Focus on the Whole, Not the Hole
When we see someone using a cane or walker, the stigma associated is often “old, slow, and feeble minded.” When we hear someone is living with dementia, we automatically focus on what has been lost versus what is possible with what remains.
No one wants to eat the doughnut because of the hole; the hole is what makes the donut!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Seaton in an Embracing Aging online session. Stephanie has been navigating the role of caregiver over the past two years for her mother, who fluctuates between being independent and dependent. To process the array of feelings throughout this new dynamic, Stephanie began journaling. She shared a few excerpts from the journal, one that related to the use of supportive devices.
Infused with humor, Stephanie’s touching excerpt resonated with me because I believe it is time to reframe our thinking about items designed to help us as we age.
People, regardless of age, should not be made to feel shame in using something that will help them have a better quality of life.
When we see someone using crutches, we think injured. The crutches don’t define who the person is. But that’s not true for canes and walkers. We focus on the perceived loss of function instead of how the device keeps a person mobile to do the things he or she needs and desires.
OXO Company founder, Sam Farber, wanted to create a solution when he saw his wife Betsey having trouble holding a vegetable peeler due to her arthritis. This led to the creation of the now iconic good grip handle design. It has become a fashionable kitchen gadget choice for all people due to its comfort and style. It’s a solution that addresses a need for people with arthritis yet benefits everyone.
Let’s imagine a 180-degree flip of a walker. What if walkers with seats and storage baskets were designed for students on college campuses? This device would provide a seat option for impromptu gatherings and a storage option for heavy backpacks and purchases.
But, if designed for college students, would it be:
- Given a cool product name?
- Designed so people don’t need to slightly bend over while using it?
- Available in designer patterns and bright color choices?
- Become such a fad that one couldn’t imagine being on a college campus without it? (Remember carrying books before backpacks?)
I wish a company would reimagine the walker with seat and storage option, much like OXO did with the peeler. It’s time these supportive devices be viewed as stylish accessories that no one wants to be without.
To hear the excerpt about supportive devices and other reflections about caring for her mom from Embracing Aging’s interview with Stephanie Seaton, watch the video below. It is an inspiring discussion filled with laughter, joy, creativity, and other excerpts from her journal Moments with Mom: A Journey of Love.
We hope this blog and Stephanie’s message inspires you to help us reframe traditional views on the items used to help us as we grow older.