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Helene’s story

December 3, 2018
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CCA SCO member Helene stands outside while leaning on a cane

Helene is in her mid-80s and lives just northwest of Boston. After her husband passed way from cancer, Helene’s own health started to fail. “I have a bad heart with two stents and osteoporosis. I was in constant pain and my hands were going numb. I was hardly able to walk,” she says.

Nothing to lose

Helene’s poor health made it hard for her to do the things she enjoyed, like clean or cook. She could not go shopping with her girlfriends. Helene was only able to leave her apartment to go to church with her son.

Helene also began to feel like she was a burden to her son. She worried that she, and her son, would go into debt to pay for her care. “I didn’t want to put him in that situation,” stated Helene, “but I could not bring myself at first to ask for help. My pride was in the way.”

“I would have given up. I was ready to give up.”

Then a friend suggested that Helene contact Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA). “I was convinced by a friend to call CCA for help. My son said to me, ‘You have nothing to lose.’ My goal is not to be a burden, especially to my son. He is the most important thing in my life.”

How Commonwealth Care Alliance helped Helene

CCA SCO member sitting with her care partner

“It’s a wonderful feeling when something happens, and I’m not sure what is happening, I can pick up the phone, tell CCA what’s going on, and they send someone to help. I don’t have fear anymore.”

Helene also doesn’t avoid going to her doctor because she can’t pay. “Before I had to pay a copay, now I don’t. If I need a medication, CCA will take care of it,” stated Helene. “I’m not afraid to get medical care now. I have no problem calling my doctor because I know I will be taken care of.”

Helene’s health, activity, and outlook are better

Although Helene still has pain, her health and activity are better. “I won’t ever be myself again, but I can move. I go shopping and out to dinner.”  Exercising regularly helps Helene feel better. She often does her leg exercises while talking on phone with friends. “Since I don’t sit all the time anymore and I do my exercises every day, I feel 100% better.” 

During the winter or when it’s raining, Helene stays active. “I go up and down the hallways or my son takes me to Stop & Shop and we go up and down the aisles.” She still goes to church every week. Helene has even started cooking again, with help from her son.

Another thing Helene has noticed since joining CCA is that her outlook has changed, “My attitude and thoughts are better, I am enjoying my friends again and I go out more with my son.” Helene looks forward to new seasons and to meeting with her friends. “I am much happier. I have humor in my heart and in my conversations. I want to keep going.”

Message for older adults

Helene wants other older adults who may be facing health issues like hers to know they are not alone.

“No matter what happens to you in life, don’t give up. Keep your faith. There are still people on this earth that care about you. Remember you are of use, you can be useful.”

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