A Sense of Independence Matters at Any Age

Tonight while I was watching my 4 year old get ready for bed, she unscrewed the lid from her water bottle, filled the bottle and replaced the lid. The look of elation on her face when she discovered she could reach the faucet and get herself a glass of water was so innocent and joyful. This applies to every new skill she learns. She was so ecstatic when she figured out how to use chopsticks to eat she used them for every meal for a week!

My two year old spends all day, every day, making it perfectly clear that she does not want help with ANYTHING. I mean, just check out the amount of attitude and determination on her face (see below)! In the morning there is no way she is accepting help with putting her pants on, brushing her teeth, eating her breakfast, putting her shoes or coat on. She insists on climbing in and out of her carseat, taking her shoes off and doing every other daily task as independently as possible. 20180330_075415.jpg

The sense of accomplishment witnessed on the face of a child when they get behind the wheel of a customized, accessible ride-on electric car and go where they want, in the path they want, how fast they want, is AMAZING. 20180227_115517

At the other end of the age spectrum and with the introduction of disability, my mother faced declines in her ability to move around the house and perform many daily tasks during her battle with cancer. She was frustrated when she could no longer do her own cooking and grocery shopping. She regained a little light in her week when she discovered online grocery shopping. And she was so grateful when we modified the home environment to accommodate her needs and enable her to navigate to the bathroom and take a shower on her own.

My friend’s mother is experiencing age related decline in her abilities to safely navigate around the house, use the bathroom and perform daily hygiene tasks. She refuses to rely on Assistive Technology and often resists help from family at this stage. She craves the ability to hold on to every last opportunity for independence.

Whether you are 4, 40 or 104, these seemingly small moments of independence matter. They matter A LOT.

Why should we expect that throughout stages of life, or experiences of impairment a person’s desire for independence in daily activities would lessen?

I know, as a caregiver it can be difficult to take a step back and just let things happen. We are protective about the people we love. When you take a step back, sometimes you witness a grand success and other times you are needed to come in to finish the process. But the key is that you first work to enable the person you care about in their attempts to be independent.

Whether through age, illness or other disabling events, the reality is that everyone yearns to maximize their current abilities and strives to achieve their goals. The presence of an impairment does not imply a decreased DESIRE to be independent in tasks, simply because they face new limitations to their abilities.

As a Rehab Engineer my job is to help people of all ages find solutions to their unique challenges with life’s activities; to help them find the customized solution that enables the pursuit of engagement and independence in the life activities that they desire.

The use of simple Assistive Technology solutions, like the ones in Sydney’s case can improve an individual’s ability to feel confident in their daily tasks and give them confidence to pursue hobbies and activities that give their life purpose. Understanding the person’s goals and abilities, as well as how to match a person’s abilities to AT solutions is essential for a comprehensive assessment and positive outcomes.

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Sydney independently opening a can

Sometimes the biggest challenge for an individual or family is to know what possible solutions exist in the wide world of Assistive Technology. It can save time and financial resources to have an expert in AT assist in matching a person’s goals and abilities with the best AT solution.

Assistology has the expertise and passion to help empower individuals to reach their potential and gain unrestricted access to educational, vocational, recreational, home, and community activities.

Is there something you or a loved one wants to do with greater independence – give us a call!

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