Stroke Survivor Gets Help To Stay Safe At Home

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Something was bad wrong.

Bonnie shakily pulled herself up off the kitchen floor, leaned against the side door window, and waved one arm at the neighbor’s house across the driveway.

It was sometime after 3 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2021.

Fortunately, the neighbors spotted her and came over to investigate. Bonnie’s face was contorted, her speech slurred, and one arm hung limp at her side. They called 911.

One year later, Bonnie, 69, is still healing from her stroke. She has lingering problems with balance and speech. She has congestive heart failure, has endured two surgeries for a staph infection in her leg, and is awaiting knee replacement surgery.

Bonnie is a lifelong Hoosier. Her husband of 37 years, Jimmy, died in 2016. The couple worked together in the antique business and ran a shop in the antique mall near 34th and Shadeland in Indianapolis. They had no children. What little they saved was lost when Jimmy fell sick. Today Bonnie has only her Social Security income and a small home filled with beautiful antiques.

What keeps her going is her “baby”—a rescue dog named Emery, or Em for short—part Labrador retriever and part pit bull. Bonnie thinks Emery must have been mistreated with water in the past, because running water frightens her, and she “just barks and carries on” even when it rains. 

Volunteers aid with home accessibility for seniors at annual Safe at Home Event

On the morning of Sept. 17 during CICOA’s annual Safe at Home event, presented by George’s Pharmacy & Medical Equipment, volunteers will assemble a wheelchair ramp so Bonnie can more easily get in and out of her home. Servants at Work (SAWs), a faith-based nonprofit that builds wheelchair ramps for low-income homeowners, referred her to CICOA and will design and prebuild the ramp and direct its installation on event day.

Each September during National Fall Prevention Awareness Month, volunteers turn out to help low-income senior homeowners like Bonnie with home modifications that increase safety and accessibility and reduce the likelihood of falls. This year, 150 volunteers will be working on 21 homes in the Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis.

Safe at Home volunteers also will install grab bars in Bonnie’s bathroom, place solar lighting on her carport, and remove debris from a fallen tree in her backyard. An ADA-compliant toilet will be installed by contractors before the event.

“I want to say thank you very much,” Bonnie said, wiping tears from her eyes. “Absolutely! Because without this, I couldn’t stay. I wouldn’t be able to stay in my home. I am so grateful!”


CICOA’s Safe at Home program is fully funded by donations and grants. Seniors in Central Indiana turn to CICOA when they need help with home accessibility modifications, and the need is growing. Will you please donate today to help older adults live safely and independently in the homes and neighborhoods that they love?


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