Falling is Big Concern for 76-year-old Twin Sisters Who Live Together

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After Shirley’s divorce in the 1990s, she and her twin sister, Verlie, bought a house together in Perry Township. Now at age 76, they don’t get around as well as they once did. Verlie has spinal issues. Shirley has Alzheimer’s.

“One of my biggest concerns is falls,” said Shirley’s daughter, Courtney, who regularly stops by to bring them meals and help out with other needs.

Last spring, Shirley tumbled off the back concrete patio and into the bushes. Luckily, she didn’t break anything, but she was pretty banged up, Courtney said. The patio was uneven, and it was a tripping hazard. Not long after, Courtney hired contractors to build a deck to reduce the risk of her mom falling again.

Over the last several years, Shirley has broken both wrists in falls and has suffered several other minor injuries. Courtney worries about her mom and aunt. That’s why she’s so thankful that CICOA will bring volunteers to their home on Sept. 11 for the organization’s annual Safe at Home event.

Making Homes Safer for Indianapolis Seniors

CICOA’s Safe at Home team and more than 100 volunteers will help make homes safer for 20 low-income seniors on Indianapolis’ south side. The day of service is sponsored by George’s Pharmacy & Medical Equipment.

September is National Fall Prevention Awareness Month. Annually, one in four people aged 65 and older will experience at least one fall. That leads to increased risk for hospitalization as a result of falling, at an average cost of $30,000, not including rehabilitation or ongoing therapy, if needed.

On Safe at Home event day, volunteers will build a wheelchair ramp for the twins. They also will clean up the yard—where Shirley once loved to garden but now just can’t manage—and other small interventions to prevent falls.

The sisters used to rely on Courtney’s son, who lived with them and took care of things around the house. After he died unexpectedly in February, Shirley’s health has plummeted. Courtney is now their primary caregiver, but she also is grieving the loss of her only child and lives 20 minutes away.

“I’ve lost my son and mom,” Courtney said. “Because of Alzheimer’s, I can’t talk to Mom about anything anymore.”

She’s doing the best she can, but Courtney often feels overwhelmed. She’s thankful CICOA will be at the house on Sept. 11 to make things a little bit safer for her mom and aunt.


We’re grabbing our tools and working hard on Safe at Home Day. Will you pitch in to give home safety to a senior? With your help, seniors will be safe from falling in their homes.


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