Sepsis and an abscess near her hip brought Ida Stiffarm to Alderwood Manor in Spokane, Washington, for rehabilitation on June 9, 2017.
Stiffarm was weakened and in pain when she arrived, which affected her ability to move around and care for herself. She could only walk 5 feet with a walker and assistance, and she needed moderate assistance to move from the bed to her wheelchair. She couldn’t stand at the sink, either, to complete her daily grooming tasks.
Another challenge was eating. Stiffarm had difficulty swallowing without feeling like she was choking, and she was at risk for aspiration. Louise Sheard, her speech therapist, placed her on a modified diet of ground and soft food to ensure she was safe to swallow.
Six days a week, Stiffarm had speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions. Speech therapy worked on her swallow, using oral motor exercises to get her back to normal.
“Ida was sweet,” said Sheard. “She worked hard with me because she wanted to safely eat regular food.”
In occupational therapy, Stiffarm practiced the skills she would need to take care of herself at home. Therapeutic exercises and activities helped her improve in activities of daily living, including grooming, getting dressed and bathing.
Physical therapists focused on mobility. They used therapeutic exercises and activities as well and helped Stiffarm get used to walking again. Strength training helped rebuild the muscles and range of motion she needed for walking, standing and transferring from one surface to another.
“I was slow at first, but the therapists were very good,” said Stiffarm. “They were prompt and encouraging, let me go at my own pace and taught me the right way to transfer and walk. I had good care here. The nurses were right there when you needed them.”
On July 27, Stiffarm was able to return home to her assisted living facility. She was able to eat normally, walk up to 200 feet at a time with a walker and someone beside her to steady her, sit down and stand up with assistance and take care of her grooming and hygiene tasks with supervision.