Linda overcame a disabling stroke to find hope in a home
Life for Linda was pleasant — she lived in beautiful British Columbia with a huge garden, went camping often, played guitar and did administrative work in an office.
And then, one day, in her mid-50s, she woke up in a hospital bed. She had had a brain aneurysm. Then, on the operating table, she had a stroke.
Her fingers could no longer move dexterously along a keyboard or guitar strings. Her short-term memory was destroyed.
“I couldn’t keep my job — I’d pick up the phone and say, ‘Wait, where do I work again?’” Linda laughs. Despite this huge adjustment in her life, she has a good sense of humour about it. “I couldn’t ride the bus because I’d end up on it all day long.”
Linda moved to Calgary to live with her family. But it wasn’t what she expected – they were having financial troubles and were close to losing their house.
“I just walked away,” she says. “I was extra. I didn’t want to be a burden.”
She lived in emergency shelters for two years. “I never felt safe,” she says.
One of the shelter staff helped Linda to apply at RESOLVE Partner Trinity Place Foundation of Alberta’s (TPFA) Peter Coyle Place, a building for seniors with low income experiencing health issues and other challenges that often come with aging.
Linda was relieved when she was accepted. The wait list at Peter Coyle is often as high as 70. Only 10-12 of the most urgent cases can be accepted annually.
That means around 85 per cent of the seniors on the list are still trapped — unnecessarily — in hospital for weeks, months or even years.
TPFA’s RESOLVE project will create more of this critically needed housing. Not only will it drastically improve the quality of life for vulnerable seniors, it will be a huge cost savings for the health care system — hospital beds cost $1,000 per day per person.
Linda, now 62, is determined to become self-sufficient again. “The staff here are helping me look into training to become a counsellor,” she says. “And I will teach myself how to play guitar again. It’ll take time, but I will be playing again.”