I will use myself as the example for this article, but keep in mind that I work with individuals who are 50+, although most of my clients are 75+.
2 1/2 months ago while camping I injured my right shoulder while relaxing. Seems kind of crazy, right? One goes camping to relax, spend time with family, friends, and in nature-relaxation is the primary goal along with time away from the city, electronics, and the fast paced life that we live in.
I went to sit in my friend’s nice lounge chair that is supposed to recline and let’s just say-things did not go the way they were supposed to. When I went to kick up the bar at the bottom of the chair to recline-the bar got caught in rocks and well my shoulder paid the price! Intense pain shot down my arm and well I have frozen shoulder. So, here I am 2.5 months later and I am much more limited in what I typically do. This is very frustrating. I cannot lift heavy things which includes a full laundry basket or a bag of groceries with my right arm. I cannot do fast or sudden movements or my shoulder/arm pays the price! I cannot type or write for long periods of time. I cannot lift my arm to write on a whiteboard or flip chart. Filing folders at work aggravates it. Opening a frozen car door-not an option, I must use my left arm.
I have been forced to s-l-o-w down. I have to ask for help and this includes at times taking off my coat. I have had to re-learn to do certain things with my left arm and hand. I have to take breaks and rest more. The muscles in my left arm are nice and strong and re-learning certain activities and doing it with my left arm is firing up neurons and such in my brain, but it is frustrating to say the least.
I am still quite young, but it turns out this is not an age thing and is quite common in women in their 30’s-40’s. Yeah for me!
So, I can continue to be frustrated or I can accept the limitations and adjust.This adjustment means asking for help of whomever is around me or teaching myself to do it a different way. I have chosen to accept the challenge and the limits and so I ask for assistance and I teach myself to do things differently. I have s-l-o-w-e-d down and rest more-not such a bad thing when you think about it.
I do physiotherapy and I consult with an orthopedic. I do the necessary exercises that are assigned even if they hurt a bit and aggravate my shoulder because in the long range-it is meant to improve my mobility and not hinder it.
So, let’s think of those who are 75+ it is an adjustment as well; slowing down, accepting the changes both physically and mentally, and both seeking and accepting assistance. Keep that in mind with each interaction with an older adult. Suggest, listen, and wait to see what they are willing to accept. Keep offering and suggesting and eventually they may accept; it requires patience.
By Victoria Brewster, MSW