Marie's story: home is the place to be

MARIE is 93 years old and loves her independence despite a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. She lives in her own home, made possible because of mylifeAssist support.

I'm next to Joyce, Marie's mylifeAssist consultant, as she rings the doorbell. Marie answers the door cheerfully – we're her visitors for the day.

When Marie's parents passed away, she inherited a portion of the land next to the family home. There she built her house over 30 years ago with her husband, the place she today calls home.

After Joyce catches up with Marie to hear how she is feeling, Marie wants to show me her garden. We leave Joyce in the kitchen as she writes down Marie's new appointments in the calendar above the kitchen phone and the mepacs personal alarm.

Marie leads me around her beautiful garden, proudly showing off the two lemon trees and the lush jasmine bush, just starting to flower.

"This is the pomegranate tree we planted when I was a young girl, it is around 85 years old now."

"The pomegranate tree grew crooked because one of us children stepped on it after we planted it... of course we all blamed the other for wrecking it."

Over the fence, we can see the house Marie grew up in, built in the '20s. The extension is new, but the original stained glassed windows are untouched.

When we're finished exploring her garden, we wander back inside. Joyce has finished preparing Marie's calendar for the month.

From shopping trips, to social outings, to Meals on Wheels, Joyce has scheduled all of Marie's dates in the calendar. Marie sees what is on every day, and crosses it out after it has happened. That way, nothing is forgotten.

Next, Joyce goes through the fridge, throwing away the items past their expiry date and helping Marie decide what to eat for lunch. They chat about the services mylifeAssist is coordinating, now scheduled on the calendar, making sure that Marie is happy.

The sky grows dark – a storm is coming in and rain is spitting down. Marie frets about her washing, so Joyce runs outside with her to make sure nothing gets soaked.

With the washing safe, Marie takes Joyce and I around her house, explaining the stories and rich family history tied to the things in her home.

There are the polished rocks her son gave her. The 100-year-old chiffonier, from the estate of her husband's aunty. The framed pictures her children drew for her when they were in kindergarten, the paper yellow and the ink fading.

She shows us the paintings hanging over the stairs.

"My mother was a painter... she didn't take it up until she was retired, but she became quite good. My daughter did some beautiful paintings too."

Marie proudly talks about her two sons, looking forward to their visits. Since Marie's husband and daughter have passed away, her sons play a big role in her life and ensure she is happy in her own home, communicating with Joyce for updates on Marie's wellbeing.

It was her sons who first contacted mylifeAssist to find out how mylifeAssist could assist their mother. They liked how flexible the service is; able to work with other organisations and support services.

When it is time to go, Marie walks us out to the car and gives us both a kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you soon!" Marie says to Joyce, waving from the gate.