57, Aberdeen

Tina’s parents-in-law moved into part of her house and had been there for three years when her 90-year-old mother-in-law Alice had a stroke.

“Here in Scotland the care system is fantastic. As soon the hospital said we can discharge you, a care manager ran us through everything we needed to know. She visits us about every three months and says, ‘OK, you need this that and the other, and perhaps you need this?’

The district nurse comes every week for a general check, and we have a stroke nurse to make sure Alice has everything she’s entitled to. She’s great because she knows what the next stage is. Even the optician and the dentist come to the house.  If you’re going to have a stroke, come to Scotland!

"The district nurse comes every week for a general check, and we have a stroke nurse to make sure Alice has everything she’s entitled to."

When she first had the stroke, Alice had nil mobility. She was slurring, her face had fallen on one side, she couldn’t move her arms or legs. With stroke victims, a lot depends on how much they put in themselves, and after about a month Alice got the idea that she could do something if she worked at it. She’s now got mobility back in one arm, she can move her legs, but she can’t support her own weight.  

Using mobility aids

I took in a pack of [Mexican] dominoes. She is very competitive and loves games and she was so determined to play that it really helped. So then we had to take them in every single day. The physio said it helped mentally and physically. We also bought her an iPad so she could watch TV and go on the internet. That was brilliant – it gave her something to do and something to look at when we weren’t there. There aren’t too many buttons – you just touch the screen.

Alice was in hospital for about six months, and before she came out we ripped up all the carpets and put in a hardwood floor. Anything on the walls had to come down. We were given an all-singing and dancing hospital bed that goes up and down and turns in all sorts of ways, plus a commode. We’d sorted the wet room issue already so she had a shower area with two showerheads, one above head height and one lower down for someone in a seat.

Becoming mobile

The hospital provided a standard wheelchair, but she didn’t like being pushed in it. I asked for advice from the stroke unit and contacted a firm who designed the chair to her measurements. She got this fantastic off-road electric wheelchair. It has three gears and when she finds the top one, you’d better get out the way!

She loves it, comes out of the back door, wheels around the lawn and then races up the lane with the wind in her hair. Her driving is terrible: she’s shaved all my cupboards and the doors get bashed – there’s even a hole in the wall. The worst bit is if she runs over your feet! But she loves it."

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2015
Next review due: 30 October 2016