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Finding the Right Tools Helps Erma Tester Regain Her Life


When Erma Tester’s husband, Everett, passed away after 63 years of marriage in the fall of 2012, the grief was overwhelming. She cried for seven months straight and couldn’t sleep at night.

The anxiety and depression grew until one night she became obsessed with the logistics of dealing with her husband’s things, including his vast array of tools. The right side of her face began to throb; panic took over. Tester called her daughter at 1:30 a.m. and went to Taylorville Memorial Hospital’s emergency room for tests, which came back normal.

Afterward, her physician, Dr. Rick DelValle, referred her to the nonprofit hospital’s Senior Life Solutions program, which provides participants with a different kind of toolbox—one equipped with resources to handle life’s challenges.

Tester, 80, attended the program twice weekly for 12 weeks, and it changed her outlook for the better.
Some of the tools that Senior Life Solutions offers are group, individual and family therapy; medication management for behavioral health diagnosis; fellowship and nutrition of a noon meal; and coordination of patients’ care with the individual’s primary-care physician.

“The best part of this program is seeing these people get better. It’s just amazing to see how they’ve turned around from the beginning to the end,” said Amy Graham, a registered nurse and program director of Senior Life Solutions. “For some of them, it’s like meeting a whole new person.”

Since graduating from Senior Life Solutions, Tester gardens, tends her flower beds, walks and even bikes. She also helps with her three great-grandchildren and sleeps soundly through the night.

“I’ve learned to take life one day at a time,” Tester said. “Don’t worry about tomorrow.”

For more information, call 217-824-1894.