Senior’s Walk of Freedom

By on August 17, 2013

Having a car or even a bike can offer freedom of mobility.  Believe it or not, in some cases, so can a physical aid such as a walker.

My grandmother has always told me how important it is to her that she remain independent, not wanting to be a burden on anyone in her family and refusing to even entertain the possibility of ever living in a seniors’ home.

At the age of eighty-eight, she was fitted for a walker. She had to gear herself up to be seen in public with it for the first time.  Even a woman in her senior years can take pride in her appearance and maintain some level of vanity.  It wasn’t easy for my grandmother to trade in her cane, which had an heir of sophistication to it, and accept using a walker at first.  However, it was not long before she realized that she was part of the crowd walking up and down the street and, like everything else I have ever witnessed her do, her great sense and wisdom took over and she began to look at it with a positive attitude.  Now she walks with confidence, stopping along the way to socialize with her contemporaries, many of whom are using walkers themselves.

“How do you like my Cadillac?” she asks people cheerfully, proudly referring to her walker.  After all, someone as elegant as she is should be able to travel in style.  One might say that it is not only the walker, but also the person operating it.  A means of transportation, when we are out in a restaurant, she takes care to lock it, and park it where she thinks is a safe spot where she can keep a watchful eye over it.

Since my grandmother started using her walker, I have noticed several other independent elderly people using the same new and improved model of walkers, and with confidence.  It turns out walkers are not what they used to be.  The new models provide increased security and stability to people who may not otherwise be able to walk outside on their own. 

Nowadays, with walkers actually made to measure according to the user’s height, elderly people in need of assistance can walk tall, helping their postures and backs in the long run, not to mention their dignity and overall quality of life.  In fact, I had forgotten how tall my grandmother really is until her walker allowed her to stand up straight and reach her full height. 

There is also basket in the front of the walker that allows for some light grocery shopping, a small thing that can be of great assistance to someone who may otherwise have no way to carry anything home.

My grandmother is actually, now eighty-nine years old, getting more exercise than she was immediately before she started using the walker.  Everyone needs a little exercise, no matter how old they are.

“I took a walk up and down the hall today with my walker,” she reports proudly.  Or, “I was dancing at the party.  I held onto my walker but I was still dancing.”

The other day, when I was walking back to her place with her after we had gone out for lunch, rather than requesting to go right upstairs to her apartment as she would have normally done, she not only asked if we could go to the park across the street from where she lives, but she also urged me to continue on once we got there, even though the ground was not all flat, so that she could have a closer look at a statue that she had only thus far glimpsed curiously from her window.

Now, when I call her after I have been to the gym for my daily workout, we actually compare notes about the respective exercise that we have both had on that day, she reaching distances greater than she ever thought possible, all thanks to the confidence afforded to her by her walker.

Independence and freedom can make all the difference in a person’s life, and if a walker or other such apparatus can help to achieve those things for seniors then that is a wonderful thing.  Elderly people can be our greatest teachers.  They can be the best examples of how, with a little acceptance and a few adjustments, quality of life actually can continue and that it is possible for our golden years to be exactly that. 

We who are free to walk on our own with ease, we who old age seems something intangible or so far in the future as to make it seem unreal, do not really understand the fears, anxieties and life changes that an elderly person experiences.  What some of us take for granted, such as a stroll outside, may seem like one of life’s greatest privileges to someone else. 

Thankfully, with people living longer these days and advancements in mobility aids and in-house accommodations for seniors, those who might otherwise not be able to leave their homes unassisted can now feel safe and capable of getting around by themselves, without having to constantly rely on someone else.

The care that is available to our precious elderly, if they are lucky enough to live on their own as my amazing grandmother does, gives them a chance to live securely and comfortably, freely and with dignity, things that may prolong their lives more than any medication could.

I hope to go on many walks with my grandmother but it is important that she is able to do it on her own, without having to rely on anyone else, even at her age.  I just better make sure I stay in shape so I can keep up with her.

Seeking financial help to get a physical aid for yourself or someone you love? In Ontario visit: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/adp/

Andrea Freedman is a freelance writer, married and living in Toronto. My daily interactions with people provide me with endless material for writing. Just as one kind word from one person can spark my imagination, my creative juices are equally fuelled by the many faux pas, unwanted social obligations, pretences and annoying habits I am witness to on a daily basis. As a writer I think I have important messages to convey and I try to express feelings and opinions that I think many of us share but for one reason or another, are unable to admit. Visit her blog at: http://www.andreafreedmanfreelancewriter.wordpress.com

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