Left to right: Martha Lopez, physical therapist; Frank Bennett; and Julie Kobis, occupational therapist assistant

Frank Bennett worked as a housekeeper at the Veterans Affairs office for many years before he retired.


Bennett was living in a home where he was walking with a rolling walker, was able to walk up and down a small flight of stairs and needed setup assistance with bathing and dressing. His roommate helped him with homemaking and shopping.


“At home I was getting weaker and weaker, wasn’t moving around too much and eventually could only sit at the side of the bed,” Bennett shared.


Bennett was admitted to the VA in July 2019 with complaints of weakness, inability to walk and swelling of both his legs. He was diagnosed with cellulitis infection in both legs. From the hospital, he came to Lakeside Health Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, for physical and occupational therapies.


Bennett would need intense therapy if he wanted to return home.


“When I first got here I couldn’t even stand, walk or do anything for myself,” Bennett remembered.


Physical and occupational therapists worked with Bennett to improve his strength, endurance and independence, and eventually they scheduled a home evaluation to see if any modifications needed to be made before he could safely return home.


When Bennett and his therapists arrived, he could not even climb the three steps to get into his home. With his permission, the OT went in and assessed his home. After the home visit, they thought an assisted living facility might be a better option for him.


This hit Bennett hard and made him realize that he needed to work much harder if he wanted to step foot in his home again.


From that point on, Bennett stepped up his motivation and determination. He was worked extremely hard and was down in the gym first thing every morning. In PT, he practiced a lot of balance tasks because he had fallen at home in the past and had a fear of falling. He did functional mobility tasks, such as maneuvering around objects, walking on uneven surfaces and step training. In OT, he worked on regaining his strength and independence with bathing, dressing and light home tasks.


“Frank made amazing progress,” said Robin Irving, director of rehab services. “He went from not walking to walking with a rolling walker to walking independently and being able to walk up and down a steep fight of about 20 steps. He is independent with bathing and dressing. He is now functioning at even a higher level than he was when he was at home, and he’s ready to return home to his life.”


Bennett shared, “Everyone here was very helpful, kind, polite and worked very hard with me. If it wasn’t for the determination of the staff to see me get better, walk again and go home, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”


Bennett returned home on Sept. 26 with a new lease on life.


He said, “I’m going to take a walk every day so I can stay strong and enjoy my life.”

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