Dad’s balance was bad, and due to whatever was going on between his brain and his muscles, it was rapidly getting worse. He had fallen a couple of times in his apartment, but luckily (so far) only his ego was hurt.
Nursing staff at the assisted living facility recommended the use of a walker. That idea was met with a flat refusal from Dad. “I don’t need any cane or walker to keep from falling! I will just be more careful.”
Explaining that by definition, an “accident” would not be warded off by “being more careful” got us nowhere. Statistics about the outcomes of falling and breaking a hip were dismissed. He was adamant. “I am not using a walker! I don’t need one, and I am not going to drag around one of those clunky gray things… makes me look old!”
Ping! I got an idea.
Those walkers really did look dull. Every one I’d ever seen came in aluminum gray. Did they even come in any other colors? Something bright and bon vivant?
Searching online proved to be a difficult task. It seemed that no one had really ever considered changing walkers to any other color than the aluminum gray material they were made from.
Simultaneously, lots of cajoling, arguing and pleading were happening with Dad. But not much progress was being made… with his attitude, or in the search for something different in a walker.
Then I happened upon an ad featuring some older people doing something elegant in some big city, with a crimson color scheme. Lo and behold, one of them was holding a bright fire-engine red walker!
Locating the source of the ad and then the source of the prop online took a while, but finally I found a website that offered “modern assistive devices” that didn’t look institutional. I ordered Dad a bright red walker with a racing stripe and a curved sidebar that practically shouted “Zoom! Hot stuff”! I was thrilled when it arrived and looked exactly like it was supposed to. I threw it in the car and took off for Dad’s assisted living facility.
Setting it down in front of him, the bright red walker challenged the “clunky old gray” denial. And he had already shot down the “I will be more careful” defense by falling a couple more times in his apartment in the past week.
After more cajoling, pleading and a few mild threats, he reluctantly agreed to take the walker with him when he went down to dinner that evening.
That evening in the dining room, he overheard a few comments. He attracted some positive attention. He got some compliments on his new “assistive device”. During the next few days he was fielding questions like “Where did you get that snazzy-looking thing?” He began to feel a little snazzy himself.
While Dad never did like using a walker or a cane – or anything that interfered with his strong desire to do things himself, the walker had definitely lost its dull, gray and old image, and from then on he was much more likely to remember to grab it before leaving his apartment on his way out.
That spelled relief and said situation-solved to me!
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