11 Cares for Independence Special Report

By: Chiara Lotierzo Email
By: Chiara Lotierzo Email

Living on our own is something many of us take for granted but for others, it's a daily challenge.

In this 11 Cares Special Report, 11 News Reporter Chiara Lotierzo introduces us to a woman who refused to give up her independence.
Jane Slepitis is teaching herself how to play the piano. Again.

“On February 6, I had a stroke, and couldn't use the right side at all,” she says.

But Jane soon realized she was about to lose more than just her right side, she was about to lose her independence.

“I said absolutely not, I'm not leaving my apartment,” she says.

At the age of 57, Jane was faced with moving into a nursing home.

She was now in a wheelchair and her apartment wasn't big enough for it.

She couldn't get into her bedroom or her kitchen.

She was sleeping on the couch.

But even worse, her situation was dangerous.

Jane's apartment, was on the second floor, and only accessible by stairs.

“If there was a fire or something like that, I’d be in a lot of trouble because I don't think I could scoot that fast,” she laughs.

Jane had been pulling herself up and down her stairwell, and then begging neighbors to carry her wheelchair for her.

That's when the Center for Independence stepped in.

“I became aware that Jane was living in an unsafe environment,” says Mary Moore, an Independent Living Advocate.

“Here we're all about personal empowerment and encouraging people to move forward in their own lives,” Moore says.

Mary worked with Jane's landlord, who Jane says had previously been sluggish as best, to get her, within 48 hours, into a lower-level apartment that was wheelchair accessible.

“So now she's in a safer environment, she's able to maintain her independence, she's able to get on with her life, and that's what's important,” Mary says.

Mary takes the success as just another day at the Center for Independence but Jane says although it may seem like a simple thing, to her, independence means everything.

“Freedom, you know, getting to do you know, up in the morning when I want to, go to bed when I want to, play the piano when I want to. You know, things like that, it's freedom, and it's my place, and I like being independent,” Jane says.

Now, with a smile, Jane is taking on her new life, one day at a time.

“I'm trying to teach myself to walk with a walker, cause I promised I'm gonna run a marathon next year,” she laughs.

She says the center has made each new day in her life, one to be celebrated.

Not only did the Center for Independence help Jane get into her new apartment, but employees actually moved Jane and all of her belongings.

They also still check in with her, all the time.

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