“But I’m not old enough to have one of those…”
The above sentence is the bane of my existence. It is a sentence that, as an OT, I am subjected to hearing Every. Single. Day. It is a sentence that keeps me awake at night, and it is a sentence that I will hear for the rest of my working life!
A huge part of the work that I do is to prescribe assistive aids and equipment, some of which might include shower stools, toilet frames, long-handled aids… you get the picture. The primary reason that I might prescribe these to you, you parents, or your grandparents is SAFETY and unfortunately this is something that a lot of people have an easy time forgetting.
Aids and equipment that an OT might prescribe are suggested with only the intention of increasing and maintaining independence, and quality of life. My concern is your safety, as should be yours. I truly believe that age is not a factor when it comes to whether or not assistive aids and equipment can be useful to you in your home, work, or other environments.
Don’t get me wrong, I too think that a shower stool is ugly. But I know that it’s going to prevent you from slipping over on the wet floor and THAT’s the reason that I’m asking you to try one. I also know that a toilet frame is ugly, and often takes up a lot of space, but because I know that its going to allow you to go to the toilet without any supervision because you’re at a risk of falling over, I’m STILL going to ask you to buy one.
The challenge of functionality vs. safety vs. age is one I’m facing not only in my professional life, but also in my personal life. I have very proud and very independent family members and so you could imagine the looks on their faces when I asked them to accept some aids and equipment into their household (brings true meaning to if looks could kill!). Whilst writing this blog I’m simultaneously trying to think of sneaky ways to infiltrate their house with equipment, without them knowing.
Time and time again I’ve said that when the time comes and I require the help of aids and equipment, I’ll be ticking all of the boxes and ordering one of everything because I know how much of a difference a minor change to the environment would make. It is my wish that people would stop worrying about the perceptions of what age looks like and start to worry about how it is that they’re going to continue to live that is as functional and independent and safe as it could possibly be for as long as they possibly can.
Do me a favour and consider the aids and equipment suggestions that your OT makes… That ugly shower stool might one day become your best friend!
Image credit: Zachary Scott