Ellen's Story by Jane

How mum beat the later life blues

I didn't really think of my mum Ellen as old. Nellie (as we called her) never got tired of telling me how she used to cycle down to Southend from North London during her 20s and return the same evening. It was perfectly true, mum has so much energy. When my two children were young Nellie loved playing football with them. She always outran my two boys - so much so that they told her: "We wished woman's football had been invented in the 1950s, you would have played for the England Ladies Team." 

"It was," but no one really knew about it, especially the little boys," she laughed.

A couple of years ago, everything changed: mum had a fall and sort of lost her zest for life. Nellie became less mobile and subsequently quite depressed. She couldn't get out to see her friends. Then dad died, that was the final straw. She retreated into herself, becoming isolated and immobile. The two things seemed to compound each other and she kept telling me how lonely she was. I did my best to help, but I had the children to look after, I was travelling long distances for work and my husband had fallen ill. It was enough for me to juggle my homelife, I couldn't see mum every day. I was at my wits end. 

Then after a visit with mum to the local GP in Hereford, I was told about this new programme by the charity Action For Elders. It would be ideal for mum, the doctor said, as it gets you out of the house and their 'Balanced Lives' programme would help Nellie with her mobility issues. I was a bit sceptical at first, but I thought I'd give it a try and persuade mum to go along. She took a bit of persuading.

I couldn't believe it. After just a few weeks on the Balanced Lives programme mum was like a new person, she didn't even need me to take her. She would go along by herself, she had grown that much in confidence. The gentle exercise programme had done wonders for her mobility, she met new friends and talked her problems out with the friendly staff. She really felt part of something, part of a community. Her health had been monitored on the programme and when we went back to the surgery, the GP was delighted with her progress. And best of all, the Balanced Lives programme was free. I don't know how Action for Elders do it? It was lucky they were operating in our area. They are a charity after all, so of course they need donations. It's a pity they can't do the Balanced Lives programme in all towns of the UK, the older people would certainly benefit.

Ellen (Nellie) is currently doing very well on our programme in Hereford. Find out how you can help Action For Elders to help older people by going to our donate pages