Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adapt, adapt, adapt

from the back door to the kitchen

Life with a degenerative disease poses some interesting problems. G's journey with dementia has significantly affected his mobility, and the continuing damage to his brain means he needs more and more help moving.

His first walker came after some surgery five years ago; the hospital sent it home with him. It was used once and put in the closet for a few years.

Then a couple of years ago we got an additional walker, this with a fold-down seat, because his endurance had begun to wane. If we were walking somewhere and he got tired, it gave him someplace to sit if there was nothing else available.

Then he needed a walker for most of his walking, though around the house he would manage to get around holding onto furniture or placing his hands on the walls. The first walker stayed upstairs and the newer one on the first floor. But frequently G would end up at the opposite side of the house from wherever the walker was, because he had walked without it from one place to another.

At the beginning of 2010 G began having trouble standing up from the couch without assistance, so I found risers to add three inches to the couch. That fixed that problem, at least for a while.

In April of last year he was stricken with an unidentified and unfriendly virus which put him in the hospital and then 4 weeks in a rehab facility. He lost a lot of his previous walking ability, so I had small grab bars installed in a couple of spots around the house, and that proved sufficient.

from the kitchen to the second floor landing

A year ago he began to have problems getting out of bed. More specifically, sitting up in bed so he could swing his legs over the side and stand up. I found a small support bar that installed easily on his side of the bed, and that worked well for a while, although now he needs help (usually from me) to sit up, as the bar is not quite enough.

Over the winter we remodeled the first floor, replacing a tiny under-the-stairs powder room (originally a closet before we turned it into a powder room in 1989, it's now a closet again) with a full, handicap-accessible bathroom and converting a little-used den into a potential bedroom. The bathroom has been well used, the bedroom not yet. If we never have to use the first floor bedroom (it's only big enough for one so would mean a big change in what normal life is), that will be fine with me.

landing prior to the next 10 steps to the second floor

In April, when the restlessness started, G had such a compulsion to move that nothing would stop him. He got out of bed without assistance, off the couch, out of the recliner - all things he had not been able to do (most of the time) without help. He still asked for help, but he didn't actually need it. He was miserable, but at least I knew he had the strength to do some of the things that challenged him before.

June and July were much calmer due to higher doses of the anti-anxiety med, but G started having more and more trouble walking. Strength was not the problem; it was his brain not telling his feet to move. It required many effective but irritating prompts like "move your left foot - your left foot - YOUR LEFT FOOT!" I finally decided it was time to have a transport chair for when G is tired. And that has helped a LOT. He still uses the walkers but the transport chair is always an option.

Now the latest. Going up and down the stairs has gotten more difficult. And because G is going to an adult day program three times a week, he is going up and down our short flight of stairs to the back door more often than he used to. And still going upstairs to bed at night, and downstairs again in the morning.

We already had a handrail on one side of the stairs to the back door and up to the second floor. A week ago we had a second set of handrails installed on the other side, as well as handrails in the upstairs hallway.

The horizontal bar just inside the back door is awesome

This horizontal bar is used when G gets in or out of the transport chair
on his way either out the door or up to bed.
When it's up to bed, then it's also a great help to starting up the stairs.

And then he can reach the small white grab bar,
and then the horizontal bars on the landing.

The home stretch.
Not pictured - more horizontal bars in the second floor hall,
leading to our bedroom.
And heading down all these stairs is also much easier.

Much, much better. He is pleased. I am pleased.

1 comment:

  1. My gosh, there are so many posts I have missed! I want you to know how I have loved looking at the beautiful color of your Autumn and that G has had some very good visits and outings.
    It is such a lovely time of year and can make the heart sing.
    I treasure reading all of your entries.


Thank you!