It’s never easy to see age take a physical toll on a parent or loved one. Oftentimes, physical and mental aids are met with resistance—usually stemming from fear or denial of one’s current state of well-being. This is especially true when being faced with using a walking cane for the first time. Perhaps Mom has undergone hip replacement surgery but is stubborn to accept a cane as a necessity to her mobility. What do you do?
Understand the concern.
First and foremost, exercise compassion. Oftentimes the opposition has more to do with an emotional reaction than a physical obstacle. A little communication can go a long way, so consider asking your mother why she refuses to use a walking cane. Is she afraid to ask for help in the event she is struggling? Did she used to be a runner earlier in life? Maybe she worked on her feet all day as a nurse before retirement and she’s feeling prideful or ashamed.
Focus on the positives.
As with any aversion to change, you’ll get much further by casting the situation in a positive light. Gently remind Mom that using a walking cane will get her stronger, faster. After all, the sole purpose of a cane is to minimize discomfort and, more importantly, allow the muscles and soft tissue around the affected body part to heal. Again, remember to sympathize as this is likely a very stressful life event for her. Try to control your own frustration and avoid being reactionary by giving her harsh ultimatums or negative consequences.
The single most important thing you can do to help Mom is ensure she has the proper walking cane. This how-to from healthinaging.org offers tips for choosing the right cane and using it safely. Encourage her to dedicate 10-15 minutes per day to walking around the hospital or home. If your mom is transitioning from a walker to a cane, have her try using both so that if she feels too weak to rely on the cane, the walker will be there for support.
There are many factors at play when it comes to one’s personal aversion to a walking cane. The best thing you can do to support your parent is to show love and support. Above all, be patient. Once they finally do come around, they’ll see the benefits outweigh their previous reservations.
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