It Can Happen to Anyone

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Carol Ann Hubbard Small, a spry and youthful-looking woman and a SaddleBrooke resident for nine years, is a phenom, although she would be the last person to say this of herself. She is extremely talented as she creates fiber art, paints with watercolors, quilts, and, in addition, makes beautiful Kumihimo jewelry, the traditional Japanese art of making braids and cords. Kumihimo means “gathered threads.”

Carol Ann’s husband Dwight was a pilot with the Flying Tiger Line, which carried troops and supplies to our forces in Vietnam. Dwight eventually flew with FedEx.

Dwight passed away just before the COVID pandemic. After that traumatic time, Carol Ann decided that she would need to be independent and resilient. But the “pause” button on her life was enacted when in May of 2023, Carol Ann sustained an in-home injury that fractured her femur, requiring major surgery.

After a week in the hospital, Carol Ann was sent to Encompass Rehabilitation Hospital where she had extensive physical and occupational therapy in order to achieve certain goals and outcomes to transition back to home. These therapies were integral for Carol Ann’s comeback from the accident. During these therapies, she learned, among other things, how to:

• Get in and out of a car,

• Go up and down stairs,

• Use a “grabber” to get items from shelves, and

• Walk on real and synthetic grasses.

Her brother Chris Hubbard, P.G.A., director, LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Tucson, and his wife Becky Hubbard offered to help in manifold ways, but Carol Ann was reluctant at first. Then something clicked, and Carol Ann, always an independent sort, told them, “I’m going to accept your help,” which made way for Carol Ann’s journey to recovery.

Carol Ann also had friends to help her along the way (with food preparation, dressing, showering, standing, etc.), but they could not help with her change in psychological well-being. She had to reconcile herself to the fact that she needed to take better care of herself and to reach out if she needed help.

Currently, a family friend lives with Carol Ann to help with work around the house. Carol Ann realizes that she can no longer do gardening, for there are many hazards as one maneuvers around patios and gardens.

Carol Ann cannot say enough about her orthopedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Stevens and the rehab center staff who were all compassionate and excellent in every way.

Carol Ann has some advice for seniors:

• Recognize that you need help and ask for it.

• Try not to multi-task—focus on one task at a time.

• Be aware of your surroundings.

There is no stopping Carol Ann who is currently making kids’ quilts for Casas de los Niños, an organization that promotes child well-being and family stability in our community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every second of every day, an older adult (ages 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S., making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group.

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