101-year-old: The Right Cane–Mobility and Aging in Place–4 years after Broken Hip Surgery 1

USING AND CHOOSING CANES WISELY

Because of R’s strong desire to remain in her home of over 65 years and live independently, alone–she may have put more thought into cane selection than many.

IMG_3693The cane she eventually purchased, she first used in rehab. While she used many canes in rehab, this one felt best to her, because of its handle, which is broad. Her palm rests on it, instead of fingers wrapping the usual more rounded handle. Thus, it felt like added support.

To backtrack a bit–

Shortly before her release from rehab a cane salesman visited her in her room. (Don’t know if this is true of most rehab centers.) I happened to be there.

He brought a good supply of canes, but none with the handle R swears by for stability and confidence. She told him what she wanted, which he didn’t have. (No one said she had to purchase his canes…I think it was a “service.”)

The day she signed out of rehab, they let her borrow the cane she liked  best. She took it to the surgical supply store. Not a stock item, It needed to be ordered and would take 2 weeks. R. was eager to get started with it. My husband ordered it through Amazon, where itt was less expensive and arrived at R’s home in 3 days. I can’t remember if Medicare covered it.

A year or so later R saw and ordered the HurryCane. One of its attributes–advertised on TV– was that it stood up by itself. R’s home is carpeted. It did not stand up on carpet. She phoned the company and spoke to “a very nice man” who said she could return it and get full credit (which she did). Although that cane didn’t work for her, she appreciated the ease of return.

She then tried a little rubber gadget that would attach to the bottom of her cane so it would stand up by itself.  But first the existing rubber tip needed to be removed. The rubber gadget didn’t work and R says the original tip could not be put back on her cane–necessitating another purchase of the original cane –with the broad handle.

When R bought the replacement cane, she went back to her rehab place to have them fit the cane so the handle was at the proper height for her. She was told when she left rehab 4 years ago how important it is that the cane is fit properly by someone knowledgeable. She’s convinced that’s why some people who, don’t stand up straight and walk properly with their cane, have problems.

R has always been creative in solving her problems. That’s undoubtedly one reason she has been able to remain independent for so long. Currently her walker, which she loves, provides a place to rest her cane in the standing position.  It’s sort of hooked to one side (see photo). It stands up and ready–always in the kitchen. And when she’s walking to other parts of her one-story home, she can lay the cane on a bed, chair, etc. where it’s easily accessible.

As parents age, inevitable problems arise. Loss of almost all vision in R’s left eye and macular degeneration in her other eye are her current concerns. Mobility isn’t one of them thanks to her cane and a walker (next post).

 
Related: Tips for Choosing and Using Canes Mayo Clinic Slide Presentation

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: 101-Year-Old, 4 Years After Broken Hip Surgery, Still Mobile and Living Alone

To begin the New Year, a happy follow-up–on Sr. Advisor R’s once broken hip.

Four years ago this month R left the rehab center after spending 4 months there. At the time Medicare only covered 3 months. Fortunately R had a secondary policy that helped with the 4th month. Don’t know what Medicare covers today. Do know that getting all information about insurance coverage, in advance, makes sense. It provides a framework for decision-making. That’s always helpful.

Today, at 101, R is completely mobile. She now walks with a cane when she goes out (which she didn’t do before she broke her femur). She uses her cane at home when she “feels unsure.”

While “feeling unsure” isn’t something younger people normally experience when walking or driving a car, it seems to be a feeling older people are attuned to. For example, I remember Edie (a Woman’s Club member in her late 90’s who aged well) saying something like “On days I don’t feel sure of myself, I don’t drive.”  “Know Thyself” seems important for aging well independently.

What has changed since R’s surgery:

R says she has no mobility problem–gets around fine, however–

The leg affected by her broken hip has never been as limber or as strong as it was before the surgery and is weaker than her other leg. Exercise is a must.

