Facing the loss of mobility and privacy is a challenge. Your dad might be just fine when you offer a helping hand as he gets up from his easy chair, but he might be considerably less gracious about assistance in the bathroom, or when you’re out in public. Look for tools that can help with safety and mobility, and make sure they are used, and used correctly.
If your parent is reluctant to accept assistance from you or another caregiver but is willing to use medical equipment to maintain independence, consider assistive devices to help with bathing, toileting, and mobility.
By refusing to use the tools they need, some people put themselves at greater risk for falls and accidents. What is the best way to go about encouraging a family member to use an assistive device?
Often, these tools can bring about feelings of inadequacy. They make people acknowledge their limitations. It’s important that the person you are caring for knows that you understand and respect their feelings about loss and having to depend on something.
Telling someone they have to do something is not an effective way to get them on board. A good technique that professionals use is called motivational interviewing. For example, you might start by asking your dad to tell you about his day. Is he tired from running an errand? How far did he go? Was he without his walker at the time? When was the last time he fell? Where was he? Talking it through gives people more of a sense of control in the decision-making process.
Your parent may resist using a device because it isn’t comfortable or easy to use. It’s important to make sure that the device is appropriate. It should be prescribed specifically for the person using it—don’t borrow something as important as a walker. And it is critical that the user and the caregiver both are taught how to use it. That may mean, in some cases, a physical therapy evaluation and some treatment.
If your loved one is still resistant to using a medical device, talk to a health care professional. Having a conversation with your physician is imperative, especially if your family member’s safety is at stake.