How to maximise independence and freedom
Many people struggle with the difficulty of continuing to live life as they used to, and the desire to do things that they like to do, in the face of a significant decline in their walking ability.
Questions can arise such as…
“Is the weekend away worth it any more?”
” Can I still deal with all the hassles involved with flying, and dealing with the airlines (who often don’t cater well for the needs of people with mobility issues)?”
“I enjoy it when I am there, but getting to and from (… a favourite place or thing to do) is just getting harder.”
Scenarios like this often lead HSPers to ponder questions like:
“Do I need to now start using a cane, or progress from a cane to a walker, or from a walker to a wheelchair or scooter AND suffer the loss of even more independence?”
Or “should I just accept the fact of my mobility decline and stop going to certain places or doing certain things AND miss out on things I really enjoy?”
These are not good questions as they lead down a path where the choice needs to be made for EITHER this OR that.
A much better way to think about it is this:
What mobility support do I need for different parts of my life?
That is, what is a good answer for the different demands that different situations place on my needs for mobility support?
For example, I can still get about the house by myself, occasionally using a wall, table or sofa to steady myself as I get about. When it comes to walking in the park, I really do need a cane for support and safety. When I go shopping and there are crowds of people, I can’t move quickly enough, I can’t manage the things I buy by myself, and I quickly get tired, so a scooter is a good option there.
By using different mobility options and supports for different situations, you are actually increasing your level of independence and freedom by not giving up the things you want to do AND you are still maximising your mobility as allowed by the situation.
Sure, you may not walk everywhere anymore, but you still walk when and where you can.
I laugh at myself because I keep adding devices to my home or my car. I assess what I will need when I get to a site. For instance…grocery shopping. If I only need a couple of things, I use my 3-wheeled walker and put groceries either in the bag, or I balance a red hand basket on my walker. If I need LOTS of groceries, and no one has left a cart near the handicapped parking, then I’ll use my fold-up cane to walk to a cart, and use the grocery cart. I tell store managers to ask their workers to try to leave a grocery cart near the handicapped parking spaces. They tell me that they never considered that before, but I notice them doing it more and more now. If I am going to one of my grandchildren’s athletic competitions…golf, lacrosse, etc. I take my 4-wheeled walker that also has a seat, so that I don’t have to carry a chair. The kids also like to let “granny” use the seat to push their equipment or their chairs. Also, the 4-wheeler has bigger wheels that get over grass and gravel easier. Around the house, I use walls, or whatever to give me balance without using anything else. If I am having a bad day, I use my “indoor” walker…with the clean wheels. You just have to figure out which device will keep you safe, and allow you the most mobility. NEVER stop going!! Even airports are getting better at assisting! Oh, and every walker I use folds up.