When is it Time to Use a Walker?

The first time my mom suggested that my dad use a walker during his off periods, he rolled his eyes. He wasn't ready to rely on the little 4-wheeled contraption with soft handlebars. He wanted to stay self-sufficient, and capable for as long as possible.

Walkers seemed to be a tool that one should use only as a last resort – a device that came to your rescue once you’d already fallen or lost faith in your ability to make it from point A to point B on your own. At the time, my dad still believed he had it in him to go without. And he did.

A while later, my mom suggested that my dad use a cane since he wasn’t ready for the walker. Canes seemed more versatile, but they still provided a little bit of extra stability. It seemed like they could be a good happy-medium. But he didn’t love the idea of using one of those, either.

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Benefits of a walker

It’s been several years since my parents had this discussion for the first time. When I was visiting home recently, my mom shared that he sometimes uses it when he has to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. It creates a greater sense of stability in the precarious darkness.

She finds comfort in knowing that he uses it. Because, well ... if he were to fall, it would be very difficult for my mom to do anything about it other than to call the first responders. She’s strong, and fierce, but she’s still much smaller than my dad. So, the best way to handle potential falls is by reducing their odds of occurring.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how I’d feel in my dad’s situation. As an outsider, it seems so natural to encourage him to use the tools that are readily available to him to increase his quality of life. Why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself safe by any means possible? And shouldn’t you do everything you can to reduce the risk of falling?

Putting pride aside

But the truth is that, if it came down to it, I’m not so sure that I would be strong enough to put my pride aside and to start using a walker, either. History seems to dictate that I wouldn’t be. So, maybe I’m more like my dad than I realize.

I’ve seen my grandma use a cane for so many years that it just seems like a natural thing to do if you want a little bit of extra support. As a hiker, I often use hiking poles on my adventure, and even as an athlete, I really appreciate the extra assurance they provide me in unstable terrain. It’s a lot easier to fall when you’re not using poles.

I don’t ever want to see the fight fade from my dad’s eyes. And I’m glad that he continues to vouch for his ability to remain self-sufficient. It shows that he’s determined to keep on keeping on. But if he finds that a walker helps – even sometimes, I hope he uses it.

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