The muscles are weaker (even though she has religiously done the exercises learned in rehab since returning home). That leg also has less range of motion. For example, she says “I can’t just raise that leg (while sitting down) to put on a sock without help from my hand to rest my leg on a stool that I put in front of me. Then I can put the sock on.”

“If you don’t exercise that leg you’ll have trouble walking. So many just sit in a chair and don’t bother to do the exercises and pretty soon that leg doesn’t work so they walk less and sit more,” says R. “Many people just give up. I don’t want that to happen. I’m either going to be out of here (dead)–or I’m going to continue doing what I have to do. If you want your independence, you have to keep doing–your exercises and everything else.”

R credits the right cane (see next post) for giving her ease of mobility. She’s certain that the cane she’s now using is a big reason she’s been able to continue to go out with friends and live independently, alone. It was an important purchase that has helped her age well.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: Designer Safety in the Bathroom

Attractively-designed bathroom products that are ADA compliant and can support 500 pounds are now on the market from American Standard. While pricey, their design is stylish, comparable to “normal” designer bathroom accessories. They don’t resemble those clunky, utilitarian products that look like they belong in a hospital bathroom.

I must admit, when we remodeled bathrooms after moving to our NY apartment I couldn’t bring myself to put in one of those ugly grab bars. We aren’t psychologically ready for those yet, although it would have been more practical financially to install it then. A soap dish-grab ring photo by the manufacturer caught my eye this month as I was looking at the National Association of Home Builders blog.

Something attractive makes a difference psychologically–we feel good using it on a daily basis.  It’s not necessary to have a fancy bathroom. On the other hand, something that’s a daily reminder that we’re old and need equipment that looks like it’s for a patient in a hospital or care center, does not lift spirits (that’s the nicest way I can say it).

I’m guessing these products will eventually come down in price. On the other hand, if I knew the soap dish or towel bar would help an aging parent feel better about needing a grab bar and had the proper space, I would  enlist other family members’ contributions and give it as a gift. It would be another way to help elders feel good; and doesn’t that contribute to their aging well….

………an after-thought: If Tiffany could incorporate an alert pendant’s technology into a necklaces and bracelest, do we think elders would be more inclined to wear them?

Related:
http://www.americanstandard-us.com/safe-and-accessible/safe-and-accessible-products/accessories/

3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents has been nominated for 2014 “Best Blogs by Individuals” recognition and we would appreciate your vote by 4/28 if you’re on Facebook. We were honored to be judged part of a 3-way tie for first runner-up last year thanks to your votes which took us to the judging round. Click top badge at right to view a universe of helpful aging blogs and resources, even if you can’t vote on Facebook.

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Timely links to research and information from top universities, plus some fun stuff to help parents age well.

HOLIDAY GIFTS GUARANTEED TO PLEASE AGING PARENTS: THINKING AHEAD

Gifts We Can Be Certain Elders Want

IMG_2319MEMORY TEST: Have your aging parents or grandparents–or great-uncles or aunts– ever mentioned off-handedly or in conjunction with other thoughts, something they need, want or would love to have? And you file it in your memory as a gift idea for later on?

I’ve flunked that. Perhaps I’m not alone. Sunday I was reading posts in my archives and unearthed something I’d forgotten. Sr. Advisor, R, mentioned the retrofitted shower’s hand spray device was big and heavy for her 99-year-old hands according to that post. I had purchased a smallish, relatively light weight one when we remodeled our apartment’s bathroom. Its spray could be adjusted to pretty powerful if necessary. I knew it would be perfect–a needed gift.

To back up: R (who has aged in place in her home of 60+ years) had her shower retrofitted before her return from rehab following her broken hip surgery. She didn’t mention the hand spray until last March when I asked if I could write about her shower redo. That’s when I learned about the hand shower spray. How could I forget between March and November?!

