Finding the Right Tools Helps 80-year-old Erma Tester Regain Her Life

Erma-Tester“Overwhelming” is how Erma Tester, 80, describes the grief she experienced when Everett, her husband of 63 years, passed away in the fall of 2012. She cried for seven months straight and couldn’t sleep at night.

The anxiety and depression grew until one night she became obsessed with the logistics of dealing with Everett’s things, including his vast array of tools. The right side of her face began to throb, and a panic took over. She called her daughter at 1:30 a.m. and went to the emergency room for tests, which came back normal.

Afterward, her primary care physician, Dr. Rick DelValle, referred her to Taylorville Memorial Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions, a program that provides participants with a different kind of tool box—one equipped with resources to handle life’s challenges. Erma attended the program twice weekly for 12 weeks, and it changed her outlook for the better.

“The program helps you work through your troubles. It also helped me realize that others are going through problems worse than mine,” she said. “Plus, the staff is like one big family. It’s a great program.”

Some of the tools that Senior Life Solutions offers include:

  • Group, individual and family therapy
  • Medication management for behavioral health diagnosis
  • Fellowship and nutrition of a noon meal
  • Coordination of the patient’s care with the individual’s primary care physician

After graduating from the Senior Life Solutions program, Erma gardens, tends her flower beds, walks and even bikes. She also helps watch her three great-grandkids and sleeps soundly through the night.

“I’ve learned to take life one day at a time,” she said. “Don’t worry about tomorrow.”

And those tools of her late husband’s?

She adds with a smile, “I’ll do it when I am ready.”