Use a Rollator and Other Devices If You Are Mobility Challenged
I was pretty healthy until very suddenly, walking became difficult. Yes, I can walk, but not for long distances. That said, this article I is not about me, but what it is like to suddenly lose a physical ability that I took for granted all my life and how I addressed the issue, and suggest you do the same.
The sudden onset of any mobility issue related to your feet, knees, bones, joints, etc. reorganizes your life completely, even when you have full control over the upper part of your body. Little things, like grocery shopping, become impossible. Using public restrooms without grab rails are almost impossible (if you can actually get out to use one). And active living becomes “sitting in your favorite chair for hours on end.”
When first hit with an affliction like this, you might hesitate to invest in mobility devices because, frankly, you don’t want to spend the money. Perhaps you believe that you are too young to use them (devices like these are for gramps and grannies), or you believe you’ll return to health within a defined number of months, so why bother. Very possibly, however, hesitating to invest in suitable mobility devices could cost you emotionally and physically as your muscles deteriorate.
The loss of mobility affects activities such as just being out with family and friends, something we all assume we can maintain. The resulting radical change of activities and isolation, of course, leads to depression. Who wants that?
My own mobility problem, for example, “occurred” three weeks before a planned, six-week vacation in France. I went anyway, using every possible resource to stay active, although those activities were greatly restricted. Yes, I wanted to stroll through France’s markets and city centers, but I just could not. Instead, I “made do,” which is far more interesting than not doing anything.
Here are some of the things I did (or plan on doing) to stay mobile. Should you find yourself in this predicamen, I hope this list is useful to you and it leads to finding even better solutions.
- Acquire a Disability Car Tag: Talk to your doctor to find out whether your injury qualifies you for a state handicapped permit. You might still be in shock that you cannot walk without an aid, so want to put this request off for a while, but I recommend that you acquire the tag as soon as possible, especially if you can hobble under your own power, but not all that well. (Disability tags issued in America also are valid in many other countries.)
- Lose Weight: Unless you are naturally thin, immediately start losing weight. Yes, less weight on your hips and limbs is beneficial. More important, however, is if you need to lean on (or be carried by) others and they can’t bear your weight, you will stay immobile.
- Elbow Crutches, Canes, and Walkers: Elbow crutches provide more stability than canes or trekking poles. Note that if you must bear a lot of weight on these aids, you can hurt wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints within a relatively short period. The use of these devices is another reason why losing weight is important!
- Rolling Devices: These devices include rollators (like you see me using in the first pictures), light-weight, foldable wheelchairs, and battery-operated scooters with seats. You might need to select one version for home and another when traveling. Rollators are relatively inexpensive. My “Hugo Elite Rollator Walker with 8-inch Wheels, Seat, Backrest and Saddle Bag” cost approximately $130 on Amazon, its cost is covered by various insurance policies, AND it is handy enough to carry art supplies, picnic food, and beach towels, among many things.
- Wheels on Rolling Devices: Bigger diameter wheels are best for outside. Little ones for around a carpet-free house. A good rollator will have 8-inch or larger wheels.
- Straight Posture: Keep your chin up and back straight. Curving forward can, within a short time, cause injuries to other parts of your body. To evaluate your posture, have someone take pictures and/or videos of you as you stand up from a sitting position and walk. (Avoid the Groucho Marx Walk.)
- Physical Therapy: Many exercise and strength-building machines can be used when you are partially or fully mobility challenged (although probably not a treadmill). Videos and web articles abound with tips on how to rebuild injured body areas without requiring whole-body participation.
- Chair Fitness Aerobics: Keeping your heart pumping strongly contributes to faster, better healing. Google the phrase “Chair Cardio Aerobics” for ideas and links to videos on how to use common household chairs to build your aerobic strength.
- Involvement with People: If you can’t get outside easily, check out all the activities on the web that involve groups of people, from crafts to playing cards. Contribute to these groups, post selfies, and stay involved!
- Carts and Wagons: Carry things around the house or to your car in a cart or wagon. Carrying things in your arms puts extra pressure on your extremities.
- Stair Lifts: These stair lifts look expensive, but you can build one for under $1,000 from a kit. I have not yet done this, but am thinking about it.
- Possibly, Hire a Periodic Assistant: If you do not live with family or friends, evaluate your desire to be out and about and hire an assistant to aid your transportation needs. It is money well spent.
- And Keep an Eye Out for Kids Having Fun With Your Devices! Kids love anything with wheels as well as sticks that can be used as swords. Either give them some time to play with them, or instruct them to never touch your things. (Instructing them to never touch your stuff tends to not work as the urge to play with fun looking stuff is an overwhelmingly attractive activity.)
A lot of information on this subject can be found through “image searches” in Google or Bing. To build the picture gallery below, for example, I searched on the following topics:”ultra light weight wheelchairs,” “foldable wheelchairs,” “trekking poles, “electric sitting scooters,” “canes,” “elbow crutches,” “cane stools,” and “walking sticks.”
Note: The folding, battery-operated scooter seen on the left, middle line above is a Shoprider – Luggie – Foldable Mobility Scooter, model R35000.
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This article is written by Karen Little. Most photos are by Karen and Philip Little. Posted August 22, 2015 on www.Littleviews.com. Request permission to copy any part or all of this article from Karen at Karen@Littleviews.com.