When She Forgets She Can’t Fly: The Dreaded Transition from Walker To Wheelchair

Mom has always adored birds.  And like them, she has recently started to DIVE for her targets–lunging in an arc from her walker into chairs, hurdling her upper torso into bed, following lifted arms to topple over into the car before I’ve gotten into place for the transfer, and going all out for the toilet HEAD FIRST, all a bit too fearlessly for my comfort. 

Due to her short-term memory issues, it does absolutely no good to have more PT or OT instruction, or to have me, her annoying daughter, remind her about the proper way to safely transition to sitting (or standing).

She blames her increasing falls on the chair, the bed, the walker, and often ME- anything but Parkinson’s or dementia, which unfortunately seem to be the quiet culprits.  She’s been demanding a new bed several times a day, in loud, colorful language on the phone with me, asking why I’m dragging my feet on this, thinking it will solve the problem. 

It seems the safest option would be to ask the staff at her residence to have her use a wheelchair, though that would restrict her movement, make her muscles dull, and defeat her spirit.  (We’ve had a few wheelchair days, when her legs wouldn’t work right.) 

It’s terrifying to watch her careening for her targets, but this is her last bastion of physical independence, and she’s not going down without a big fight.

This is kind of what Mom used to look like in her bathing suit, but she stayed pretty grounded.

It would be great if I knew the staff would be around every time she wanted to change position, but for most situations like hers where there’s a 1:8 ratio, they can’t and don’t catch most of her quick moves, and unlike many other residents, she’s more of a hermit and prefers to be in her room most of the day, doing her own thing.

I’m really scared about this one.  I know that maintaining her health is partially dependent on getting as much exercise as possible, and I hate to do anything that impedes that, yet broken bones will sure not do anything to enhance her longevity either.  

I would love to hear from those of you who have experience from a similar situation.  How did you deal with things when the walker situation got scary?  What was helpful? 

How did the transition work, and how did your parent/client react to losing more independent mobility?  Did you err on the side of dealing with occasional falls, or choose to put safety first and accept the risks and heartache of less mobility?

This entry was posted in caregiver stress, support, and respite, dementia, doctors and medical and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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