Sidney never had to be hospitalized. She’s now back home with her granddaughter, her taste has come back, and she’s eating again and working to regain the weight she lost. She’s back to watching her favorite programs on television. Because of her dementia, she still doesn’t understand what COVID is.

Gregory tries to explain to his mom that she had a type of flu. That’s a word she does remember.

“It’s a disease no one really understands completely,” Gregory says.

There are still so many unknowns, like can she get the disease again? Could he get it? It’s why he’s taking precautions, wearing a mask, making sure his mom has what she needs at home, and limiting her exposure.

CICOA also is helping Sidney as she settles back into her routine with her granddaughter at home. Services now include a home health aide to help with feeding and bathing, and she also receives home-delivered meals and case management.

CICOA is a nonprofit that helps older adults in Central Indiana age with dignity and remain safely at home. Your donation ensures that clients with COVID-19 have the supports they need while they recover from the disease.

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