Kohler K-8487Now that I’ve remembered, I will go to the Kohler website and show her the hand spray photo on my iPhone. (She is much less flexible, at age 100, with anything involving change; we try to be sensitive to that). Who knows, in the last 7+ months she may have become accustomed to that big, heavy hand spray! Since we have no tools and aren’t handy, a plumber would need to be part of the hand-spray gift. Considering the total cost, we want to avoid a mistake.

We’ll be with her at Thanksgiving and I know I’ll find a reason to casually bring up the subject. Since my iPhone is never far from me, showing her the photo will be simple. If she still has interest, a gift guaranteed to please will be coming her way at holiday time.

We know our parents pretty well.  Nevertheless, aging does bring changes. I think we all want to give gifts that add to older people’s lives, not give them clutter or something that causes problems. That’s why–from now on–when, especially, an older family member mentions something that is broken, not working, not right, has been lost etc. etc., I’m going to keep a list and pull it out well in advance of a gift-giving occasion. As we try to help parents age well, doesn’t that make sense?

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Help Parents Age Well and in Place: Old Bathrooms. Old Parents. New Shower Fittings for a 97-year-old Woman–Update: Now 100, Still in Her Home

IMG_0971Search engines connect to countless websites offering renovations to help aging parents and others remain in their homes when muscles, joints, and limbs become “ify.” Mobility problems may instantly flash “candidate for assisted living” in the minds of many and rightly so.

The flip side for others, however, is the cost (literally and emotionally) of moving vs. remaining in one’s home. Clearly, if mental capacity has become impaired, remaining at home is risky. When aging parents still have a “good head on their shoulders” and are adamant about remaining in their home, values and a philosophy of life come into play. And so it was for Sr. Advisor R, now 99.

Readers know she still lives, without daily help or a companion, in the 1-story home she and her husband built in the mid-1940’s. From the minute she left the hospital after surgery for a broken hip two years ago (she lost her balance and fell after making a quick turn to straighten out a picture her cleaning woman had turned around), going home was her only goal. After 4 months “of very hard work” (she’ll tell you) in a rehab center, she went home alone, refusing all offers of anyone’s staying there with her. But she couldn’t go home without a physical therapist visiting her home and making specific recommendation to make her home as accident proof as possible.

R is smart, reads widely, orders through catalogs, and had already taken the initiative to have some of the usual grab bars, easier-to-grip handles for faucets etc. installed well before breaking her hip. She was limber enough before her fall to get in and out of a bath tub with help from the grab bars. But after hip surgery a shower became an easier option. That entailed updating her previously not-often-used shower.

IMG_0964The shower is about 4′ x 6′ and grab bars were installed on 3 walls: 2 horizontal and 1 vertical.  Looking in one sees a high step up. A vertical grab bar is unseen on the right wall, just as you step in (or out) and a left horizontal bar above the bench is easily grabbed when stepping into the shower. The 2nd horizontal bar plus a soap dish are within easy reach. Turning the corner, the shower control comes into view. The tile floor is from the ’40’s and would not be recommended today because of its somewhat slippery finish. R is very careful. Doesn’t stand to shower and doesn’t do much walking in the small confines.

Next, the shower control (on the wall opposite the bench) and the long metal shower hose hanging down for the hand-held sprayer attachment (there’s no shower head–only a vertical bar the sprayer could be attached to if used as a shower head, which it isn’t). The sprayer faces the shower controls but actually fastens into a holder on the 4th wall abutting the shower door and near grab bar.  R. says the sprayer attachment is heavier than she would have liked but, she says, “I wasn’t consulted.”

I have a Kohler spray attachment that I love. (Check it out, [e-faucets was least expensive a year ago]); I researched well before getting it. It’s as powerful as the big ones–good for a female, someone with small hands, or someone who wants/needs something relatively light and small. No doubt we’ll make that a gift (Mother’s Day will be here before we know it), but we will check with R first to make certain she’d like it.

The 4th wall, to which the sprayer head is attached, has the vertical grab bar that’s unseen in the photo.

