When 96-year-old Oliver Green arrived at the Bupa Aged Care home in Traralgon he was in a wheelchair and had been completely incapable of walking for the past three months.
“I went to hospital for an operation… and the next morning I couldn’t move my legs. From then on I was in a wheelchair,” tells Oliver. “I told my eldest son I was going to walk out of there but in fact, I didn’t.”
Oliver went into respite care while he waited for the new Bupa care home to open but as soon as the home opened, Oliver assured the Bupa care team he would get out of the wheelchair and walk as soon as possible.
“As long as you’re determined enough your mind can [help] force you to do things that physically a lot of people would say “Oh, I can’t do that” but you’ve just got to stick to it and do it and get on with it. That’s my motto and so far in life it’s served me very well!” says the retired Royal Air Force fighter pilot.
“I remember when we first opened the home and Oliver cut the ribbon. He was in his wheelchair, and was unable to walk,” recalls Shelly Andersen, therapy aid at the care home. “But we worked extensively with Oliver every day. He was so determined and so motivated to walk again.”
Oliver was given a personalised exercise program to undertake with the help from the team, but once he gained some strength there was no holding him back and he practiced his exercises at every opportunity.
“We started with sit to stand basic strength exercises,” says Shelly. “Once he got stronger with that we took him out to the barre where he continued his sit to stand and worked on balance. Then gradually we added small weights, only about half a kilo, and just strengthened him slowly.”
“Without this program he would have deteriorated even more and lost mobility completely,” tells Shelly. “We aim to maintain our residents’ mobility, strengthen them, so they can have that quality of life still. It’s to keep their independence as long as we can.”
Oliver is not only walking now, but has hopes to soon play a gentle round of golf on the soon to be completed golf course at care home.
“I haven’t played golf for five or six years because of my balance. I walk around with one of those pushers, and while I can putt because that doesn’t take much effort, you can’t swing a golf club to the top because my balance isn’t good enough. I can play short shots and I look forward to seeing how it goes.”
A worthy aspiration for someone who couldn’t walk only months ago.