In April of this year, Jorge Sanchez suffered a nasty fall down the steps outside the front of his house which rendered him unable to leave without the assistance of his wife. Though already limited in his mobility, this fall created even more problems for Jorge and his family and further restricted their freedom.
Jorge suffers from a rare genetic disease that causes early onset cerebral atrophy. Cerebral atrophy, or ‘brain shrinkage’, is common in people over the age of 75 and can lead to Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy and dementia. Jorge is only 39 years old. However, due to his condition, he now has the mobility of someone far exceeding this age.
Upon visiting Jorge on a MEDLIFE patient follow up earlier this month, it became clear why the fall had occurred. The steps leading up to his house are less steps and more slabs of stone, placed unevenly towards the front door. This makes it almost impossible for Jorge to leave the house and also creates a dangerous situation for his 4 young children who often play in that area.
Jorge’s wife, Margarita, told us about the effect the living situation was having on the family. She explained that “Jorge cannot get around the house or outside and I can’t leave him on his own. It means I never go out and the children can’t go out and so we are all stuck here”. She also explained what a difference some basic access equipment such as a ramp up to the house would make. “It would make such a difference to the whole family if I were just able to wheel Jorge outside the house or to the park. He would feel much less guilty also if we were able to get out”
MEDLIFE has been working with Jorge for nearly six months and so far has been able to provide him with a walker and, more recently, a wheelchair. However, as his condition declines, he needs more equipment to help his access. The wheelchair allows him to move around the house with the help of Margarita and sometimes alone but without easy access to the outside, Jorge still remains isolated. This isolation creates more than just physical barriers.
Jorge described how frustrating it was to be unable to communicate with his body and also the guilt he felt for the impact he is having on his family. As Jorge grew emotional trying to describe this to us, Margarita tried to bring him back to the positive, describing a future where she will be able to wheel him to the park with the children and he will be able to sit outside during the summer to sell popsicles.
With the help of this MEDLIFE project, this dream of Jorge and Margarita’s could become a reality. With a ramp in place of the poorly formed stairs, Jorge would be able to get outside and even be taken to other places in the community. It would mean he could enjoy the sunshine, watch his children playing and regain some of his freedom.
MEDLIFE has calculated that to build a safe set of stairs and a wheelchair ramp up to Jorge’s house, it would cost just $700. The project is already in the planning stages and just needs the funds to go ahead. As many of this year’s summer interns have had the chance to meet Jorge and his family over the past month, this project is something that has become close to our hearts.
There is only 1 month left of the summer internship and it would be amazing to see the project completed in our time here. For this reason we need to make sure we have raised all the funds by the end of the week. We are therefore adopting a ‘$700 in 7 days’ strategy. Raising the money needed to build this access to Jorge’s home would make such a difference to him and his family so please go to the project page and donate what you can to help us build the ramp!