Having a small bathroom and small shower made this “update” simple, but “expensive–around $1,000″–according to R. Moving to assisted or independent living would have been quite expensive. Much more money for much less space. Plus, she’d be leaving a home and neighbors that have been–and are–an important part of her life.

As long as R’s mind continues to be good, she will call the shots (and enjoy her refurbished shower). To do otherwise would be to undermine all that she has done to remain independent. As we try to help parents age well, we stop and ask ourselves: Is it easier/better for us or easier or better for them?”

Related: Bathroom Safety Checklist: http://afriendlyhouse.com/17/Safety-checklist–Bathroom/  I found this article several months after writing this post. R’s hands have no problem with the dial shower control mechanism.

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Help Aging Parents Stay in Their Homes: a Round-up of Technology Resources/Devices–Part 1

First, Help! Aging Parents is a finalist again this year in Senior Homes’ Best of the Web 2012. A most sincere thank you to those of you who voted for my blog.

I spent most of yesterday on a plane and am spending today at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Translated there has been little time to write a long post today.

Since, as you know, I’m a firm believer in helping aging parents stay in their homes as long as possible, I’m revisiting technology devices from past posts to help parents age in place. (The most up-to-date information follows in my next post.)

Designed to help parents age well

Keeping an Eye on Parents to Help Them Age Well:
(https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/07/30/799/) with links to 2 NY Times columns: the first–technology: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/garden/29hometech.html?pagewanted=2&ref=todayspaper) the second–literally keeping an eye on parents– a sort of Big Brother approach: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/garden/29parents.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

There are seniors who don’t mind the Big Brother technology–in fact become friends with this set-up. To get an idea, even if you only have one minute, it’s worth listening to part of this NPR segment. Click “Listen to the Story” on the NPR NEWS link— or–Read the full text below the link, where you can click a brief video segment and watch a “tela-caregiver” in action.

Of course when parents have an alert pendant adult children have a certain peace of mind thinking there’s help if a parent falls. It predisposes them to believe parents can age well in their homes with the right “equipment.” This is legitimate only if/when aging parents are committed to wearing the “right equipment” (necklace or bracelet). Often easier said, than done–trust me.

A selection of well-thought of or well-known alert pendants/bracelets were researched and compared by Sr. Advisors, an octogenarian friend and myself. This was done in preparation for Sr. Advisor R’s return home after surgery for the broken hip she suffered when she fell. Link to the first “Alert Pendant” post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/12/ then click the arrow to the second one.

People questioned whether cell phones were as helpful as alert pendants if an aging parent should fall. An August 2011 post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/08/23/best-cell-phones-for-seniors-alert-pendants-and-fall-prevention/ looks at the factors involved.

to be continued……

 

Moving From Home Leads to a Holiday Gift Idea

Charlotte Moving Company-Moving Simplified-#1 ...

Our moving day is fast approaching. There’s always so much more to do than one anticipates. Thinking about aging parents and elderly people going through this process makes me wonder how they do it.

Yes, adult children help.  And when aging parents are mentally–but not physically–able and must get help, I’ve become sensitive to the fact that many mourn the loss of meaningful things accidentally discarded by “helpers.”

For example, one person I know often refers to the fact that her “Birthday Book” got lost in her move. She blames her helpful children.  She continually apologizes for forgetting to remember her friends’ and relatives’ birthdays. I know she’s sincere.

I also know that doing the work required to put together a new book would be overwhelming at her age.  I’m thinking when we’re once again settled, I’ll sit down with her and we’ll work together and attempt to create a replacement Birthday Book. And that will be my holiday gift– something I know she’ll truly appreciate.

Hmmmm. Perhaps a generic holiday gift: replacing something that aging parents have loved using and/or treasured but have lost, misplaced, or used so often it needs repairing, cleaning, or replacing.  You get the idea.

Of course since we’re controlling and doing all of our moving, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves for regrets about things lost or discarded during downsizing. Then, of course, there are treasures we make a special point of moving safely…..

"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and...…….No matter what.