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Irene hopes to stay on her feet and in her home



Irene Lamb recalls with an incredulous laugh, “I don’t know what on earth we were thinking when we got this huge tub. I guess we thought we would never grow old.”


Like many of North Carolina’s aging adults, Irene lives in her own version of a “Peter Pan” home—a home built without a thought for people with disabilities or for those growing older. Sunken living rooms, narrow doorways, stairs without handrails, or bathrooms without grab bars are just a few of the features of “Peter Pan” homes.


Irene and her late husband, Edwin, bought their home 57 years ago as newlyweds and raised their two children there. Aside from the glorious, deep tub of which they were once so proud and that now creates a substantial safety risk for Irene, her home is cozy and comfortable.


In the past year though, she has fallen 15 times getting in or out of the tub—all while attempting to hold onto a nearby windowsill.


On one occasion, Irene’s bathroom window happened to be open and a neighbor heard her cries for help. On another, she had her phone nearby and was able to call her son. He came quickly, but had to break the lock on the door to get inside.


With a costly bathroom renovation far out of reach for Irene or her children, they have tried to reduce the risk of falling as much as possible. “My daughter has me call her before I take a bath and if I don’t call her back within a set time, she’ll come check on me.” Irene has also learned that a “sink bath” can be as good as a soak— and a lot safer.



Irene’s future began to be a lot safer when Victorian Simmons, a Community Engagement Specialist with the Greensboro Fire Department, heard about the difficulties she had been having.


Victorian explains, “My heart went out to Irene because she had bruises on her arms and legs and had seen her doctor multiple times for falls and even had to go to the hospital because of falls. We partner with North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) in our Community Risk reduction programs—especially in the area of fall prevention. I knew of a grant the ministry had received to address fall prevention and I hoped they could help her. I called Brian (Brian Roberts, NCBAM Call Center Director) and was thrilled when he assured me, ‘At minimum, we can have some grab bars installed for her. Let me make some calls.’”


The grant Victorian had heard of was a $275,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that NCBAM received for “home improvements or modifications to enhance the mobility and security of older adults within Alamance, Davidson, Guilford and Randolph Counties.”


Brian sent the required paperwork to Victorian who took it to Irene to fill out. Irene qualified for the renovations and NCBAM is now working with Nathaniel Medley of Polecat Remodeling. Medley is a ministry-minded contractor, who is eager to improve Irene’s safety and independence.


Victorian is thrilled she was able to connect Irene to NCBAM. “Miss Irene is very deserving. This new walk-in tub will improve her quality of life and make the difference in her being able to stay at home and live independently.”



Growing old is not a fault nor a failing. As a natural part of life, aging is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. NCBAM

believes the sanctity of life extends to old age and that aging adults deserve special honor according to Leviticus 19:32: “Rise up before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.”


Providing “help for the journey” to aging adults to help them maintain their independence is at the heart of NCBAM’s mission. North Carolina residency and age (65 or older) are the only criteria for service. Individuals (or their caregivers) may contact NCBAM’s

Call Center Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm at 877-506-2226 to request assistance. The Call Center connects callers with local resources and relies on grants and volunteers to meet other needs.


To learn more visit ncbam.org


Written by Carol Layton, NCBAM, Director of Communications and Administration

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