'I Do Not Need Any Help…I Have A StepLadder!'

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

As Caregivers, more often than not, we pay better attention to the health and well-being of our caree rather than to ourselves; It just goes with the territory. Just the other day, I found ‘The Little One’ pulling out the stepladder to use to reach the upper cabinets (after all he is 5’5”) in our kitchen. Being the over protective caregiver that I am, I immediately balked at his use of the ladder. “What are you doing,” I said! “What does it look like I am doing, putting away the groceries.” He responded. “Not with that ladder you’re not.” The conversation deteriorated from there…

Safety is a big concern for all of us. One harmless fall can put an entire series of health concerns into play. Yet there is a delicate balance between independence and common sense.

Dr. Starcevic with ‘The Little One’

On Friday, ‘The Little One’ had his quarterly check up with his primary care physician, Dr. Starcevic. Dr. Starcevic continues to be amazed at ‘The Little One’s’ progress and stated…”We should review the pathology report because this is truly amazing!” I was gratified when she spoke about how important I was in the progress that he has made over the past year. Of course, he agreed with her 100%. This conversation really helped boost my ego and confidence.

‘The Little One’ highly respects Dr. Starcevic, and I do too. When ‘The Little One’ was in the middle of his chemo and radiation treatments last year, she was the one who determined that he needed to be in the hospital. Not only did she have him admitted, she put him in a wheel chair and took him to the hospital herself! We will never forget that act of kindness on her part.

The Famous Stepladder

During the conversation with Dr. Starcevic, ‘The Little One’ mentioned that he is “extra careful when he walks because he does not want to fall down and break a hip.” As I listened attentively to his words, I could not resist jumping in. “Why don’t you tell Dr. Starcevic how you like to get on stepladders, “ I said! They both turned to me (with different expressions on their face of course) at the same time: then the real conversation ensued about ‘The Little One’s’ safety. The conversation was lively and to the point; it is harder for ‘The Little One’ to dispute Dr. Starcevic than it is me!

Every caregiver wants to ensure that their caree is 100% safe. While I know I cannot be at home 24/7, I also know that I cannot control what ‘The Little One’ does when I am not home. (Like I can really control him when I am at home!) I can hear ‘The Little One’ saying, ‘I can put those cans on that top shelf, I’ve been doing it this way my entire life;’ I get that response and respect it too.

Even as we age, each one of us has that indestructible opinion of ourselves. We do not want to lose our independence, but we also do not want to lose our independence through a fall that is preventable. Sometimes we just need a different messenger, and sometimes we have to realize that our message needs to be tapered. In this case, we learned the meaning of both. Thank goodness for the wonderful work of Dr. Starcevic!

You see…We might have Cancer…But Cancer does not have us!

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  1. Terre Mirsch on September 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I agree that it is very difficult to find that delicate balance between ensuring safety and promoting dignity and independence. The truth is that step ladders are probably not very safe for many of us past a ‘certain’ age! Unfortunately, I see too many people completely lose their independence as a result of serious falls. While falls can have devastating effects on health and quality of life, we think of them as something that happens to other people- not to ourselves. I admire the balance you have found between respecting autonomy and promoting a safe home environment.

  2. Jill on October 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    One of the most difficult things is admitting that you do have to give up some of your independence especially when you’re use to taking care of everything & everyone.

  3. Chris MacLellan 'Be A Healthy Caregiver' on October 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks, Terre…It is a difficult balance, but an important one, too! I am always glad when you stop by…Have a great week!


  4. Chris MacLellan 'Be A Healthy Caregiver' on October 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Hi, Jill…
    You are right on target, it is not easy to admit that help is needed from time to time. You know ‘The Little One’ and his independence. We continue to forge ahead, just like you!

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