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When Do We Age/Edge into Disability?

Denying when we need help is not helping

Pexels —caio- 3321813

I wear hearing aids. Am I disabled?

I was disabled when I had foot surgery and my foot was in a cast for 8 weeks. I used a knee scooter and had a temporary disabled parking tag for my car. I considered it a lark, as I had to slow my scooter when heading downhill.

I had safety bars installed to replace towel racks in my bathroom. I made this change after I tore a towel rack out of the wall while hopping around on my good foot.

I’ve had arthritis for a while. I’ve been using Nordic poles as walking sticks for three years. I originally got them because I was committing to exercise, and they provided additional stability and are good exercise. One moves the arms as well as the legs when walking with poles.

Three years later, if I am honest, I use them as canes as much as I do walking sticks. I’m up for bilateral knee replacements soon, and I don’t trust my knee stability. I sometimes have pain and my knee can buckle without warning. The poles are useful leverage when I am getting up from a bench or other seat.

I’ve never identified as disabled.

I am disdainful of those who I feel are gaming the system, like getting doctors’ notes to allow their emotional support dogs access everywhere. On the other hand, I defended an employee with chronic back pain (invisible) against peer criticism about his preferred parking to minimize his walk.

The last time I traveled, people volunteered to help me. I was grateful and accepted their offers. I needed help climbing up the high first step of a shuttle van. I needed help getting my roll-along bag out of an overhead airplane bin.

I am grateful when I’m seated and someone volunteers to serve me or clear my dishes, so I don’t have to walk and balance plates.

I don’t need hearing aids when I am alone or when I am with one other person in a quiet place. But add background noise? A group? A speaker in front of the room?

I’m not hearing impaired, there are just situations in which I can’t hear very well. Masks don’t help.

I am not mobility impaired, I just use walking sticks for balance and appreciate the occasional gentle hand that provides assistance.

Admitting we need help is admitting we are losing independence.

My granddaughter asks for help. She will soon pass me on mobility independence, but I have better judgment and experience and don’t run into the street without looking. I don’t run.

Our darn pride and ego get in the way of acknowledging what other people can plainly see. Interdependence may be a step up from independence.

We just have to understand it that way.

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2 Responses

  1. Jean Powers
    | Reply

    Thieve are wonderful observations and advice. Thank you for sending them out.

  2. SingingFrogPress
    | Reply

    Yes! Having just travelled cross country Albany to SF, SF to Santa Barbara, LAX to Albany, all by plane we contemplated our declining abilities, especially our inability to do anything quickly, and briefly considered taking the offer always made at the last minute to board early if you need assistance. Then we’d see someone with a walker, or being supported by a companion, and we’d decide we’re not quite there yet. But we sure can see it coming!

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