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How Deborah Johnson thrives with the CAPABLE Program amidst long COVID-19 symptoms

August 2, 2023 by Joseph Rios0

Deborah Johnson finds peace and solace in her garden at her Colorado Springs home.

Each morning, Johnson starts her day by caring for her tomatoes, herbs, lavender, elephant ears, flowers, and other plants in her front and back yards. Many of those plants live in her new raised garden beds Johnson received through Brothers Redevelopment’s Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) Program.

“If you look around here, this is 30 or 40 years of me just tinkering in the garden, because I love being in the garden,” said Johnson in her backyard. “(Brothers) really addressed the garden thing. (They) got me this really cool (garden kneeler) that I can fold down and lean on and garden. And I can literally push myself up, which is amazing.”

Brothers has been a beacon of hope for Johnson while she has suffered from long COVID-19 symptoms since February 2020. The 69-year-old woman lives on a fixed income and was first introduced to the nonprofit when her sewer line backed up.

At the time, Johnson was severely sick with COVID-19 symptoms and was reaching out to anyone she could think of for help. She stumbled across Brothers’ Home Modification and Repair Program on the internet, called the agency, and before she knew it, a construction crew was in her backyard replacing her sewage system at no cost to her.

“It’s February, the weather is nasty, COVID is just starting, and these people came out, and within two or three days, they had crews working in the house, they had crews outside. I told them it was like Christmas 10 times over,” Johnson said. “I never would’ve been able to afford this, never. It just got me in my heart.”

Aging in Place with the CAPABLE Program

Johnson has been sick with COVID-19 twice and still suffers from lingering symptoms. She used to love hiking, but due to physical limitations, she can no longer engage in it. Consequently, she rarely takes her dogs on walks anymore, as she gets tired easily. And her senses of taste and smell have been altered — but she still wants to live independently in her home and age in place comfortably despite her health issues.

Brothers’ CAPABLE Program launched toward the end of 2022 and is focused on helping Coloradans like Johnson age in place. The service is a client-directed, home-based intervention to increase mobility, function, and capacity to age in place or age in community. CAPABLE consists of time-limited services in a series of visits from an occupational therapist, a registered nurse, and a technician from Brothers who work in collaboration with the program participant. Over a four-to-six-month period, these individuals visit the participant’s home.

A key component of this approach is having the participant drive the goal setting. The participant brainstorms strategies with team members to arrive at preferred ways to reach goals. Each action builds on the previous visits and focuses on the participants’ capacity to function at home.

Outside of Johnson’s raised garden beds and her garden kneeler, Brothers’ CAPABLE Program fixed her patio steps, installed a new porch light, provided her with medication for her toes, gave her a tool to reach difficult places that are trigger points in her back, provided her with shoes that ease walking, and helped her start doing chair exercises.

Brothers offers the CAPABLE Program to Coloradans living within south Colorado Springs, Park, Teller, Pueblo, and El Paso County. Research shows that CAPABLE reduces the impact of functional impairment and disability, enhances motivation and self-efficacy, reduces health disparities, improves symptoms of depression, and reduces hospitalization. The CAPABLE Program is offered by Brothers in partnership with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance and The CAPABLE National Center on behalf of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Those interested in participating in the CAPABLE Program can find more information at

For News and Media Contact:

Joseph Rios


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