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Gaining Independence – When Walking Becomes Too Difficult to Manage by Yourself
I hope this article can help others who are in a position to help a loved one regain their mobility and pride. My mother, unlike my father when he was still with us, would not stop at anything to continue his daily walks and outdoor excursions. For the past 7 years, my mother has been using a cane to walk like many elderly people with mobility issues. His life was put on hold last year when he fell and broke his hip which threatened to put him out of commission for 6 months. On top of that, he had to wait to get the hip replacement surgery he so desperately needed (he was also found to have osteoarthritis which explains the pain in his right hip which is why he needed the cane in the first place). Her doctor told her that a hip replacement was necessary because her hip pain would continue due to the osteoarthritis and her mobility would continue to decline. For the 2 weeks he waited for surgery I could tell he was not his old self, and in fact he became depressed. Fortunately he was able to have his surgery 2 weeks after his accident.
For the 2 weeks he waited for surgery I could tell he was not his old self, and in fact he became depressed. Her doctor recommended a walking aid to help her recover faster. We went to the local pharmacy that sold canes, crutches and walkers. We ended up buying him a 4 wheel walker with a seat, hand brake and a basket (also called a Rollator). At that time we had no idea what kind of Walker / Rollator to buy and what would be best for my mother during her recovery process. Her doctor was not very helpful about the options of different walking aids other than to say she needed a walker after her surgery. In fact, I think his cane was no longer providing the support he needed which may have led to his fall in the first place. In my mind, whatever solution we found for my mother was one I wanted her to continue using once she was better so she could maintain her mobility with confidence and reduce the chance of another fall. After the accident he seemed afraid to walk even with the help of a walker.
The walker we bought was the kind you see everyone using, the kind that folds like a scissor and looks like an A from the side. The walker himself posed his own challenges! We did not know at the time of purchase how difficult it would be to make the walk in and out of the car that proved to be the biggest obstacle for him to achieve his freedom and mobility. According to the brochure, the market weight was about 12 pounds which was the lightest we could find thinking that would be beneficial for my mother so she could lift it herself after her new hip healed. The walker had a record of resting when sitting; however, this was an obstacle when he tried to put the Walker / Rollator in the trunk of his car as it was always in the way.
After 2 weeks of owning the market the frame became very loose. When we bought the walker, the frame would hold together well when folded, however, after folding and unfolding it 4 times a day for 2 weeks, the frame became floppy (it usually went in the car twice a day – every trip asked. he raised the walker in the car and back out of the car when he returned). The design of the frame reminded me of a pair of scissors in the way the scissors are stiff when you buy them and after a while they flip open more easily. He would pick up the walker and put it in the car and the frame would flip open and cause him to struggle and many times he had to put it back down and start over which was very frustrating for him. Even though the walker only had a weight of 12 lbs it felt more like 25 lbs to my mom because of how cooperative the frame was. He couldn’t do that very well himself, so I had to take his place when he needed to go to the doctor or to go shopping.
Luckily I live nearby and I was able to help her because I work from home, but many people don’t have that luxury. Don’t get me wrong, the walker was still a blessing for my mother and she was able to walk again and strengthen her hip muscles which helped her in the 3 months of recovery, but if she was really going to be independent she needed a things easier to get in and out of the car on its own. He wasn’t getting any younger after all.
During the next 3 months (post surgery) I noticed other challenges. The cables used for hand brakes got caught on the door knobs, obstacles in the car and his bag was tearing on the cables when he stood up after sitting down. I even heard him grumbling a few times when the cables would get caught on something (this was very shocking to me). He also started complaining about things like the way the basket was banging on his door. I looked around her house and saw ding marks on every door frame at the same level as the basket. The basket came out in front of the market and it was clear that the turning radius was limited because of this and that is why it hit the frame of each door. I started watching him use the walker better over the next couple of months.
I went for a walk with my mother one day, in her neighborhood, and I made a few more observations. The 8 inch wheels on the front of the walker (the ones that swivel to allow the walker to turn easily) seemed to spray as it walked on sidewalks and pavement. I found this strange since one of the selling points it was better for outdoor use because of the big wheels. I could tell the walker was overtired like you see with shopping carts and hospital beds. I asked him what he thought about it and he said he wished they weren’t sprayed because it made his motion control more difficult and he also said he could go faster if the wheels weren’t sprayed .
