Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"People Are Very Adaptable"

People are very adaptable. We have to be or it would be very hard to keep going. We take our bumps, and bruises, and detours and make the most of what we have as we continue onward. We figure out how to do what isn't quite as easy as it has been - and we move on. We may return to our former state of ability at some future date, or this may be a more permanent change for us.

Accidents and mishaps happen around the home, out in the world, and at the office. Cutting our dominant hand (or finders on that hand) means wearing a bandage on it for a few days or longer - depending on the severity of it. It gets in the way of normal activities and the hand likely is sore, at least initially. Rather than continue doing things with our dominant hand (dialing the phone, typing, or opening doors, for example) we use our other hand. Some activities may seem a little awkward or clumsy initially. Then, we will get the knack of it. We'll adapt.

If we hurt our right foot or ankle so that driving the car is a little uncomfortable or just not possible the way we usually do it, we adapt and start using our left foot for the accelerator pedal and the brake.

Getting dressed, eating, and doing other activities that we don't even think about before doing them becomes a little more of a challenge as we have small injuries that get in the way or hamper our normal movements. We figure out the best way to deal with our limitations and keep going. Hopefully, the restrictions are short term for us and we can return to normal activities soon.

Meanwhile, we gain some appreciation for the people around us who have such limitations - and even greater ones than what we are experiencing - on a permanent or long-term basis. They adapt as well, but they need to learn to remap their movements so that their adaptation becomes the new norm for them.

If we have balance issues, we determine where there is something along our way that we can hold onto or steady ourselves - whether inside or outdoors. We may need to discover a place to sit and rest for a moment. If there is loose footing somewhere in our home, we remember to walk around it.

For anything that typically is part of our regular routine that no longer works the way that it has for us, we figure out a different way of doing it. We invent, we improvise. We are creative and resilient. We are resourceful. We're problem-solvers. We figure out how to persevere and keep going. It may not be the same as it was, and it may not be as good at first, but eventually, it will be satisfactory and possibly even better than before. We may even decide that we like our adapted activity better than what we were doing.

We use what we have to keep moving. We evaluate our abilities and how they may have changed and we do the best we can to keep doing what we have been doing up to this point. We aren't quitters. We just have to figure out something else that works when our regular activities and methids no longer accommodate our needs.

This is true for temporary ailments, illnesses, and disabilities. It's also true for permanent changes in mobility or sensory abilities. We figure out how we can function in the best way possible and keep going. Sometimes we receive the help of others, and sometimes it doesn't come.

Regardless, we can be the ones who help people in need to move on with their lives more quickly and easily after a minor setback.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.