Adapting: One step at a time

Nine out of 10 seniors prefer to grow old in their own homes according to the AARP, American Association of Retired Persons.  With longer life expectancies and an increased risk of disabilities, what are the chances?

Deloris Pohl, 89, has been living in Mount Pleasant her entire life.  When she married Howard Pohl, 90, in 1948, they built their home together and have lived in it ever since.

Five years ago, Howard was hospitalized for complications with his lungs.  He was put into an induced coma for a week and spent the rest of his two months in Medicare.

“Ever since I’ve come out of there I couldn’t walk,” said Pohl.  After being released, he received therapy in his home but it only got worse.  “If I stand up I’m going to fall over because I have no balance left; with our age you don’t recover,” he said.

With the help of their three children living in Mount Pleasant, they are able to keep up with the demands that come with being a homeowner.

“It’s hard to… grasp, that this has happened to him you know,” said Deloris, as the two reminisced on times of the past: Howard playing baseball, working on his parent’s farm and always being on the go.

“It can be frustrating,” said Deloris, but they have been able to make it work.

Disability refers to a reduced ability to perform activities such as walking, getting out of bed, using the toilet, bathing, cooking, moving around, driving or simply using your legs or hands because of a deteriorating strength, mobility, pain or other physical or cognitive challenges.

To help improve Howard’s strength, his family thought it would be best for him to temporarily live at the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

For 20 days in November he worked on his mobility through varying types of therapy.

Visiting twice a day, Deloris would bring Howard freshly ironed clothes in the afternoon and be there with him during lunch and dinner.  According to Howard, the meals were delicious but even that didn’t stop him from wanting to return home.

His wish came true two days after his 90th birthday and just in time for Thanksgiving.  Three times a day Howard is continuing his therapy from home, working on strengthening his muscles in his hands and legs one step at a time.

2015-2
After seventy years a gold locket embellished with a green gem stone and the photographs of Deloris Pohl, 89, and the love of her life Howard Pohl, 90, remain adorned to her neck. The necklace was purchased by Deloris a few years before she married Howard in 1946. She isn’t able to open it on her own as it is too difficult to do with her fingers but none the less wears it close to her heart everyday.
What is a home without love, "A song we always sang when we were girls," said Deloris Pohl, 89, speaking about her childhood spent with her two sisters as she plays her organ inside her Mt. Pleasant home. "When I get lonely, I come over and play, it keeps me going," said Pohl. Deloris's husband, Howard Pohl, 89, is temporarily living at The Laurels of Mt. Pleasant, a skilled nursing and rehabilitations center ____.
What is a home without love, “A song we always sang when we were girls,” said Deloris Pohl, 89, speaking about her childhood spent with her two sisters as she plays an organ inside her Mt. Pleasant home. “When I get lonely, I come over and play, it keeps me going,” said Pohl. Deloris’s husband, Howard Pohl, 89, is temporarily living at the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center for seniors with varying levels of disabilities.
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Monday afternoon on November, 23, Deloris Pohl arrives to the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant bringing with her birthday cards for her husband Howard, on his 90th birthday. Since Howard moved into the rehabilitation center, Deloris has visited him twice a day always bringing him freshly ironed clothes.
2015-4
Deloris Pohl, 89, and her husband Howard, 90, laugh together in Howard’s temporary living arrangement in the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant.
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From the rocking chair in her living room, Deloris Pohl, 89, looks off into distance.  “He was going out to the car the other day and his knees were giving out on him and I was afraid he was going to fall and I said ‘Howard Pohl don’t you dare fall on me because I can’t get you up,'” said Deloris. “And then I keep thinking, well if I fall and get hurt, whose gonna.. you know, so I have to do a lot of things with a grain of salt.”
2015-3
Howard Pohl, 90, looks up at his wife, Deloris, 89, with a smile as she reads to him the birthday card she picked out for his 90th birthday at the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant.  Deloris arrived at noon singing to him a happy birthday as she walked into the room, brought along other birthday cards that had arrived in the mail and gifted him with a light up “Happy Birthday” pin.
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From left, Deloris Pohl, 89, and a nurse aide walk Howard Pohl, 90, out to the front of the Isabella County Medical Care Facility in Mt. Pleasant where Howard and Deloris’s son Larry pulls up the vehicle to take Howard home. Howard spent 20 days in the rehabilitation center and had been looking forward to this day since he arrived.
Returning from the bathroom after assisting her husband, Howard Pohl, 90, Deloris, 89, sporadically dances after maneuvering their way through their 65-year-old home that was built by Howard and her father, two years after they were married. The two of them have raised five children in the home and have formed many memories in the city of Mount Pleasant.
2015-7
Laura Schember, an occupational therapist for Genesis Rehab Services works with Howard Pohl, 90, on strengthening the muscles in his hands during one of there weekly hour-long sessions. For the time being Schember works with Pohl three times per week.
2015-5
From left, Deloris Pohl, 89, and her husband Howard Pohl, 90, converse sitting in their usual spots in their family room at their home in Mt. Pleasant. Howard, sitting next to an array of windows likes to spend part of his days watching the commotion outside.
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