My mother has been living in an Assisted Living Center near where I live for the last 5 years since my father died. Every time I would visit him over the 3 months during his recovery from surgery it always seemed that his walker / rollator was in the way especially now since he was no longer using it inside his home. After he regained his strength, and the pain in his hip subsided, he found it easier to walk inside the house and hold the furniture and the railing to move, and the walker became a very useful tool to help He walked out every day and when he came in. the car. Folding it didn’t help because every time he folded it and laid it on the floor, it took up more space than if he had left it unfolded in the hallway.
After 3 months of using his walker/rollator, it was clear we needed to find something better that would offer the independence it is so stubborn. But every medical supply store offered a market similar to the one my mother used just with a different company name on it. I ask myself; why would all these companies manufacture the same product with the exact same design flaws? We saw about 5 different brands that were all the same color just different with different seat pads or different size wheels. It was clear to me that if I was going to find something better I would have to look beyond our local market. I turned to the internet to look for something better.
I did a search on Google.com with the search term “Rollator”. I went to 4 pages of links for companies that sell walkers / rollators just like the one my mother had already. On the 5th page of links I found a company called Dana Douglas Inc. based in Ottawa, Ontario. When I clicked on the link it took me to their rollator page where the first product shown was called the “neXus Series” – Our prayers have been answered!!! The NeXus was the exact product we wanted and it was made in Canada vs. made in China for the one he owned. Here are links to make your life easier if you or someone you know has had the same experience as my mom:
The best thing about this product is the way it folds. If you are familiar with wheelchairs and how they fold then you will understand how the neXus folds. A lift in the red handle that flows into the seat and the neXus folds to only 9″ wide and stands when folded so that my mother would be able to fit it in the closet in front of her and her rollator would not be in the way. her apartment, the basket is mostly under the seat so it doesn’t go into her door frame. The NeXus had a “Cable-Free/Maintenance free” braking system that had a 6-year warranty. I knew my mom would love it. there are no. cables to hold things. The weight was 13 pounds which made it a little heavier than the one my mother owns but she claimed that it was the easiest rollator to fold and get it inside the car or to put it away. one and try it with my mom and see if she likes it. I went to the store where we bought the other walker and they asked if they had heard of this walker which they hadn’t ‘but they knew the name of the company so that was a good start. I told the lady about the neXus and I would like to buy one if she met my mother’s needs. She was a little little hesitated to order it in the first place when he called Dana Douglas they said if you don’t like it you can return the product for a credit so the lady wanted to give it a try. Ordered the neXus and it arrived 3 days later. I didn’t tell my mom it was a little heavier (only 1 lb heavier) instead of getting her feedback when she went to put it in the car. My mother was overwhelmed at how the product was so much easier to use. He first rolled into the showroom and his first comment was “the wheels don’t look as sticky”. Apparently this is the only rollator with 2 steel bearings for each front wheel so the wheels turn more easily.
This became very noticeable when he walked outside in his car with the neXus and he could walk on the pavement and the wheels wouldn’t spray and spin which allowed him to maneuver better. The handles were easier on his hands, the basket was bigger to carry more goods but the biggest thing is how it folds. He lifted up the red handle and placed the neXus in his trunk with ease. We later learned that the rollator could stand right behind the passenger side seat which made it even easier for him. He said that the neXus was lighter than his other rollator because he had no difficulty with the frame flipping open on him. Another great thing we found was that the neXus could fit through narrow doors which was no problem for my mother but her friend lived in an older house with narrow doors. He showed his friend and his friend went to the same store and bought one the next day.
My mother has been using the neXus now for 6 months and has regained her independence and freedom. I know he feels better not having to ask me for help because he can move around on his own and travel in his car without worrying about the battle he had with his old walker. The only bad part is the other rollator started collecting dust in my basement. I sold it on Ebay.com just a few weeks ago lol! I went to the store last week where we bought the neXus and the same lady said it is now their best selling rollator, so I guess everyone is a winner.
I hope you find this article helpful if you find yourself suffering from the same problem as my mother. Good luck with your independence journey!
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