The Sandwich Generation, a lovely euphemism for those among us who find themselves caring for an elderly parent while still having children at home. Being a part of this generation means that you’re simultaneously learning about the needs of elder care while still navigating the journey of parenthood.
Having an elderly parent in your home makes for a new set of challenges, add in problems with mobility, and it can become an even bigger challenge. A walker or rollator can make caring for your loved ones much easier by encouraging their independence and increasing their mobility. Here are a few tips to make the transition easier on you, Grandma and your entire family
Help Grandma learn to use it
Walker use is easy, but it doesn't always come naturally. To ensure the walker is as useful, safe, and unobtrusive as it can be, it's important to help Grandma learn to use her walker properly.
• Take her to pick up her new walker.
• Ask the doctor, therapist, or mobility specialist to instruct her on proper use, balance, and form before you go home.
• Watch her use her walker and help her maintain the proper technique.
Make room for Grandma's walker
Walkers are compact enough to fit into most housing situations without modification. To be sure that Grandma's walker works with your floor plan, compare walker measurements to your doors, hallways, and exits. Set up Grandma's living space for easy walker access. It should be within reach of her bed or chair without blocking doors or creating additional mobility challenges.
Help your children understand Grandma's walker
Walkers are common; but if your children have never seen one, they can seem like weird mechanical devices from outer space. Help them understand why Grandma needs a walker. Teach them to help make her life easier:
• Keep toys and clutter out of walkways.
• Open doors when she needs it.
• Don't block her path.
• If she drops something, pick it up.
Help Keep Grandma Safe
It's up to you to keep your home safe for Grandma and her walker. You can accomplish that without major renovations.
• Ensure adequate space for the walker exists between pieces of furniture
• Keep electrical cords out of the way
• Keep rooms and halls well lit
• Remove clutter
• Remove loose or worn rugs or carpeting
See AARP's list of "No Cost/Low Cost Home Improvement" for more home safety tips.
Encourage Grandma to keep using her walker
An AARP article, "Walking and Working with Extenders," praises walkers and other mobility devices for giving users the ability to "extend" themselves beyond handicaps. Instead of remaining bedridden or sitting day after day, Grandma can move about, interact with family members, or even stroll through the neighborhood.
As a caregiver, you can make Grandma's move to assisted walking a positive transition if you learn the benefits, pass them along, and encourage her.