10 Nov Adjusting to changes improves daily living
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – November 2009
Physical abilities decline with age. There can be deficiencies related to hearing, vision, mobility and balance. Thankfully there are aids to assist with these challenges.
Many of my clients, even those in their 90s, stubbornly refuse to admit to these changes and resist using any kind of aids that would improve their daily living. I am not speaking of those with cognitive impairment, but rather of otherwise healthy seniors who are fighting to retain their independence and refuse to acknowledge changes in their functioning.
When I try to converse with someone who is hearing disabled, I invariably ask about hearing aids. I get all kinds of answers including: “I hear just fine and don’t need any hearing aids” or “I tried them and they are bothersome.” (I understand that some people find them disturbing with regard to noise) or “They are expensive and I manage fine without them.”
Spending a couple of hours with a hearing-impaired client who refuses to consider hearing aids results in a sore throat and exhaustion for me. If the interaction is in a public place there is no doubt that others will stare, likely wondering why the person is not wearing a hearing aid. Hearing aids are no longer cumbersome-looking; technology has changed over the years and is quite sophisticated now. A person wearing a hearing aid will go unnoticed, as opposed to hearing-impaired people who think their hearing is okay and have others speaking loudly to them.
Certain medications and illnesses affect balance, as do postural changes in the elderly. Those who suffer from chronic back or leg pain may have difficulty walking, but many still refuse to use a walker or even a cane. Suggesting a walker to some people is akin to using foul language. After all, they tell me, walkers are for old people. What would others think?
Instead, their worlds become smaller because they avoid physical activities that include some degree of walking. When you see someone leaning against a wall as they walk, holding on to someone for dear life, wincing in pain as they walk awkwardly and with difficulty, do they look young and physically able? It is the people who walk confidently with a walker, or even scoot around on their scooters – those who have taken control of their lives – who are not stared at.
Resistance to adjust to the changes in your body as you age will reduce your quality of life. Making those adjustments and using the necessary tools to assist you will allow you to continue your usual activities as well as making it easier for your loved ones to be in your company. Making use of aids will not make you look sick or older. Canes, walkers and hearing aids are not only used by seniors – they help everyone who has difficulty with mobility and hearing. Those who refuse aids, often causing frustration in loved ones, stand out more than those who make healthy choices by adjusting to the changes in their bodies.