Walking is such an important part of life. It gives us the independence to move where we want to go and take care of our needs. Losing our ability to walk can make us feel helpless and anxious. Without our independence of walking we can wonder if our needs will be taken care of. We may also feel that we don't want to be a burden to the people around us. Walking is a huge part of feeling self sufficient. As we get older, it can be a struggle when we lose some ability and begin to slow down. Walking independence is encouraged as long as possible as people age, but there are times when continued walking can be dangerous for the elderly.
When a person starts to get older their legs become weaker, their balance worsens and the risk of a fall or injury increases. A person can therefore put themselves and others at risk. Without much warning, someone can lose their balance or strength in their legs and they could fall. This can become dangerous to the person and their caregivers when this happens. At this point, it is wise to start looking at some alternative options and making some decisions about walking abilities and safety. Encouraging the use of canes, walkers and wheelchairs can be useful.
Here are a couple examples of when the family encouraged the use of a wheelchair, cane, or walker and why.
* Names have been changed
This is a story of a woman who had dementia who was a high fall risk and would injure herself often by falling. Her name was *Sally. She grew up very independent, strong, and fit. Over the years she started to become a little weaker and was pretty unsteady when she walked, yet was still very determined to be independent. Her memory and dementia began to worsen. She kept forgetting to use her cane or to ask her family for help. She started falling more often. Luckily, a majority of the falls were into her bed, chair or couch and she only had minor injuries. Until one day she fell in her kitchen onto the tile and broke her hip. After surgery and some physical therapy, the doctor and family decided she needed 24 hour care. They agreed that it was better for Sally to use a wheelchair instead of continuing to walk. Her safety was more important than encouraging her independence at that point. Because she started to use a wheelchair fulltime, Sally was able to be protected and didn’t have any more falls. She was then moved into Fairbrook Grove Assisted Living Home where she could receive 24 hour care.
Loss of Strength and Balance
*Martha was in her 90’s, but was very young at heart. She loved to travel, explore, do archery and many more adventurous things. She lived alone and seemed to keep her house together and was happy. The year after her 92nd birthday she fell 3 times and broke her wrist, her femur and injured her back. Her family was concerned about her safety living at home. Because Martha was so strong willed, she wasn't ready to move out of her house into an assisted living home. She did agree to start using a cane to help stabilize her, which prevented her from falling or losing her balance. Over the next two years her strength continued to decrease and she agreed she needed some extra help. It was challenging to get groceries, cook, clean and garden. She moved into Fairbrook Grove Assisted Living home where she could receive 24 hour care. She was still able to have independence where she was able but had caregivers to help her when needed.
Making a decision to help a loved one be safe and stable can be a hard decision. Preventing falls and keeping them safe is a high priority.
Why to seek help:
Caring for a loved one can be a little more challenging when a person has lost strength and balance and has become more dependent. Assisted living homes like Fairbrook Grove Assisted Living can provide quality care and are trained in assisting people in whatever stages they may be in. Fairbrook Grove caregivers are trained in lifting people with proper body mechanics, walking with residents who struggle, and helping with many of their needs. Also the caregivers offer supervision, meals, laundry, showering, dressing, and toileting, etc. This gives family members more freedom to do the things that are necessary in their own lives but also be able to spend quality time with their elderly loved one.
As a person becomes more dependent, we want them to feel that they still are important and a worthwhile individual. At Fairbrook Grove each person, no matter where they are in their journey, are treated with respect, love and dignity.