Wylie and Dorothy Erwin have been married for over 56 years--decades full of happy memories, big adventures, and even those inevitable bumps in the road. No bump, however, can compare to the crater they have climbed after Wylie suffered a debilitating stroke three years ago, a major setback that changed their lives forever.
The once social butterfly, avid golfer, and jokester, who refers to himself as “Wylie Coyote,” found himself nearly unable to walk, speak or do anything on his own after his stroke. His wife, Dorothy, who admits she was facing her own physical aging challenges, took on the role of Wylie’s full-time caregiver.
Dorothy says even daily tasks like showering became a physical battle.
“Just the mere logistics of getting him in and out of the bathtub safely, as well as keeping myself safe, were becoming more of a challenge, and I was really concerned about it,” recalls Dorothy.
After struggling on her own for nearly a year, Dorothy reached out to St. Luke’s Siouxland PACE, a program of all-inclusive care for the elderly. The UnityPoint Health- St. Luke’s program assists older adults by providing medical, social, and support services to keep participants healthy, safe, and independent at home for as long as possible.
Soon, Wylie was enrolled into the program and once again, their lives changed drastically. This time it was for the better.
No longer a one woman show, Dorothy now had a whole team of health experts assisting her with Wylie and lending a shoulder for Dorothy to lean on for support.
“With PACE, I don’t feel like I am the only one involved in Wylie’s care,” Dorothy adds. “I have somebody to support me, all while providing my husband with the physical, emotional, therapeutic and social support he needs.”
Going to Siouxland PACE five days a week, Wylie really looks forward to seeing everyone, starting with the aids that come to his house to help him get ready and the drivers who pick him up in the morning to the fellow PACE participants and staff he sees throughout the day.
Dorothy says Wylie has improved so much over the two years that he has been at PACE and credits most of those changes to the PACE employees.
“There is not a day that goes by that we are not thankful,” she says. “We even pray for staff."
Wylie says the changes have been monumental, allowing him to go home to his wife to spend quality together instead of having to rely solely on Dorothy to take care of him.
“They opened up a new world for me,” he says smiling.
Confined to a wheelchair, Wylie jokingly adds that he is also working really hard with PACE physical therapists so he can one day be reunited with his other love: golf.
“Therapy is really important to me. I am hoping to walk again, so I can play a round of golf.”