I just visited my Dad and Mother-in-Law, 87 years and 98 years respectively. They share some common issues related to sitting, standing, and walking. There are things that they could have done to improve their situation. There are things that they can do now to make it easier. The trouble is, they have reached a point of inflexibility in terms of accepting suggestions, advice and direction even when it comes from healthcare professionals.
I thought about this from the perspective of what information that I could share that might help people who are on the path toward aging and encountering similar problems. If I can catch some folks while they are still flexible and amenable to taking corrective action, that might help. If I can equip their loved ones with good advice, they might share it.
Now, as a “prepper,” I usually prepare for disasters, and now, I am adding a new one and it is “aging.”
Case #1: Dad -- He overate most of his life and doesn’t give much attention to a healthy diet. As a result, he has high blood pressure that is medicated, but the toll is on his legs and knees with additional pressure on his back. He has poor posture and must walk with an arm brace walker to support bad knees.
What can be done to improve his situation and comfort?
Case #2: Mother-in-Law -- At age 98 years, what is there to complain about, right? She ate a lot of butter and added a lot of salt to food, and it didn’t seem to make a difference. She was always physically active, having raised a large family and having worked well into senior years. Being very self-determined and self-sufficient produced successful outcomes.
Now, the trouble is she has low couches and chairs, with exception of a large recliner. She uses a walker for mobility and has a heck of a time getting up off the couch and out of chairs.
What can be done to improve her situation and comfort?
Now, since I am not a healthcare professional, I can only make observations and then refer to professional sources to address possible solutions. Surely, any suggestions here must be checked with your own doctor before applying them.
First, here is my amateur, common sense observation.
1. Dad needs to use a walker. The arm brace approach is lopsided and appears to do more damage to his posture than using a walker. It is a matter of pride, I believe, but there is a time for a walker, and this is it.
2. Mother-in-law purchased overly soft and low furniture when she was doing fine, and she did not anticipate the trouble that she would have getting out of that low position. The couch doesn’t provide an arm support on both sides so that she can use arm strength to stand. She rocks forward, and I observe this rocking is commonplace among her peers at the assisted living facility.
Dad, please buy a nice walker with four large wheels, a seat with storage basket, and hand brakes. Stand straight with good posture when you are using it. Leaning on the handlebars is bad form.
Mother-in-Law, you are the advice giver, not a good taker. However, it is time to get a good sized cushion to sit on as you move from the couch to chairs. The extra height will make it so much easier to get up without so much rocking. Furthermore, I have seen your peers carry their cushion with them on their walkers. That is a good idea.
Last, be selective about where you sit. If you can sit in a chair with arms, that is best because you can use them for support.
There is a host of mechanical inventions that are designed for motorized and mechanical boost to getting out of chairs as alternatives.
Here is a helpful link that confirms my advice, and advises that you get a consultation from a physical therapist: http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/23153/126845/strategies.
Just when I was sitting smugly, I found this article from NBC News telling us that we must be able to rise from sitting on the floor without using our hands, arms, or knees. Yikes!
“Can you do this? Simple sitting test predicts longevity
Linda CarrollNBC News contributor
Can you get up off the floor without using your hands, arms or knees to help you?
A simple test that looks at how easy -- or difficult -- it is for you to sit down on the floor and then get back up may help predict how long you’re going to live, a new study shows.
Middle-aged and elderly people who needed to use both hands and knees to get up and down were almost seven times more likely to die within six years, compared to those who could spring up and down without support, Brazilian researchers reported Thursday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.