Do We Inadvertently Pull? Do We Make It Look Graceful?
When Mother was alive–after her stroke which did not affect mobility per se but did affect balance and confidence–it was important to me that she maintain her dignity when she depended on me for confidence to walk in public. Her fragile, osteoporosis-ridden bones added to the problem. I’ve seen so many older people whose children were strong and well-meaning; yet the elders looked awkward–often off-balance when they walked together (Who knows how they felt.)
I knew Mother cared about her appearance. I can still hear Dad calling “Come on, we’re going to be late,” as she was applying that finishing touch of make-up or adding that last puff of hair spray. And I remember her telling me about walking with her friend, Marie–a much sturdier-on-her-feet octogenarian. Marie would say “Do you like chicken, grab a wing” and they would walk arm in arm, “normally like two friends do,” Mother said.
Below is a way of walking with older people that instills confidence, while giving them the opportunity to walk further and feel (and look) normal.
- Walk arm-in-arm like Marie offered Mother. It happens naturally with men and women all the time.
- For extra support: taking the arm-in-arm position, move your elbow in towards your hipbone so your arm hugs your parent’s arm against your body and your hipbone provides additional support. Done correctly the extra bracing adds to your strength should your parent begin to lose balance, and gives your parent an added feeling of stability.
This suggestion has the stamp of approval from a highly respected nurse-author-geriatric care manager to whom I demonstrated this method. She likes it because she says “you aren’t pulling or leading your parent, which is usually the case.” As we look for ways to help parents age well, try it. Go for a walk with your parent.
2/20/13 Help! Aging Parents again was 1st runner-up, this time joined by 3 additional blogs for this honor. Check them and all finalists out on http://www.seniorhomes.com/b/2013-best-senior-living-awards/best-senior-living-blogs-individual/ And many thanks again for your vote.