Transitions With Jean Blog

Don’t be too proud to use a walker or wheelchair

September 5, 2021

“Pride goeth before a fall”

That is an expression I heard growing up. It was always given as a warning when I was letting vanity get in the way of good common sense. The origin of the expression is Proverbs 16:17: ’Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.’

Either way, it is what jumped in my mind when I first met Betty. She had come to the entrance door of her senior community and was escorting me back to her apartment.

As we went down the hall, Betty carried her cane in her hands. She had it in both hands, like it was a dancing prop, and she was ready for Fred Astaire and some tap dancing.

I asked her why she was carrying it instead of using it. She belligerently replied, ’Because I want to be independent. I just want to have it with me in case I get tired.’

Newsflash, Betty, if you trip, you will probably break your nose!

The purpose of a cane is to help you be steady and be braced if you start to fall. Once you trip, it is too late for the cane, and, indeed, wave goodbye to independence.

No matter what your age, every time you take a step from one surface to another, it is a good idea to put your hand on something stable.

If you are stepping out of the shower, first, put your hand on the grab bar. Don’t have one? Get one installed. Towel bars aren’t strong enough to hold weight.

If you are stepping up from the garage to the house, put your hand on the doorframe before you take that first step.

Walking down the stairs? Put your hand firmly on the handrail. It is the smart thing to do. While we are on the subject of stairs, they are not a storage space for stuff going up and down. Don’t create an obstacle course.

If your doctor has told you that you need a cane or a walker to be more stable, please use one.

Choose getting out and sharing your smile with us over your desire to not be seen with a tool that increases your safety. We understand that your body is changing. What we really care about is being with you.

Folks have told me that they don’t want to be seen in a wheelchair. They think it is embarrassing. Please reprogram your thinking. Instead of fretting about that silly chair, enjoy that you are getting out. Don’t be too proud to use a chair with wheels. This really is independence – getting out and about; breathing fresh air; seeing your family and friends. A chair with wheels is just another way to get around safely.

My message to all of you Bettys out there: it isn’t about not using the cane and therefore staying independent. No. By using the cane and avoiding a fall, you will keep your body protected and you will be independent longer.

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