From Stumble To Strength: Reclaiming Independence After Falls

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Lillie was working as a DeCA teller at the Harrison Village Commissary at Fort Ben on Indy’s northeast side in 2016 when an odd thing happened: She began losing her equilibrium and falling. A lot.

She fell downstairs. She fell upstairs. She fell standing still.

“I had a lot of things going on,” the now-69-year-old explains. “With falling all the time, being sick, arthritis in my back, and other medical problems, I needed help.”

Both her full-time work at the commissary and her part-time job at the library required her to stand for long hours each day. She knew she couldn’t keep it up, so she took early retirement.

Community Comes Together

Quitting both jobs gave her some relief, but she found she needed more help, particularly with maintenance and upkeep of her home, where she has lived for more than 31 years. She first reached out to NeighborLink, a nonprofit that helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities by providing home repair at no cost to the homeowner. 

Besides the home repairs, she found she needed additional help to remain safely at home. NeighborLink connected her to CICOA, and in late 2022, Lillie was approved for services through Indiana’s Aged and Disability Medicaid Waiver. Her son now provides care for her through Structured Family Caregiving, and she receives Mom’s Meals.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, a group of volunteers will show up at Lillie’s home during CICOA’s annual Safe at Home Day to install grab bars in her bathroom, do yardwork and power wash her porch.

Safe at Home, presented by First Horizon Home Health Care, is a high-impact, half-day of service to low-income homeowners over the age of 60 in Indianapolis. On that day, community volunteers provide home safety modifications and yard cleanup projects in one central Indiana neighborhood. The event occurs each September during National Fall Prevention Awareness Month and is designed to make homes more accessible and prevent costly and dangerous falls among seniors.

“It means so much for the community to come together to help me out and others. I feel great about it,” she said. “I believe in community sticking together.”

Lillie can get outside safely and is involved in her neighborhood
Lillie is grateful to be able to safely go outside to enjoy her yard and talk to her neighbors.

Getting Out Again

Lillie spends time at home working on denim crafts and taking care of her dogs
Lillie stays busy by making denim jewelry and apparel, and she enjoys the company of her two dogs.

A self-described “people person,” Lillie noted that her neighbors often come over to check on her, and their mom sends food over after parties.

“If someone is new to the neighborhood, I want to go out and welcome them, too,” she said, “though I am just beginning to get out again.”

For now, Lillie is focused on not falling and taking care of her two Shih Tzu dogs, Babie and Queso.

“They keep me going, keep me on a routine,” she said.

She also enjoys water aerobics at the YMCA and crafting, using old denim to make jewelry, purses and jackets.

“I have a goal of getting out of the house at least three times a week, and I want to start driving again. Just get more independence again—that’s my goal,” she said.


Help seniors like Lillie reclaim their independence

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